Sobriety is a death sentence of boring, right? Without drugs and alcohol, the world is flat and mundane. But that’s a misconception that can derail recovery, a belief that keeps us willfully blind to all that sober life has to offer. Because believe it or not, “sober fun” is not an oxymoron. There are countless ways to reintroduce joy into your life that don’t require drugs or alcohol, ways that will be infinitely more rewarding because you’ll actually remember them the next day!
Don’t believe me? Let’s look at science. Drugs and alcohol artificially and strongly activate the pleasure center of our brains. Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to this degree of stimulation, which means that ordinary stimuli no longer trigger pleasure and enjoyment. Removing drugs and alcohol from the mix makes it possible to enjoy living everyday life, to derive hits of pleasure from simple things like reading a book, riding a bike, going for a drive with friends, or exercising to enjoy the feeling of being in control of your body again. Anything you enjoyed when drunk or high can be equally pleasurable, if not more so, when you’re sober. And this time, it won’t take you days to recover!
But in the space between the life you’re leaving and the life you’re building, there’s going to be a lot of time to fill. The question is, how? Get to know yourself. You’re probably a pretty interesting person. Who are you? Who were you before your addiction? What were your interests and passions before alcohol/drugs took over your life? Dust off those old hobbies and give them another shot – chances are, you’ll still get a kick out of them. Pay attention to why you enjoy these activities and how you feel after doing them. Look for things that make you smile, help you feel connected and grounded, and promote a sense of inner peace. Want to get active? Find a sport or hobby that lets you release energy in a healthy way. Exercise keeps you busy and releases dopamine to the brain, giving you a natural high that will serve to replace that toxic high your body used to crave.
Sure, getting sober is scary. It’ll be tempting to idealize the events of your previous life experienced in the haze of substance abuse, to associate them with good times and relaxation, but this completely denies the negative consequences of your addiction and minimizes the benefits of quitting. Maybe you fear alienating your former friends and resigning yourself to a life of tedium and loneliness. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Go places! Do things! Travel somewhere new, try foods you’ve never heard of. There is a whole world of opportunity available to you now that you’re sober – and the best part is, you’ll make memories that you won’t forget the next day!
Enjoying yourself is a cornerstone of a happy life and a vital component of a lasting recovery. Finding ways to have fun without drugs or alcohol will greatly reduce your risk of relapse and help you to build a life worth living. Sobriety opens you up to new experiences that will help you rediscover a passion for life. Losing yourself in an activity will force your brain to stay present rather than ruminating on your past addiction. So get out and take a yoga class, go to an art museum, or learn how to throw pottery – the point is, you’ll never know what you can achieve until you try.
And try it with a friend! Fellowship in fun brings greater connection and satisfaction. Strengthen relationships through shared activities and discover that sober you is infinitely more capable of building and maintaining genuine friendships than old you.
Sobriety doesn’t have to be boring. You’ll find yourself even more capable of having fun, and truly appreciate it, than when you were under the influence. Allow yourself to have a life beyond your addiction, to be present in every moment, and to have adventures that feed your soul.
You deserve it!