One of the most common reasons why people resist treatment is that they’re afraid life will be dull and boring without drugs or alcohol. Having fun is a cornerstone of a happy life, and having fun in recovery is one of the most important factors for long-term success.

Redefining Fun

An article published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine stresses that redefining fun is one of the most important tasks in therapy and recovery.1 Research shows that, especially when people in recovery are under stress, they tend to think of their past substance abuse longingly, associating it with fun and relaxation. By comparison, their life of sobriety feels like anything but fun.

When you think of your days in active addiction as “fun” and sobriety as a “drag,” you downplay the negative consequences of your substance abuse and disqualify the positive results of quitting, and you may begin to show the signs of early relapse.

Research shows that when people expect to have fun, they usually have fun, and when they expect not to, they usually don’t. Cognitive-behavioral therapy during treatment helps you learn to redefine fun and dash your misconceptions that using is “fun” and not using is not fun. You’ll learn to think about fun and pleasure in a whole new way, and this will go a long way toward preventing a relapse.

Having Fun in Recovery Reduces Stress

Stress is a strong trigger for relapse. Keeping stress at bay or coping with it effectively is important in treatment, and it should be a major focus in recovery.2 Happily, one of the best ways to reduce your stress is to have fun.

Fun for you may be laughing with friends, hiking or camping, making art or playing music. It may be watching a great movie, dancing your butt off, or reading a really good book under a shade tree. Don’t rely on outdated beliefs about what’s fun to determine what is and isn’t a good time.

How to Have Fun in Recovery

Having fun in recovery may not come naturally right at first, but it won’t take long before you begin enjoying yourself, finding pleasure and fun in a variety of places. If you’re not sure how to go about having fun in recovery, consider the ways you used to have fun before you began using drugs or alcohol. Those activities may be worth a revisit.

Finding new hobbies is another way to ensure you’re having fun in recovery. What kinds of activities have you always thought you might enjoy? Now is the time to give them a try. You can also find out what your sober friends are into, and join them in their hobbies. Maybe you’ll discover a love for kayaking, or photography, or baking or sports.

You don’t always have to be doing something to have fun. Spending quality time with friends and family members whose company you enjoy can provide laughter and good times as well.

The Bottom Line on Having a Good Time in Recovery

Having fun in recovery reduces your risk of relapse. The important thing is to stay open-minded and maintain a positive attitude. Give activities a chance, and give yourself a chance to have fun doing them. Eventually, you won’t feel that you need to drink or use drugs in order to have fun or enhance your fun. You may even begin to wonder if the “fun” you had while you were under the influence was really fun at all.