06 Jun Redefining Fun in Addiction Recovery

It can be difficult for recovering addicts to close the door to their past addictions completely when they fear that it also means the end of having “fun” in life. Breaking free from addiction does require a great deal of effort and a heavy dose of seriousness, but that doesn’t mean that life after addiction will be free of fun. In fact, becoming free of the many worries and consequences that are tied to substance addiction is the best way that you can prepare yourself to live an exciting and fulfilling life. If you’re still caught in the grips of addiction, or if you’re in the early stages of recovery, and fear that from here on out life is going to be a whole lot less exciting, here is what you need to know about redefining fun in addiction recovery.

Nostalgia can be deceiving.

Nostalgia has a funny way of romanticizing times in our lives, making them out to be much happier and much more fulfilling than they really were. It has a tendency to amplify good memories and minimize the bad ones that are interspersed with those memories. In this way, looking back on a time when you were caught in drug or alcohol addiction is extremely dangerous; you might find yourself remembering fun times you had with friends while forgetting the mental and physical pain that came as a consequence of your addiction. So, when looking back on your past addictions, be sure to remind yourself of the stresses that entered your life as a result. Putting an end to addiction will free those stresses from your life and open the door to creating good memories that don’t have to have negative side effects tied to them.

You may need to retrain your brain.

Some addicts enter into recovery with the fear that they won’t know what to do for fun without a drink in their hand or without drugs to entertain them. But remember: an inability to imagine having fun without these substances does not mean that you won’t; rather, it is an indication of just how much your past addiction has worked on your brain to become a prime focus, even a necessity, in your life. Once you’ve undergone the detoxification process and taken the steps to heal both physically and mentally from your addiction, retraining your brain to let other activities into your life will play a central role in your successful recovery.

Seek fulfillment, not pleasure.

There is a difference between the temporary rush of endorphins that substances offer and the lasting joy and fulfillment that come from taking part in life and human connection. When the euphoria of drugs wears off, intense symptoms of withdrawal move in: the complete opposite of euphoria. With pleasurable and fulfilling activities such as running, dancing, yoga, or mountain climbing, you’ll enjoy natural highs that in the long run will contribute to a stronger body and mind. During the early stages of addiction recovery, seek out activities that will provide this type of fulfillment for you. Without being high on a substance, you will actually be able to remember the good times you have while you are sober, bottle them up, and use them later as fuel during those times when you feel tempted to use again.

Betsy Firth is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She graduated from Purdue University. She began her career in residential treatment in 1984. Betsy’s professional passion is in assisting others to heal from trauma or disruptions in attachment.
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