When addicts and alcoholics in early recovery enter a treatment program, many believe that it is simply a matter of quitting their substance of choice. They imagine that being sober involves spending your entire life saying “No” to an overpowering desire for drugs and alcohol. For these newly sober recovering addicts, sobriety might seem like a pretty bleak future, compared to which even the miseries of active addiction might seem preferable.
When these recovering addicts enroll in sober living homes, however, they are often surprised to find out that the process of recovery is a holistic experience. Recovery means making changes in every aspect of life.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, mere abstinence is never sufficient for people trying to stay sober on a long term basis. Recovering addicts have to change their approach to socializing and connecting with others, which involves addressing mental health issues, behavioral patterns, and simply practicing connecting with others.
Isolation and Substance Abuse
It is common for people in the recovery community to refer to alcoholism and addiction as “diseases of isolation.” This term refers to two distinct but overlapping phenomena.
The first is that social isolation and its emotional effect, loneliness, are common factors driving addiction. Alcohol and drugs can comfort people while they’re alone, and they are also commonly perceived as “social lubrication” tools that help people make friends and have more positive interactions with others.
The second phenomenon is that alcoholism and addiction actually make people lonelier. When addiction takes center stage, friendships fall by the wayside as drug use because the dominant priority. Substance abuse can also lead to antisocial behavior. All of this results in friends and family being pushed away.
Sadly, these two phenomena form a vicious cycle. People who have spent years engaging in substance abuse find it harder to get sober and implement healthy life changes, because addiction has likely damaged the social support systems that make this possible.
Finding a Sense of Community in Treatment Programs
For this reason, most treatment programs work with recovering addicts right away on developing a social support system. There’s no reason to wait until addicts are calm and finished detoxing. The process of detoxing and those arduous first few weeks of sobriety are in fact easier when supported by others who are experiencing the same pain.
In sober living homes, the primary focus is on community. Sober recovering addicts need to learn to work and live together in the same home.
For many, this is indeed a learning process. Addicts who are used to following nothing but their own selfish impulses must learn to recognize the needs and desires of others. This involves learning a wide variety of skills, among them compromise, negotiation, and most importantly empathy.
Ultimately, however, residents of sober living homes realize that they have a lot to gain from these relationships — which for many quickly become strong friendships. Having friends who understand the trials and tribulations of early sobriety is an incredibly powerful source of support that makes the whole process easier.
Sober Living Community
Learning how to live responsibly in a community is also useful practice for life — these are necessary skills that continue to strengthen a recovering addict’s social ties for years to come, making relapse less likely with each passing year. In fact, one recent study on sober living homes showed that the primary factors behind long term recovery are social support and 12-step program involvement (another form of social support encouraged by sober living houses).
Of course, the most obvious benefit of having a crew of recovering addicts is that it makes recovery fun. Sober living homes tend to be filled with laughter. Residents spend a lot of time bonding, joking, sharing stories, and playing games.
Most sober living homes organize outings to do fun activities like hiking and surfing. It is during these moments that many recovering addicts first make the discovery that sobriety is not a painful state of always saying “no” to drugs and alcohol, but a joyful state of saying “yes” to life.
How Recovering Addicts Maintain Their Sobriety after Addiction Treatment
While inpatient treatment is temporary, successful recovering addicts discover that the joys of a sober community are permanent gifts. Most continue to follow a program of recovery in the rooms of 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.
These meetings exist in every major city around the world. Recovering addicts can continue to expand their sober social networks and get the support they need to remain sober. Moreover, they can provide critical support to others.
This isn’t just a selfless activity. Research shows that helping others, by reducing focus on personal ego and selfish desires, actually weakens addiction. By immersing themselves in a 12-step program after finishing addiction treatment, addicts can continue to live a joyful life and stay sober.
Don’t Do it Alone!
If you’re considering getting sober, why add the extra challenge of doing it alone? A sober living facility in Los Angeles like Design for Recovery can provide you with a recovery program that allows you to live with and receive support from other individuals who are also in recovery. Contact Design for Recovery today to discuss how they can help you make positive changes in your life while living in a supportive environment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sober Living and Activities for Recovering Individuals and
Recovery requires developing a new way of life. During recovery, people may learn to heal by quitting their addictions and adopting a healthy and positive lifestyle. Some of the activities will assist them in creating a better life for themselves.Participating in activities also teaches people how to have sober fun while practicing self-care. They promote emotional, physical, and mental recovery while encouraging lifestyle modifications. Activities can also build sober social networks and develop efficient coping mechanisms for negative thoughts and anxiety. Other advantages of engaging in activities for recovering individuals include:
- Preventing depression and loneliness
- Enhancing the immune system
- Increasing self-esteem and confidence
- Managing stress
- Encouraging a holistic recovery
- Encouraging community participation and healthy friendships
- Assisting people in achieving personal recovery goals
- Preventing relapse
Finding the right hobbies or activities for recovering individuals begins with determining their strengths and interests. Moreover, finding sober hobbies that allow them to connect with themselves and others is a healthy diversion from thoughts of using drugs or drinking alcohol.For example, if they enjoy creating art, they could consider participating in a local art workshop. They may also learn new recipes if they have a passion for cooking or set up a basketball game with their sober friends if they love sports. Through these activities, they find or rediscover a fondness for healthy outlets and interests. Therapeutic activities also encourage them to see the benefit of staying on the road to long-term recovery.
When people abuse alcohol or drugs, both the body and the mind are harmed since addictive substances alter the body’s chemistry. When substances are eliminated, they may experience withdrawal, anxiety, depression, and sensitivity to some of life’s key stressors and common triggers. The good thing is that physical activity can help them overcome negative emotions and improve their health.Here are other proven benefits of physical exercise in addiction recovery:
- Improved mood
- Better sleep
- Stronger immune system
- Increased energy
- Stress management
- Decreased risk of relapse
Art or music therapy can help people relieve stress and express their emotions more effectively. It can improve relaxation, reduce anxiety, and increase positive feelings.As addiction harms the brain by altering the natural biochemistry, it can lead to long-term consequences for the brain’s reward-processing and memory functions. Painting, drawing, playing music, songwriting, and other healthy artistic pursuits may help the brain recuperate from disease and injury.
Recovery is a period of personal growth and change. A person in recovery may benefit from trying new activities, rekindling old interests, and rebuilding their lives using the following recovery tools that help maintain sobriety:
- Healthy Hobbies
- A Sober Support Network
- Recovery Goals
- Exercise and a Balanced Diet
- Coping Skills
Aside from healthy activities like regular exercise and art therapy, attending group therapy or individual therapy are critical to maintaining sobriety. Through recovery groups, a person can cultivate connections with sober friends and avoid going back to places where drug or alcohol use is prevalent. Attending support groups will help them surround themselves with individuals who can hold them accountable and provide support, counsel, and empathy throughout their recovery journey.Therapy provides a safe, nonjudgmental, and confidential setting where a person can explore their feelings and discuss ways of managing difficult emotions with an experienced professional. They can identify their childhood self, things or people that trigger a relapse, and recovery goals. They may also learn anger management skills, discuss self-care practices, and apply self-awareness skills.
To help a recovering addict stay sober, here are some tips and suggestions:
- Provide support
- Educate yourself
- Encourage professional help
- Create a sober environment
- Build a support network
- Practice self-care
- Be patient
A sober online community is a virtual platform or network where individuals in recovery from addiction can connect, support each other, and share their experiences in a sober and supportive environment. These communities, which encompass both sober activity community and sober recovery community, provide a space for individuals to seek guidance, find encouragement, and build connections with others who are also on the path to sobriety.
The community also plays a vital role in community sober living by offering a sense of belonging and accountability to residents, fostering a supportive environment where individuals can live together while maintaining their sobriety. Whether it’s through sharing sober activities, discussing recovery strategies, or offering emotional support, these online communities are valuable resources for those seeking to build a strong foundation in their sober journey.
- Kitzinger, R. H., Jr, Gardner, J. A., Moran, M., Celkos, C., Fasano, N., Linares, E., Muthee, J., & Royzner, G. (2023). Habits and Routines of Adults in Early Recovery From Substance Use Disorder: Clinical and Research Implications From a Mixed Methodology Exploratory Study. Substance abuse: research and treatment, 17, 11782218231153843. https://doi.org/10.1177/11782218231153843