It’s a not uncommon idea that alcohol is necessary for any festive event to truly be enjoyable. This frequently cited and insidious idea suggests that only by indulging in some form of substance abuse can a person truly have a good time. Sobriety, in this calculus, is a literal manifestation of boredom and staying sober is refusing fun. While this is hardly a universal concept, it is a popular enough idea that it has led to many a descent into alcoholism and addiction for far too many people. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

For the recovering addict, looking to leave substance abuse behind, one of the vital parts of recovery must be rediscovering joy in a sober lifestyle.

The linkage between substance abuse and “coolness” comes from a variety of places. The media helps promote this idea, in beer commercials, in stoner comedies and just a general feeling in a great many TV shows and movies that normal behavior is inextricably linked to indulging in an addictive substance of some kind.

This is reinforced by peer pressure and social mores. Teenagers seek out drugs and alcohol to feel mature and “with it.” The friend who doesn’t drink at the party, unless he’s specified as a designated driver, can be questioned and even ridiculed.

For too many people, having fun is only possible if there is some form of substance abuse connected to the activity.

This can be a serious problem for the recovering addict. Out of rehab and clean, the former addict wants to return to an active lifestyle of fun and fellowship, but without doing anything that could lead to a relapse. 

Rediscovering Joy in a Sober Lifestyle

Yet this be challenging. Going to a party could expose the recovering addict to addictive behaviors that can be serious triggers for cravings. Hanging out with former friends who still indulge in some form of substance abuse can be a temptation. Even just going to a restaurant can lead to questions of why they refuse a drink. Sure, explaining it can be a trigger might answer that question, but who wants to admit to a substance abuse history every time you’re at an eatery with a drinks menu?

The true issue is finding ways to enjoy yourself without any form of substance abuse. Leading a sober lifestyle is not a penance. The recovering addict is allowed to have fun, but the trick is finding joy in aspects of life that don’t involve drugs or alcohol.

This might mean behavior adjustments. You may have to stop going to clubs and bars. You may spend more time at family restaurants, nursing a soda instead of a beer, with friends and loved ones. You may have to cut out certain activities – if your golf game is more about the drinks cart than birdies, that may have to go – and find new activities to enjoy while sober.

It will require changes. But it doesn’t have to be tragic.

At Good Landing Recovery, their treatment program can help you determine ways to find joy in your sobriety and doing things that reinforce that, rather than risk relapse. Making that transition as part of your recovery process is a great way to help you better leave behind addiction culture for a healthier, more fulfilling life.