Part of recovery is finding ways to cope with withdrawal symptoms and how to fight addiction and relapse. The better equipped you are to address the inevitable cravings, the more likely you are to stay sober.
Staying sober, however, is about so much more than abstaining from drugs or alcohol. It is about cultivating a new sense of purpose in your life and living with intent. Instead of drifting between “good” and “bad,” you can learn to live life in all its colors. You discover how to balance the challenges with the joys and choose to seek positivity and inspiration in the most meaningful ways.
How New Skills and Hobbies Aid the Fight Against Addiction and Relapse
Learning new activities and cultivating new hobbies is something you will encounter in rehab. Your therapist will encourage you to continue after your initial treatment.
SMART Goals and Recovery
In rehab, you will learn the concept of SMART goals. These are objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Setting goals using this framework makes it easier to construct a meaningful life. Instead of considering sobriety something that is up to chance, you know that it’s in your power. You realize that you are creating the life you want and the future you envision, step by step through setting SMART goals.
One aspect of SMART recovery goals is Vital Absorbing Creative Interests (VCAI). These are hobbies you adopt that help activates the neural networks in your brain, leading to more positive change through creativity and exploration. When people partake in VCAIs, their brain becomes wholly absorbed in the present moment, providing various benefits, which we will explore below.
Anxiety is common for people in recovery, whether it results from their newfound sobriety or a clinical disorder. Feeling anxious can cause you to question your ability to stay in control of your recovery. You may even wonder whether you’re strong enough to beat cravings or if it is simply better to give in to them. Finally, anxiety will also make you doubt the progress you’ve made and keep you stuck instead of allowing you to grow.
New activities, even ones as simple as doodling or knitting, allow you to focus your attention on the present. You reconnect with your body and mind by engaging in some activity that requires you to be here, as you are, right now. And you realize that you’re much more capable of handling worries than your anxiety would have you think.
Fight Addiction and Relapse
Withdrawal is at its most intense during the detox process, but you will continue to experience cravings after rehab, too. Following recovery, you will encounter many triggers that will make you want to use again. The old part of your brain formed during addiction will tempt you to use, even as new parts of your mind developed through recovery know better.
If you are preparing to go into rehab, having new hobbies planned will allow you to distract yourself from the temporary side effects of drug or alcohol withdrawal. Read more about persevering through withdrawal.
After rehab, you will know you have outlets to fall back on when you are facing cravings. They offer a form of support and direction when you otherwise feel lost and confused. You will need to put that energy you’re fighting somewhere. Immersive, creative activities are the perfect space to do that.
It may also help to learn the danger signs that often appear before a relapse occurs.
Build New Brain Connections
Addiction gets formed out of habit, which stems from neural pathways in the brain. Learning new things activates parts of your brain that may have been dormant for some time while you were using. As new connections start to form, you are less likely to fall back on old pathways that cause you to repeat old behavioral patterns. For example, when you get “in the zone” doing a new activity, parts of the brain that activate during a craving begin to weaken. When your brain is more focused on its current tasks, it expends less energy convincing you to fall into old, unhealthy patterns.
New Things to Try in Recovery
VCAIs are creative by nature, but you do not have to be an artist to do them. While learning how to draw or paint is a great pursuit, they certainly are not your only options. It is a good idea to have multiple activities for different moods; your energy levels will shift, especially in the early months of recovery when feeling depressed is common. Some days, you might be drawn to jogging and exercising. Other days you may need something more low-key and reflective, like journaling.
Other activities people take up during recovery include:
- Team sports
- Reading books
- Yoga and Pilates
- Cooking and baking
- Playing an instrument
- Studying new subjects
There is limitless potential in what you can do to build healthy habits during recovery. As you fight against addiction and relapse, choosing new interests to pursue will bring you a sense of achievement and purpose. In addition, doing so will empower you to combat self-doubt, which leads you to question whether you can truly live sober while fighting addiction and relapse.
Get Started Today with an Accredited Addiction Rehab
As you invest more time in things you love, you will also begin to see that there is so much more worth living for that you are not willing to give up on your addiction. If substance abuse affects you or someone you love and want the first step toward a brighter and sober life, please contact our professional team at Ocean Hills Recovery.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.