06 Mar Why Do I Need to Find New Sober Hobbies in Recovery?
During treatment, and especially when transitioning back to life outside of treatment, individuals working to establish their sobriety will need to engage in sober hobbies. As we know, a hobby is an activity or interest that individuals participate in for relaxation or pleasure. Before recovery, your time may have been spent using alcohol and/or other substances. Now that you are in recovery, you will have to fill your newfound time with sober hobbies.
Regardless of where you are on your recovery journey, you may feel daunted by the thought of finding new hobbies. You may feel unmotivated or exhausted, wondering what benefits sober hobbies can have for your sobriety.
Engaging in sober hobbies is a must for a successful recovery for a plethora of different reasons. Becoming familiar with the benefits of sober hobbies can be a motivating force for you to find and engage in activities that bring you joy.
Examples of Sober Activities in Recovery
As you consider various sober hobbies throughout your recovery, it may help to know that the options are endless. Avoid choosing a hobby merely because it is a hobby. Rather, choose an activity that will benefit your life and motivate your passion for sobriety. Here are just a few examples to consider:
- Learn how to play an instrument
- Join a local sports team
- Take an art class
- Attend a play
- Learn how to cook
- Engage in self-care
- Take a yoga class
- Volunteer at a non-profit
- Learn a new language
- Enroll in an academic program
- Adopt a pet
- Plant a garden
- Take a photography class
- Learn how to sculpt
- Go hiking
Sober Hobbies Offer Healthy Ways to Fill Your Time
Substance use disorder (SUD) and addiction are thieves that rob individuals of their time. When you were actively using drugs and alcohol, your entire schedule may have revolved around your substance use. You might have planned your days around your next “fix” and only engaged with others who were also actively using.
As mentioned previously, sober hobbies are vital in recovery, helping you to fill your newfound downtime. It is important for you to understand that you are vulnerable as you recover from SUD. Early recovery poses the most significant risk of relapse.
However, the risk of relapse will also always exist. Therefore, it’s vital to keep your mind busy to help it heal from the effects of substance use and prevent yourself from slipping back into old habits and thought patterns. You will have to challenge the life factors that had led you to substance use before treatment and, as a result, fill your newfound time with sober hobbies.
Sober Hobbies Can Retrain Your Brain’s Reward Circuit
In addition to helping you fill your time, sober hobbies are valuable in recovery because they can help reverse brain changes caused by substance use. Substance use—even in moderation—changes brain structure and function in various ways. One of the most notable ways that drug use affects the brain is by compromising the brain’s reward circuit.
This circuit motivates us to repeat pleasurable behaviors that we need to thrive. Before your brain was affected by substance use, this circuit was motivated by things like eating, socializing, and enjoying hobbies. Engaging in these behaviors produces natural surges of dopamine in the brain, which causes you to feel good and repeat the behavior again. Substance use, however, produces abnormal surges of dopamine in the brain. Once your brain’s reward circuit became exposed to these dopamine surges from substance use, you likely felt compelled to use drugs repeatedly, even if it was unconscious.
Recovery is a lifelong journey mostly because it can take a lifetime to reverse the brain changes that result from chronic substance use. Sober hobbies can help retrain the brain’s reward circuit and other areas of the brain as you invest your time in activities that you enjoy. Moreover, sober hobbies stimulate these brain areas and, in turn, regulate dopamine production, allowing you to feel good without substance use.
Sober Hobbies Can Influence Social Support
The road to recovery can be lonely from time to time. This may be especially evident for you if you have had to walk away from friend groups that are still actively engaging in substance use. Another benefit of sober hobbies is that they influence social support throughout recovery. As a result, they help you to feel motivated, heard, and less alone in your journey.
Depending on the type of hobby that you choose, you can expect to meet new sober friends along the way. Making new connections with others who are pursuing sobriety is important. This is because you will want to surround yourself with others who want to develop healthier lifestyles for themselves and vice versa. As you build a new life for yourself, the new and healthy relationships you make through sober hobbies can set you up for lasting sobriety.