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Recreation and Fun

It’s not easy to be an addict and it’s certainly not any easier to overcome an addiction. As we’ve learned, addiction is a brain disease, characterized by the altered structure and functioning of the brain that results from an extended period of substance abuse. When a person develops an addiction, he or she is basically experiencing a constant compulsion to seek and consume mind-altering substances. It results in deterioration of physical and mental health, damage to relationships, loss of career, and the loss of many other opportunities, too.
Fortunately, we know that addiction can be treated and overcome; however, a successful recovery can only occur with extensive psychotherapy, group therapy, life skills training, relapse prevention education, and… recreation and fun?

" Yes, you read that correctly: Recreation and fun in recovery can be very important parts of the rehabilitation process. But why? "

It goes without saying that recovering from an addiction to alcohol or drugs is hard work. When a person reaches the point of active addiction, substance abuse has become an all-consuming habit; in effect, alcohol or drugs become the most important thing in an addict’s life. After spending an extended period of time in active addiction, it gets very difficult to overcome the compulsion to seek and consume intoxicants, which is why addiction recovery is such hard work.

However, the effort that recovery requires can be a major roadblock to long-lasting recovery. With the various negative consequences of being an addict notwithstanding, many addicts enjoy being intoxicated and consuming mind-altering substances, at least in the earlier stages of their addictions. Being in the throes of active addiction is tantamount to living a carefree, uninhibited lifestyle, which, by extension, would make getting sober much like swearing off a lifestyle of fun. During the rehabilitation process, many recovering addicts will feel at times like they’re overwhelmed by the effort that getting sober requires. They might even feel burnt out by the recovery process, potentially causing them to miss their recent days of abusing substances with wanton abandon. For this reason, recreation and fun in recovery are extremely important. In short, it serves as an outlet during the recovery process, allowing individuals some time to enjoy themselves and take a much-needed break. Especially for those individuals for whom the recovery journey is a much longer road, it helps to break the process into more manageable units of time rather than a continuous expanse of overwhelming effort.

Recreation in Rehab

One of the many misconceptions that people have about addiction recovery is that, from the point of an individual enrolling in the program, it’s a non-stop sprint to the finish line. This is actually one of several key reasons why some addicts are resistant to recovery; rather than being able to ease into sobriety, they imagine rehabilitation programs to be a shock, much like jumping into a lake in the wintertime. However, while abstaining from alcohol and drugs is almost always mandatory for inpatient programs, it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal of an addiction recovery program is to teach individuals the skills necessary to achieve long-lasting recovery and to help them prepare to assume full responsibility for their continued abstinence once they return to their homes.

One of the key ways to help make addiction treatment programs a smooth transition into long-lasting recovery is to provide periods of relief and reprieve. In fact, these periods are often built into recovery programs in the form of recreation. Some of the most common recreational activities that are included in addiction programs include group exercise classes, yoga, swimming, jogging, hiking, and other holistic activities. There are even forms of therapy that are based on the idea that recreation can be therapeutic, which is the underlying basis of adventure therapies. But not all recreational activities are overtly physical; recreation can also include things like meditation and art classes, singing and dancing, and so on. The idea is to allocate some time for individuals to enjoy themselves and each other’s company, to socialize and release some of the stress they may have been holding onto or accumulated during the recovery process.

The Value of Recreation and Fun in Recovery

We’ve mentioned the fact that recreation in recovery gives people a chance to enjoy themselves, to release stress, and to socialize. But are there other benefits to incorporating recreation and fun in recovery? The short answer: Absolutely.

In active addiction, the vast majority of addicts dedicate almost all their waking hours to the pursuit and consumption of the substances to which they’ve become addicted. Since addiction is an all-consuming habit and basically an obsession, most other areas of a person’s life fall by the wayside, including health, relationships, career, and hobbies. Addicts who had been interested in art before becoming addicted will all but forget about their past passions. Those who enjoyed outdoors activities will have essentially rerouted that time to their substance abuse. This leads to a very bleak, joyless existence, which is exacerbated due to the tendency for alcohol and drugs to sap individuals of their ability to feel. It’s no coincidence that instances of depression and suicide are much higher among individuals with substance abuse problems.

Perhaps the most important benefit of recreation and fun in recovery is that it gives individuals the opportunity to reconnect with their passions and to develop new interests. While there are a number of reasons why a recovering addict may relapse, one of the most common is a lack of meaning and fulfillment in life. Having interests and hobbies provides individuals with an emotional outlet as they progress in their recovery journeys. As well, developing hobbies will give them productive activities with which they can fill their time rather than risking a relapse by having no way to fill their time. Therefore, recreation and fun in recovery serve as a means for individuals to rediscover what gives them joy so that the pursuit of those recreational and fun activities can help to fortify their sobriety.


Call Holistic Recovery Centers to Learn More

If you or someone you love would like to learn more about recreation and fun in recovery, call Holistic Recovery Centers toll-free at 877-723-7117. We’re available anytime, day or night, to help you or your loved one begin the healing journey.

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