Life after recovery from addiction can feel as if you’ve stepped into someone else’s world. Drug use is a habit that requires the user to formulate his or her entire lifestyle based on acquiring, using and recovering from drugs. Once you’ve broken free from the grip of addiction, you need to reinvent your lifestyle around healthy hobbies that will help you stay on the sober track. Here are some of the best hobbies to help recovering addicts stay sober.
Team Sports & Exercise
You may have heard of recovering drug users becoming engrossed in athletic hobbies like running or team sports. But you probably haven’t heard the reasons why exercise is such an effective hobby for maintaining your sobriety. Drugs activate specific neurotransmitters, chemicals and receptors in the brain that cause feelings of pleasure, relaxation or elation. It’s often a craving for these feelings that lures recovering addicts back to using. However, exercise creates the same feelings of pleasure at certain intensities. Aerobic exercise is particularly effective at producing euphoric feelings through the release of endorphins. Activities such as running, jogging, cycling, swimming or rowing, in which your heart rate is elevated and your body uses oxygen at a higher rate, have proven to be the most effective in helping recovering addicts maintain their sobriety. As an added bonus, doing aerobic exercise with a group, such as in a recurring fitness class or on a sports team, gives recovering addicts an extra level of protection against relapse. Being part of a group or team sport holds you accountable and gives you a more powerful incentive to succeed.
Few things in life make us feel the way food does. The first bite into your favorite food can be more powerful than any drug. However, prolonged drug use can alter your taste buds and make delicious foods seem bland or overwhelmed by one specific taste profile, such as sweet, sour or bitter. As you go through recovery, your body and brain will gradually return to a healthy equilibrium and you may find that food tastes differently to you while sober. Rediscover all the pleasures of food by taking up cooking. Not only will you have more control over what you are putting in your body, but also you will begin to appreciate the complexities of flavor on a deeper level. Furthermore, many cooking enthusiasts take great pleasure in creating a meal that their friends and family enjoy.
Preliminary research has shown that engaging in music therapy — which involves playing, listening to and/or studying music — can improve your ability to remain abstinent from drugs and reduces the risk of relapse. Little is known about why music is so effective at creating self-efficacy for sustained sobriety, but music therapy is being used increasingly to treat substance use disorders and help individuals maintain their recovery long-term. Your life after recovery from addiction can be anything you want it to be. Try these hobbies and find an activity that resonates within you. This is your opportunity to care for yourself on a deeper level by learning more about yourself and satisfying your needs with a fun, engaging hobby. Sources Perl, E., Shufman, E., Vas, A., Luger, S., & Steiner, J. E. (1997). Taste- and odor-reactivity in heroin addicts. The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences, 37(6), 1229-1254. Silverman, M. J. (2014). Effects of music therapy on drug avoidance self-efficacy in patients on a detoxification unit: a three-group randomized effectiveness study. Journal of Addictions Nursing, 25(4), 172-181. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25514686 Smith, M. A. & Lynch, W. J. (2011). Exercise as a potential treatment for drug abuse: Evidence from preclinical studies. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 2, 82. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3276339/