They say that idle hands are the devil’s playground. While that may or may not be true, individuals in recovery are often told to keep themselves busy, especially when experiencing cravings, so that the mind doesn’t become preoccupied with substance abuse. In that way, boredom could even be considered dangerous to those who are still new to recovery and still adjusting to their hard-won sobriety. Although being productive offers feelings of accomplishment, fulfillment, and pride, even individuals in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction need to have a little fun every now and then.
The summer season is ripe with an air of possibility. This probably comes from the experience of summertime during adolescence when a few months of freedom between the end of one school year and the beginning of the next are cherished and exciting in a way that few other things ever could be. It’s the season of leisure, the time to be carefree. The summer is the part of the year where having fun is less an abstract wish and almost an expectation.
Those who have experienced chemical dependency have become accustomed to a very particular and harmful brand of summertime excitement, which is why it’s important for individuals in recovery to plan plenty of summertime activities that don’t require intoxication to be enjoyed. To honor this season of sunshine and adventure, consider these seven ways to enjoy the summer season and make memories that you’ll want to remember.
#1 – Take a Summer Vacation
For many of us, the summer season is often associated with fond memories of family vacations taken over the course of our youths. The beach is a popular destination for families looking to soak up the summer sun, but it’s not uncommon for some families to take summertime sightseeing trips around the country or even abroad. In the United States alone, there are thousands of miles of beaches on either coast as well as plenty of sights to see like the Grand Canyon, Disney World, the massive redwoods of Washington State, Mount Rushmore, the Florida Everglades, and so on.
If you’re more of a world traveler, historic ruins in Greece and Italy, Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower, and the pyramids of Egypt might be more appealing. No matter what location represents the ideal destination, summertime vacations are one of the best seasonal activities; you’ll see so many beautiful places and have so much fun that alcohol and drugs will be the last things on your mind.
#2 – Learn Something New
Taking the opposite approach as the previous entry on the list, summertime is an ideal season for learning something new. Since many of us will have extra leisure time, taking advantage of the longer days by learning something new is not only a productive investment of time, but it can be a lot of fun too. Consider taking this time to learn a new skill or trade such as sewing or carpentry, or you could learn a language like you’ve always wanted to do, or take a business class so you can learn how to turn your brilliant idea into a thriving start-up, or learn to play the piano or guitar so you can start a band. The sky’s the limit.
#3 – Start or Join a Book Club
With the advent of social media and things like Netflix and Roku, reading has fallen further and further by the wayside for many people. However, one needs only to step into a bookstore and look around at the millions of books there are at our disposal to see that reading is far from a lost art. In fact, nowadays a number of the Hollywood movies we come to love are based on books, which means that there are a number of books out there that could be your next favorite movie.
Why not just skip the middleman and start reading some books? Studies on the effects of reading have found that there are a lot of benefits to reading books, which includes mental stimulation, stress reduction, expanding and improving grammar and vocabulary, increasing knowledge, improving concentration and focus, and a number of other benefits as well. You can even make reading more of a social experience by joining or starting a book club, meeting with groups of other readers to discuss and share your favorite summertime reads.
#4 – Find Opportunities to Volunteer or Help Others
Giving selflessly of oneself in order to help others is one of the most rewarding feelings there is. It feels better than any drug, lasts much longer, and doesn’t involve the risk of financial ruin. Many towns have a Salvation Army where altruistic individuals can donate their time and energy to help those in need; it’s also helpful to volunteer for things like soup kitchens or clothing and book drives. For those who don’t have a lot of extra time on their hands, donating unneeded, unused, or unwanted clothes and furniture to places like Goodwill and the Salvation Army can be just as rewarding. There are even a number of websites—such as VolunteerMatch.org—that allow individuals to find opportunities to volunteer right in their own towns.
#5 – Go Solo
Some of the most satisfying summer activities don’t involve being in a group. One example of an enjoyable solo summer activity is going to the park and enjoying a great book. You can also people watch from a local coffee shop or eatery that has an outdoor patio. Additionally, you can attend free community events, church festivals, or other gatherings solo. Doing so may be a great way to meet new people and make friends.
#6 – Exercise
Exercise not only provides a flood of dopamine and other natural “feel good” chemicals to the brain and body, it can also be a great way to meet new people that have healthy lifestyles and mindsets. Many communities may have informal running or biking clubs that you can join. If your fitness levels increase, you could sign up for a half-marathon, zombie run, or enter in Tough Mudders. Additionally, you can take advantage of the local scenery by hiking, rock climbing, or even taking your dog for a stroll.
#7 – Get Crafty or Creative
One of the most time-tested and effective ways to keep busy while having fun is by doing some arts and crafts. Scrapbooking became popular several years back, which is a great activity for those who take or have a lot of pictures and need something other than a shoebox to keep them in. However, individuals who don’t find scrapbooking to be that appealing can choose from a wealth of other options for expressing or exploring one’s creativity, whether it’s in painting, sketching with charcoal, sculpting with modeling clay, sewing quilts or clothes, making collages, refinishing and repurposing old furniture, and so on.
#8 – Check Out Local Concerts and Festivals
Outdoor concerts and festivals can be dangerous for those in recovery because of the number of people and casual drug use. However, these events can be safe and enjoyable when you attend with others who may be sober or with trusted friends. Many of the major festivals may have online message boards and, as an option, you may want to organize a group of sober festival goers.
#9 – Make Extra Spending Money with a Part-Time Job
Maybe working isn’t the most fun or appealing activity in the world, but who doesn’t love extra spending money? Those who find themselves with a surplus of downtime during the summer might consider finding themselves a part-time job, whether it’s their only job or a second job with just a couple shifts each week. Having the extra income means more money for things like going to dinner or the movies with one’s significant other or with friends, being able to splurge on a day at the spa or that tablet computer that’s just gone on sale, or even just saving it for an emergency or a rainy day.
#10 – Join and Engage with Local Recovery Groups
Recovering from addiction can be a little lonely, especially in the beginning after having to abandon old friends who still recreationally abuse alcohol and drugs and, consequently, would jeopardize one’s recovery. However, since many people have extra leisure time during the summer season, this is a great time to explore local recovery groups in the community and begin making new friends.
This might mean joining a new Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous group nearby, or maybe there’s some other locally-run recovery support group that welcomes new members. Making new friends who are supportive to one’s recovery means having a number of peers with whom recovering addicts can enjoy leisurely summertime activities without worrying about compromising sobriety and recovery.
If you or someone you love is suffering from addiction to alcohol or drugs, the Palm Beach Institute can help. We have a team of knowledgeable addiction and recovery specialists who have helped countless individuals recover from chemical dependency, becoming healthier and more productive individuals who can enjoy life while being free from addiction. Call us today so we can help you regain your independence.