We may have participated in many activities while struggling with substance abuse that no longer fit or are no longer safe for our new lifestyle. Alternatively, we may not have had many hobbies we enjoyed and turned to substance use frequently out of boredom.
Now that we have gone through treatment and are sober, we may find it difficult to find things to do to fill our time. The good news is that so many hobbies are offered specifically for people living in sobriety.
Alternatives to Drinking in College
When we think about social places that might pose the greatest triggers for relapse, college might be at the forefront of our minds. In fact, a national survey in 2022 found that over 53% of full-time college students drank in the past month. For many, these drinking norms can lead to substance abuse later in life.
While a drinking culture may be prevalent in some college settings, others are making progress to create a safe, sober space for us to enjoy our experience while earning our degrees. There are many approaches that colleges are taking to address the issue of increased drinking. Some approaches are aimed at education and regulation to decrease participation in drinking. Others include sober activities that can help people socialize without alcohol.
Finding alternatives to drinking is also a great approach to help us enjoy our time. Ways that we can have fun in college without drinking could include the following:
- Playing intermural sports
- Going to yoga or the college gym
- Singing in a choir
- Joining or starting a club
- Participating in religious life
- Helping your community by volunteering
- Having a game night with friends who also don’t want to drink
- Inviting friends over for a potluck or dinner party
Alternatives to Going to a Bar
For adults, one of the most common social settings is a bar. This setting can be very challenging for those of us who are tempted to drink along with our friends. Finding ways to safely socialize and have fun with our friends is important since community support is a key component for successful recovery.
Some groups of friends spend the majority of their time at a bar, while others find ways to branch off. Many social groups do not drink at all. If you need to spend less time in a bar, talking with your friends to integrate other activities into your group is always an option. Sometimes we need to branch out and meet other people who also live a sober lifestyle. We can meet sober friends in support groups or support forums.
Some activities that we can explore with old friends or new ones include the following:
#1 Enjoy an Outdoor Activity
Participating in outdoor activities is an easy way to have fun and be sober. It is uncommon that drugs or alcohol are present when people are hiking, trail running, bird watching, or rock climbing. For those of us who enjoy spending time outdoors, exploring different types of outdoor activities to see what we like is a great place to start. Regular engagement in outside activities can have the added benefit of being part of ecotherapy.
#2 Get Crafty
Projects can be a great way to have fun alone or with friends. Painting, knitting, building, or woodworking are all examples of possible crafts for us to try. Whether we are highly skilled or not, finding a project to work on can be fun and fulfilling.
#3 Explore Local Art and Music
While drinking can surround art and music, certain areas in the arts scene are environments we can enjoy without drugs or alcohol. Many areas offer concerts and exhibits that rotate and change. Getting out and enjoying a type of art or music we enjoy can be a great way to have fun while we sip on lemonade.
#4 Join a Book or Film Club
For those of us who enjoy books or films, getting involved in a club can be a fun way to explore new stories and make like-minded friends. Book and film clubs commonly help members try new genres or find authors that they wouldn’t have found on their own. Join a club and find new favorites!
#5 Try New Ways to Exercise
Taking a class or trying a new type of exercise can be fun and help us meet new people. Exercise therapy is even used to improve people’s overall mental and physical well-being.
Is there a type of exercise you’ve always wanted to try? You might consider activities like trying a dance class, paddleboarding, practicing yoga, or learning kickboxing. Sometimes we need to get outside of our normal routine, spice it up, and find new forms of movement that energize us.
#6 Enjoy Animals
Whether we volunteer at a shelter or adopt a pet, playing with animals can be very joyful for us. Animals can help us feel playful as they jump and chase. They can be excellent companions as we enjoy the simplicity of a sunny day at the park or a quick swim in a lake. Pets can also add more purpose to our daily routines as they need us to care for them.
After treatment, our lives look different. Due to societal norms, drugs and alcohol are often associated with going out and having fun. Alternative ways to add enjoyment and connection to our lives can be very important. Fortunately, there are nearly endless options! Thinking out of the box and exploring activities we may not have considered at first can open us to new opportunities. The options listed above are only a few suggestions; there are so many possibilities for having sober fun. We suggest that you give yourself some time to find ways to enjoy yourself without drugs or alcohol. It can help to discuss it with loved ones or professional support. If you or a loved one needs help with addiction or mental health, we are here for you. If you would like to learn more about how our programs can help, call 449 Recovery at (949) 435-7449.
Dr. Warren Taff MD, graduated from the University of Birmingham, England School of Medicine, with a BA from Rutgers University. He then went on to UCLA School of Public Health in Los Angeles Health and Human Services and received an MPH. He also attended an internship in internal medicine, with the Veterans Administration. Dr. Taff’s residency includes General Psychiatry at USC, with elective residencies at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia, and Royal College of Psychiatry. Board certifications include American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Dr. Taff has extensive experience in both psychiatry and addiction medicine, extending from 1979 to present. He has held professional titles that include Chief of Staff and Medical Directorship in both hospitals and private sectors.