I hear many people in early sobriety talk about that sober life feels sort of grey, boring and absolutely blah at times. Alcohol seemed to have had a powerful effect in creating things outwardly exciting for us. Once you quit drinking it may take some time for the enjoyable activities to have the same exciting effect. I often felt that alcohol gave me the stimulating reward feeling for the hard life as an adult. I often had (and sometimes still do) some romantic thoughts about my glamorous drinking days, and how life felt so spontaneous and exciting when I was drinking, of course totally forgetting about how impulsive and dangerous it was too.
Unfortunately my need for a return to thrill-seeking and escape had often lead me right back to drinking. When I finally decided that this was it and I was quitting, I had to come to terms with the end of that lifestyle which can be one of the hardest parts to change in sobriety. I remember clinging to it for many years.
I just could not imagine having any fun sober!
I attempted to hang out at bars and go to parties and not drink. I surely do not recommend this; it was just what I needed to finally notice that I could no longer do that if I wanted to get and stay sober.
BUT recovery is not meant to be the end of all fun, or adventure, or thrill-seeking, however it does require more effort to integrate not drinking into those activities. And it also meant doing new things and getting out of my comfort zone; opening the door to willingness to try something different!
In the beginning I just had to stop and not be involved. That meant parties, bars, concerts, wine festivals, and beer tastings and such were out! Then I had to start integrating activities where drinking was not the main attraction.
In the beginning I started going to museums and art galleries, and visited places that I have never been to. I also watched a lot of educational TV like the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel; it opened up a whole new world of knowledge to me.
I also found that being part of a 12 step program allowed me to socialize with other sober people. Most groups organize numerous events like movie nights, picnics and dances. And when you meet people at the events you will be able to get even more ideas! If you are interested in becoming a part of a 12 step program please visit their web page and look for events in your area.
Other options may be taking a fitness class, or a painting class. There are also activities you might try like the Photo a The Day challenges, like this one at FatMumSlim. I know, I know, all these may seem a bit boring or somewhat intimidating, but once you start doing few things you will find that the excitement will return and you will keep finding new interests things to do which do not involve drinking!
The process of joining these outlets into sobriety may take some time and change through the years. But eventually you may feel comfortable enough with going to a party or a bar for a special occasion or a concert! I remember my first sober concert it was amazing, and I had a blast and even more fun than I have imagined.
Believe me, the enjoyable activities will once again have the exciting effect and maybe even more because the excitement will be all natural!
What activities do you enjoy?
If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)*, please check out the Sober Courage menu at the top of this page for an extensive list of support groups and recovery related articles.
*Problem drinking that becomes severe is given the medical diagnosis of “alcohol use disorder” or AUD. AUD is a chronic relapsing brain disease characterized by compulsive alcohol use, loss of control over alcohol intake, and a negative emotional state when not using (Ref: NIAAA).