Recovering from an addiction is a long process. While the initial aspect of detoxing and recovering from physical dependency is relatively fast (as little as a few weeks to months for most of us), the long-term aspect of psychological recovery can take years. Many people struggling with addiction face barriers and obstacles, and one of those obstacles is simply not knowing what to do with your time. The longer you’ve been addicted, the larger this problem will be, as you’ll likely have been accustomed to simply filling spare time with drugs or alcohol. Without substance abuse, you need something to do that will provide fulfillment, happiness, and satisfaction in your life.
Replacing an addiction with a new passion isn’t easy. This is especially true if you don’t know what you like or why you might like it. However, you can give yourself time, try new things, push yourself to be better, and eventually find something that you can be passionate about.
Take Time to Explore Your Interests
Most people suffering from a substance abuse problem eventually begin to make that substance their lives. Both men and women suffer problems with ego, simply because the substance takes over so much of their lives that they don’t know who they are without the actions and behaviors surrounding it. You may have spent the better part of your addicted life thinking about using, hiding your usage, getting money for drugs or alcohol, and getting to places where you would find drugs or alcohol. When that’s gone, many of the things you dedicated serious time and thought to are simply gone. You can’t spend time with the people you knew during that time unless they are also clean and sober. You can’t spend your time doing nothing. What then?
The truth is that you are so much more than your addiction. You just aren’t yet aware of what you currently like or need. The only answer to that is to explore, try new things, find things that catch your interest, and do them. The good news is that there are a range of classes, courses, and even online tutorials that can help you involve yourself with things to try them out. You do, of course, have to dedicate a significant amount of time (think 20-40 hours) to a pursuit before you can decide if you like it for itself or not, but in some cases, you’ll be able to immediately tell if something is for you or not. What can you explore? Cooking, exercise, sports, writing, board games, mindfulness, yoga, and similar are all very loved hobbies. But, there are no limits. You can try anything you want. Learn languages. Take flying lessons. It’s up to you. Your goal is simply to explore and find out what you do and do not like.
Recognize the Competence Gap
Chances are that anything you try will be difficult at first. You won’t likely be innately good at most things, so you will fail them at first. This can be frustrating and it can be a barrier to actually finding something you love. If you start knitting, you won’t enjoy it the first time because you’ll be too busy being frustrated by using the needles correctly.
If you don’t have any real interest in something or what you can do with it, you probably don’t have to pursue it. But you should give yourself the time to get to a basic level of competency before you decide if you can be passionate about this or not, providing you have a significant level of interest in the pursuit. Everything is frustrating and difficult at first and dedicating the time to get good at it is what will make it rewarding.
You can take a class, watch tutorials, and keep working on your skills for at least 20 hours to get over that gap, after which you can decide how much you like a hobby once it’s no longer frustrating.
Consider Sports and Active Hobbies
Not everyone is built for sports or active hobbies and many people simply don’t have the physical health to engage in them. If this applies to you, feel free to disregard this advice. However, physical activities such as sports, running, swimming, etc., are extremely good choices as hobbies for persons recovering from addiction. Physical activity helps you to stimulate dopamine and serotonin production in the brain, helps to improve oxygen and blood flow through the body, and will boost energy. Each of these factors will help you to improve your physical and mental health, will help you to stay happy, and will help you to fight cravings.
Sports like yoga and martial arts are often very beneficial, simply because they contain elements of mindfulness and mental health. However, any activity will be beneficial, providing you can have fun, get yourself moving, and hopefully participate with others when taking part.
Anything Can Be Your Passion
Most people like to try to pursue passions that make money, be passionate about a career, or pursue something that improves their health. While this is “ideal” it doesn’t have to be the case. If you can be passionate about math problems and go study and become an accountant or a stock broker, that’s great. If you’re passionate about puzzles and work your way up to putting together a 100,000-piece puzzle, that’s also great. The idea isn’t that you have to be useful or practical with your time, it’s that you want to do something you enjoy with your time.
In most cases, that something you enjoy should involve other people. You want to be able to pursue your passion on your own and entertain yourself alone. You also want to be able to share it with others, find friends who enjoy your hobby as well, and enjoy yourself in social settings. Luckily, most hobbies make room for this and you will be able to work on something you love and then work on it together with friends.
At the same time, you don’t have to immediately find something you love. Most of us aren’t innately built for anything. We aren’t designed to do one job. We aren’t inherently drawn to one activity. If you don’t find something that immediately calls to you, you aren’t doing anything wrong. Try to find joy in what you’re doing, in doing it to the best of your ability, and in improving what you’re doing.
In most cases, you’ll be able to more easily enjoy things if you can do them in social settings, where you meet people, have fun, and enjoy yourself with friends or new acquaintances.
Finding your passion can be a great thing to help you move forward from addiction. If you can focus on things you love rather than cravings, loneliness, or even boredom, you’ll be that much better off. But, you don’t have to be desperate to do so. If you are, you’ll likely end up doing something just to be doing something, and you might be just as bored doing so. Make sure you’re having fun, make sure you are actually interested in your hobby, and if not, keep changing it until you do.
Congratulations on your recovery journey and good luck moving forward.