Often when people say “partying,” they mean drinking and using. In our culture, alcohol and drugs are so closely associated with fun that it’s hard to disentangle the two. When I was first getting sober, I worried I would stop having fun.
Five years in, that couldn’t be more incorrect. When you’re using substances to excess, eventually it stops being fun. Many people have seen (or been) the drunk person crying in the corner at a party. Active addiction distorts your emotions, making everything seem disproportionately intense. That may seem “exciting,” but fun is about enjoyment; dealing with unnecessarily dramatic emotions is not enjoyable. I have a lot more real joy in my life now.
I feel so much freer. A lot of the reason people think they can’t have fun without substances is because they are psychologically dependent on them. Alcohol or drugs become a crutch; it seems impossible to socialize without them. When you’re not constantly wondering how you will get more, you can just be where you are.
Soon after I got sober, a close friend drove me from the city to the county for an adventure. I realized it was the first time in over a decade I didn’t feel trapped when the sun was setting and I didn’t know when I’d be able to get alcohol or drugs. I could have fun with my friend and not be somewhere else mentally.
Sobriety frees up time and energy you would otherwise spend on obtaining or using substances. In recovery, a lot of people take on more enriching hobbies. These experiences are ultimately way more enjoyable and fulfilling than spending most of your day either wasted or recovering from being wasted.
When you’re drinking or using, it can feel like you’re fully immersed in whatever you’re doing. But it’s hard to be present that way. When I was in active addiction, I was in my own world. At a certain point of night, conversations became circular and repetitive. Now when I’m with my friends, I can really participate in conversation and enjoy their presence.
Another part of having fun is knowing you’re making memories. The day after a night out, friends would relay funny moments we’d had, and the moments would seem like dreams—vaguely familiar but unclear. Even if you do have fun, what’s the point if you can’t remember it?
Everyone’s version of fun is different, but whatever yours is, it’ll be cheaper and more rewarding without alcohol. If you like learning new things, you can sign up for a class. You can get into outdoor activities that are easily done with a friend—which you can do even during the COVID-19 pandemic with masks—like roller skating or hiking.
Watching movies is more fun when you can remember what happened. I can’t count the number of movies I’ve “seen” but can’t remember even the basic plot. Eating meals with people is cheaper when it doesn’t include booze.
In fact, most things you can do for fun sober are cheaper financially but richer personally. I have a life I couldn’t have imagined when I was in active addiction, with so much more to fill it than booze or drugs.
Some treatment centers—like TruHealing Centers—offer recreational therapy to show you how much more fun you can have in recovery. This type of therapy involves activities and field trips to practice engaging with the world sober.
If you are worried about your substance use, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for substance use and mental health disorders. At our facilities across the country, our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you learn to enjoy life sober. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.