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Recovery from Addiction: Therapeutic Activities to Take Up After Rehab

During recovery from addiction, many people do not know how to fill the holes in their time that was formerly filled by hours of indulging in their favorite habit. They often feel bored and like they have lost their identity, and in a way, they have because they are no longer wearing their usual social mask. It is not unusual at all for recovering addicts to feel very alone in the world as their former social circle tells them things like, “You were more fun when you weren’t sober.”

This constant rejection by former friends can be very triggering and cause a relapse, so it is important to look into therapeutic activities after drug rehab. Developing new interests not only occupies your mind but also helps you to make new sober friends. The initial impulse is to isolate you and indulge in escapist behavior that can also be addicting. Examples of this include gambling online, looking at pornography, or playing video games for days on end without a pause. This type of activity is a substitute for using that sustains and perpetuates addictive behaviors, and it is a good idea to consider healthier distractions.

Two big challenges the addict faces during recovery from addiction are how to feel socialized in the sober company and where to find groups of people that are safe to be with. Many alcoholics are used to their role as the “clown” when with other people, but without alcohol fueling their confidence, they are more shy and withdrawn. There are many hobbies to try after alcohol rehab, and it is a good idea to join a club, circle, or even attend a class where you can meet as many people as possible. This is a good idea because social isolation, in itself, can lead to relapse.

Many addicts need to rediscover who they really are before they started using or drinking. As their previous life was all about finding a drink or using, getting high, and then managing the consequences, there was little time left over for the person to blossom as an individual. When the life focus is off continually imbibing, the person is often left only with the shame, blame, and low-esteem that caused them to drink or use in the first place. Thankfully there are many hobbies to try after rehab that can take the addict’s mind off “using” and revert it to healthier past-times, such as making sober friends, using therapeutic tools for emotional and psychological self-care, and building self-esteem through mastering a new skill or hobby.

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How to Discover Your Interests After Rehab

One of the consequences of addiction is a loss of identity; many recovering addicts have no real idea about what interests them besides alcohol or drugs. That is because they have been living in crisis for so long, only living to manage the habit, that they have never had the time to put their energy into self-development.

One of the best ways to honestly “find yourself” again after recovery is to make a list of the hobbies and activities that used to fascinate you when you were younger. Here are three ways you can sit down and brainstorm solutions to this personal problem

1 – Try to remember what you wanted to be when you grew up as a child. Very often, the first thought that comes to mind will give you an idea of what type of hobby you should pursue.

2 – Think of someone that you really admire and why? What is it that they do that makes you respect them so much that you want to be just like them? Should you be cultivating what they do as part of your own skill-set?

3 – Do you have a skill or a talent that you know you are ignoring? If so, what is it? It might be time to cultivate this undeveloped part of you further.

By the way, do not be surprised if a hobby or activity that you take up eventually becomes a career. Many recovering addicts find that they save so much money, now that they are not indulging in their favorite habit, that they have the funds to set themselves up in a new business or go to school.

Activities To Try After Rehab

Although hobbies are essential, there are also certain therapeutic activities that you should take up after rehab, and most of them have to do with practicing self-care. Here are five therapeutic activities to take up after rehab to help you stay grounded emotionally and physically and more empowered when confronted with a choice to use or not to use. These are things that you should be practicing every day to help strengthen your faith in yourself, especially when you feel you are living moment-to-moment fighting a temptation to fall into old habits.

1 – Take up meditation: It is best to meditate once in the morning and once at night. Meditation helps prevent the anxiety attacks, depression, and the “busy brain” that sometimes plagues the recovering addict for months after rehab. Deep breathing helps with physical symptoms such as shaking or a foggy brain. The constant dismissal of worrisome thoughts while meditation helps to ground you and deal with triggers to use.

2 – Be a writer: Writing your thoughts down in a journal can help you express feeling without judgment, and also, the physical act of writing with your hand can help rewire your brain out of a distracted or anxious state to one that is more peaceful and grounded. One type of journal that is very easy to keep is the “Attitude of Gratitude” journal, where you write down five things you are grateful for in your life and the reasons why. You then visualize and write down another five things you would like to see happen over the short term. This keeps your mind focused on the present and your goals and helps establish a positive mindset to start your day.

3 – Take a walk in nature every day: Even mild aerobic activity can help boost the serotonin levels in your brain and help allay any anxiety you might be feeling as the result of quitting drugs or alcohol. If possible, immerse yourself in natural settings as much as possible to calm you and find peace of mind.

4 – Learn how to give yourself a Timeout: Recovering addicts often feel driven, anxious, and resentful because their minds are overwhelmed with the need to catch up in life. Emotions long stuffed down often come up, and so do memories. Without drugs or alcohol, it is so much easier to be triggered to use because of the events around you. When you feel overwhelmed, it is important to know how to withdraw and get the rest that you need to recover your sense of serenity.

5 – Get your mind off yourself and get into community service: Nothing helps cure the “stinking thinking” and feelings of self-pity that often accompany recovery from addiction more than doing something for someone else. Consider coaching kids’ softball, volunteering at a local soup kitchen, or organizing clean-up crews to help beautify local beaches and parks.

Soothing background image of white and gray waves.

Hobbies to Try After Rehab

Here are 10 suggested safe hobbies to try after addiction rehabilitation that can foster your self-esteem, occupy time that would be formerly spent drinking, and help you develop healthy relationships with others.

1 – Cooking: Cooking is a great choice of hobby for recovering users because it involves self-care. You can take classes, cook for others or cook for charities.

2 – Running: Long-distance running is a favorite activity of many recovering addicts because exercise that involves a great deal of stamina activates brain chemicals that evoke feelings of wellbeing.

3 – Team Sports: Join a local baseball or football team to improve your physical health and social skills.

4 – Photography: Photography is a hobby with the potential for personal growth and opportunities to engage with others, especially if you join a class or go on field trips.

5 – Gardening: If you have a green thumb, then go ahead and create your perfect landscape. Working with the soil is very therapeutic. Joining a garden club can help you meet new people.

6 – Horseback riding: This equine therapy for recovering addicts involves engagement with an animal, self-discipline, and aerobic exercise.

7 – Playing an instrument: Music therapy can be incredibly therapeutic because it stimulates positive responses in the brain.

8 – Games: Playing games can help occupy your mind entirely and spare your thoughts about using again.

9 – Arts and crafts: Art therapy like painting, working with clay, carpentry, knitting, and any hobby that involves working with your hands can help create feelings of accomplishment and peace.

10 – Plan frequent small day trips: Hiking, foraging, and exploring new places always gives you something to look forward to besides using.

Finally, it is important to realize that recovery from addiction is unique to every individual. For instance, if playing in a band or playing card games triggers you to drink or do drugs, it is probably not good to go back to that activity. The important thing is to find a hobby that is not traumatic, does not lead you back to socializing with old friends that use and that resonates with you in a profoundly personal and fulfilling way.