When you take away the time addicts spent on planning, getting, and using their drug of choice, and drinking, one pitfall in pursuing sobriety is the spare time one may have. Most recovering addicts will often notice that they have a lot of free time on their hands. Instead of obsessing over, using or getting over the use of drugs or alcohol, these individuals now have to fill that void. If they don’t fill in their spare time with a hobby aside from work, they may find their minds start to wander back to drugs and alcohol again. This increases the individual’s chance of a relapse.
A hobby is basically any activity that a person does for fun rather than for work. It can be anything from a physical activity, like exercising, to a mental one, like reading, or something that combines both elements, like yoga or meditating.
“95% of Americans will engage in some type of hobby on an average day. Men may spend an average of 5.7 hours on their hobbies while women spend on average 4.9 hours on their hobbies.”
Those in addiction recovery often have no idea what they like and what they want to do. That’s perfectly normal. Recovery is about self-growth and learning more about oneself. This is a great time to get to know your likes and interests more in-depth. It’s an excellent time to start learning a new hobby or and picking up something new. It’ll be fun!
Making sure that those in recovery are properly occupied is important in almost all aftercare plans. Here, at Y&Y Recovery, we not only encourage patients to pick up a hobby during their stay with us, but we will also help them get into a hobby, so that they have something to do after they have completed one of our addiction treatment programs.
The Dangers of Boredom when Having No Hobby During Recovery
Those who do not have a hobby to occupy their time might be less prepared to take on lifelong sobriety, as they are in danger of getting bored. Boredom leads to feelings of weariness and exhaustion. It can also lead to depression and irritability. These neurochemical changes in the brain will once again destabilize one’s brain chemistry and cause them to be more interested in reverting to old ways of using or abusing drugs and alcohol again. As Program Director at Y&Y Recovery, Sandy Rosiles says, “A relapse begins with a thought that is entertained long enough to where it becomes an obsession.”
Hobbies can prevent this type of stinking thinking from getting in the way of your progress in sobriety. Sandy adds, “You can’t think your way to better living. You have to live your way to better thinking.” Investing in hobbies gives a former addict a constructive outlet and focus.
Someone who is bored will also feel dissatisfied with their recovery. As a result, they may start to romanticize drinking or drugs. They’ll remember them as “the good times”, which will also increase their chances of using or drinking again in the future. They may feel that recovery is similar to a prison sentence.
If you’re in recovery right now, you should consider picking up as many hobbies as you can. Learn more about your interests and your likes and dislikes. This is a good time to be true to yourself.
Potential Hobby #1: Running or Going to the Gym
One of the best hobbies to pick up in recovery is any type of exercise. Running or going to the gym are excellent choices. Recent studies show that those who exercise are actually much less likely to relapse. These individuals are less vulnerable to triggers and other environmental cues that often push a recovering addict back to using or drinking.
Let’s take a look at how that happens.
On top of reducing stress and improving one’s mood, exercise is believed to stimulate peptide production in the brain. These peptides are important because they regulate and change chemical pathways in the brain. These peptides reduce cravings, and make those recovering from substance abuse less likely to go back to old habits.
Other than this, exercise can also have many other positive benefits to the body. Those who are interested in picking up this hobby can also use this opportunity to bond with friends and family members.
Potential Hobby #2: Volunteer Work
“25.4% of Americans participate in unpaid volunteer work.”
Giving back to the community can give you a sense of confidence and purpose. Some people also find that volunteering can help them with self-love. They feel as if they are contributing to the community. This can improve their mental health condition. Some of the benefits of volunteering include:
Decrease the risk of depression
A sense of fulfillment and belonging
An active mind and body
A renewed connection with friends
There are many different places that you can volunteer at. You can go to your local soup kitchen. Or, if you have a particular organization that you are passionate about, you can always see what opportunities that they have to offer.
Potential Hobby #3: Reading
Get lost in a fictional world or learn more about the world around you by picking up a book, a magazine or even a newspaper. Reading can also educate you on the dangers of addiction and what you can do to overcome this disease.
Many recovering addicts may prefer reading fictional work. They want to dive into a new world and be immersed in different issues.
To turn reading into a habit, make sure that you have a good place dedicated to reading. Look for something cozy. Consider buying a beanbag that you can place in the corner of a room. You can even consider snuggling up on the sofa with a throw blanket.
Try to read different types of books. You never know what reading materials may capture your interest.
Potential Hobby #4: Painting or Drawing
Developing a different part of your brain can also help with recovery. Many people are a lot more artistic and creative than they believe themselves to be. Regardless of whether you’ve never done it before or whether you’ve enjoyed it previously, pick up a pencil or a paintbrush and start creating some art.
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to painting or drawing. You may find that you enjoy painting the landscape or you may want to just go to a coffee shop and doodle the people that walk in the door. It’s all up to you.
Potential Hobby #5: Taking an Online or In-Person Class
Have you ever wanted to learn about astrophysics or maybe real estate licensing? Or, have you ever wanted to learn more about computers or software programs? A key to recovery is having your brain and mind so engaged in something else that you forget about drugs and alcohol.
Taking an online or in-person class can really help. It can give you something to look forward to, and can give you an opportunity to change the way that your brain works.
Online classes are more flexible, and you can easily schedule in your lessons based on your treatment routine. For example, those who go to mutual support groups and alumni programs may not want to have a set schedule. These individuals may even go to follow-up psychiatric counseling sessions at times.
In-person classes may be more engaging to some people. They may prefer the new environment. In general, it’s a good idea to not take on too many courses at once. This may cause you to feel stressed, and stress is one of the many triggers that can lead to relapse.
Y&Y Recovery Can Help You Come Up with a Solid Relapse Prevention Plan
A solid relapse prevention plan is key to long-term recovery. Those who are interested in achieving lifelong sobriety will need to pick up some healthier habits. There are so many different options to choose from.
It can be difficult to transition from a bad habit to a good one. Many people tend to fail and go back to their old ways.
Y&Y Recovery does not only focus on healing the body through medical detox. We also focus our efforts on healing a person’s mind and helping them build healthier habits. We will help each patient figure out what their interests are, and help them come up with a healthy schedule to follow.
To learn more about our substance abuse addiction treatment programs, give us a call at 888-877-7326. One of our addiction specialists will walk you through the entire recovery process, from medical detox to behavioral therapy to the right aftercare plan. You’ll get a better understanding of our recovery philosophy by the end of the call.
Are you in recovery right now? If so, what hobbies have you picked up? If you already have some experience in this area, let us know in the comments below!