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How to Deal with Free Time in Early Sobriety

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

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How to Deal with Free Time in Early Sobriety cover

In early sobriety, free time can seem like a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, you now have more time to relax and do the things you’ve been wanting to do for a while. However, this time can also be challenging. Having too much free time leaves you with lots of opportunities to get bored and throw yourself back into destructive habits. Keeping yourself busy throughout your day is essential to staying sober in early sobriety. Here are some ways to deal with free time in early sobriety:

What Do You Do With The Time You Normally Spent on Alcohol or Drugs?

In early sobriety, you will have time on your hands. It might seem like a dream come true, but it can also be the hardest part of recovery. Being sober and bored can feel isolating and terrifying at first. You are used to filling your days with activities: drinking, going out with friends, staying up late… Now what?

A life led in excess demands constant activity to cope with all the things you must do instead of actually living. In early sobriety, you’re learning how to live again. Giving up drinking is only half the battle; now comes the hard part – learning how to live sober instead.

You may read this article and think it’s obvious advice. But after the initial excitement wears off and free time can feel like a burden that you don’t know what to do with. When you have hours to kill, the obvious choice, based on prior habits, may be to relapse and abuse drugs and alcohol. Don’t go there! Here are some tips to keep you on track during those lonely days of early sobriety…

Go to Meetings

As soon as you get out of rehab, start going to meetings as regularly as you can. This will help keep you accountable for your sobriety, and it’ll give you a sense of community as you learn to navigate early sobriety. You can also use these meetings to keep your schedule full as you transition out of treatment.


Exercise has a ton of benefits for your mental health, including reducing anxiety, increasing self-esteem, and improving your mood. Exercising regularly has been shown to improve your overall mental health, even more than antidepressants in some cases. If you aren’t in a position to join a gym but want to exercise, there are lots of free options available. You can go for a long walk, take a hike, or even do yoga at home.

Stay Connected to Your Support Network

Early sobriety is a great time to stay connected to the people who’ve helped you through treatment. You may want to consider finding a new sponsor if the person who was your sponsor while you were in treatment no longer lives nearby. You can also try finding a mentor, joining an online forum, or attending an in-person support group. 12-step meetings and other support groups not only help you build a social support system, but research shows that they are likely to keep you sober over the long-term as well.

Help Others

Helping others is a great way to feel good about yourself, as well as keep your mind off your own problems and cravings. If you’re not sure where you’d like to volunteer, try connecting with a nonprofit or social service organization in your area. You can also try reaching out to a friend or family member in need of help or volunteering with a local school.

Find a Hobby or Volunteer Opportunity

Finding a new hobby to enjoy in early sobriety can help occupy your time and keep you from getting bored. This can also help you stay connected with your interests, which may have shifted since you were using. It can also be a great way to meet other people who share your interests. If you’re not sure what you’d like to do, try going to your local library or bookstore and browsing the shelves for inspiration. If you want to volunteer, you can look for opportunities that interest you or that fit with your interests. You can also find opportunities related to your field or profession.

Stay Active in Recovery at Our Los Angeles Sober Living

Another way to keep busy and help keep yourself from getting bored is by staying involved in your sober living home. Design for Recovery is a structured sober living in West Los Angeles. While living in our sober house, you’ll have a highly scheduled routine, ensuring you don’t stray far from recovery. Every moment of the day will be devoted to building a new life, developing new habits, new skills, and new relationships. Not only will you build a sober life for yourself that you actually value, but you’ll learn how to have fun in sobriety without drugs and alcohol along the way.

Early sobriety can be challenging, especially if you’re dealing with cravings or depression. By keeping yourself busy, you can better avoid temptation and stay on track with your recovery. At Design for Recovery, you will learn how to deal with your free time in a way that benefits you and leads to long-term sobriety.

If you are ready to take charge of your life and get sober, reach out to our staff at Design for Recovery today!


Edited by: David Beasley

David Beasley - Design for Recovery

David Beasley is a certified RADT (Registered Alcohol/Drug Technician). David, moved to California from North Carolina after many failed attempts to get sober.

Medically Reviewed by: Charley Allen

Charley earned his Masters of Clinical Psychology from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a California Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).He teaches mindfulness to both adults and children in group setting such as schools, corporate workplaces, and medical treatment facilities.

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