Deciding to seek help to heal and overcome drug or alcohol addiction is a vital first step toward physical and psychological wellness. Unfortunately, many who complete an addiction treatment program find there are challenges to their sobriety that persist for weeks and even months after treatment. One such challenge is boredom. Without a way to manage and counter boredom, relapse can occur. Pursuing a healthy hobby (whether new or old) can help limit the challenges to your newfound sober lifestyle.
Why are Hobbies Important in Recovery?
There are benefits to using hobbies to help with addiction. First, as previously noted, hobbies help reduce boredom. As nice as it is to have free time in our day, too much idle time for someone new to recovery can be a potential relapse trigger. During treatment, most rehabs operate on a heavily structured schedule. During rehab, you grow accustomed to being busy, and your time is full. Outside of the rehab environment, you may struggle to fill your time with activities (or people) that do not remind you of using. Picking up a new hobby or returning to an old one reduces boredom and keeps your mind off using or drinking.
Hobbies also help stimulate your brain’s reward system. Drug and alcohol addiction lead to changes in how the brain’s reward system works. Without drugs and alcohol, everyday activities, including hobbies, stimulate the reward system leading to feelings of happiness, satisfaction, and even pleasure. When you use or drink, the alcohol and other substances “take over” the operation of your reward system. In time, it becomes increasingly difficult for everyday activities to stimulate the reward system, but substance use can. When this occurs, it is an indication of dependency on drugs or alcohol.
Engaging in a hobby during recovery helps you trigger your reward system using healthy practices. It will take time for your brain to recover and for hobbies and other activities (unrelated to substance use) to trigger your reward system in the same way as drugs or alcohol. Still, it is important to remain active and continue practicing your hobby. The reward benefits will come in time.
Another reason hobbies are important during addiction recovery is the peer support and connections that grow out of interacting with like-minded people. A significant element of relapse prevention is understanding and avoiding personal relapse triggers. During treatment, therapy sessions aim to help you understand how to identify and manage triggers; however, it can be challenging to do so once outside of the supportive treatment environment. Often, people are the most influential (and difficult) relapse triggers of all and some of the hardest to change.
Hobbies are an excellent way to help with this challenge. Participating in hobbies enables you to connect with and interact with others who share a similar sober outlook. Connecting with people who are not interested in substance use allows you to focus on new and healthy opportunities rather than focusing on previous behaviors.
Are There Hobbies to Help With Addiction?
Almost any healthy, engaging hobby can benefit someone recovering from addiction. The most important thing is to choose something you enjoy that helps take your mind off your recovery and reduces the potential for boredom. It is also important to be sure your hobby doesn’t expose you to potentially triggering places, people, or circumstances.
If you enjoy exercise, consider developing an exercise routine. This may involve going to the gym, exercising outdoors, playing sports with a group, hiking, martial arts, biking, or walking your dog along the beach. Activities like yoga and meditation are excellent ways to focus your mind and heal your spirit if something low impact is more desirable. Other hobbies such as cooking, taking an art class, learning to play an instrument, reading, journaling, or volunteering are also excellent options.
Finding Sober Hobbies Near Me
Overcoming a substance use disorder and maintaining your sobriety can be challenging. When you are busy, you are less likely to struggle with moments of isolation and loneliness that can lead to relapse. There are many hobbies and activities you can try to help you feel content with your newfound sobriety. If you are looking to try something new, there are several likely options in your area. Looking online can put you in touch with several local organizations that host many community activities.
Your treatment team at Rise in Malibu can also introduce you to potential hobby options as part of your treatment and aftercare plan. At our Malibu rehab programs, we offer a wide variety of alternative therapy options. This allows you to explore new things and try something different as a part of your treatment program. Our comprehensive Southern California aftercare planning ensures you have access to a vast collection of community resources to benefit your post-treatment needs. If you or a loved one are ready to begin your journey to sobriety, contact us today to learn about all of the treatment options at our luxury Malibu rehab.