Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Having Fun in Recovery

Before entering an addiction treatment program a common fear among many, especially young adults, is not being or having fun without drugs or alcohol. When this is expressed to me, I test the assumption by asking, what is fun about the condition you are in now? What is fun about being too hungover to get out of bed and attend to life? What is fun about waking up and not remembering the night before? What is fun about isolating and slowly losing everyone who is close to you?

I could pose endless rhetorical questions about the “fun” in active addiction, but the type of thinking that leads one to worry about not having fun sober is the same type of thinking that leads one back to a drink or drug. It is called having a “built in forgetter” when you think you are fun while using drugs and alcohol. You forget how not fun it can be, the horror that it creates in your social, spiritual and physical life and you end up drinking or using again. In short, you only remember the good times in order to make it ok for you to drink or use again. For many of us there were good times, but those were short lived. Many end up addicted because they are forever chasing the fun that they experienced the first few times they drank or used. As the using continues, the fun never fully resurfaces.

When I explain to someone how being sober can be fun I use children as an example. To have fun, they don’t need beer, cigarettes, cocaine or any other poison. They are in the moment playing and laughing. You were once a kid and had fun without drugs or alcohol and that joy is waiting for you again. Any activity you do under the influence you can do sober. Sporting events, concerts, restaurants, amusement parks and parties are all fun. Being in recovery isn’t about being isolated from the world – we did that enough while using. It is about being part of life and doing the same things everyone does – just without drugs and alcohol.

Take me for example. I am sober and I am going to Las Vegas this weekend for my bachelorette party. Hollywood would tell you – through movies like The Hangover 1 & 2 (and soon 3) that you can’t do Vegas sober – especially not a bachelor or bachelorette party. Well I am, and it is going to be fun. We are going to ride the rides, see a Cirque show, eat nice dinners, go to clubs and dance and attend the daytime pool parties at Marquee. I can enjoy and be present during all of these fun activities only because I am sober.

The bottom line is that if being sober were not fun, or less fun than being in active addiction, no one would be sober. It may be hard to imagine now, but once you put the drugs and alcohol down, the fun in life really begins to emerge.

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