Most people have hobbies. Some hobbies can become addictions. It is certain that addicts in early recovery can see how their previous behaviors became lost as their addiction became more and more the driving force of their lives. Or perhaps their hobbies became additional addictions that they could not stop being compulsive and obsessive about. Learning balance in recovery is a constant challenge, as it is for most people. Balancing work with play, balancing money for bills and fun, balancing home with social life, balancing everything can be a challenge and will remain one when life intervenes and things get out of balance again.
Sometimes an illness will unbalance a life that was going along well. Other times it will be the good things that come into life that can create an imbalance, such as a new relationship, a new job, a move (up or down), a marriage, a child, stepchildren, loss of a loved one or family member, addition of a loved one or family member, so many things can challenge our balancing act.
Many new to recovery are sure that their lives will become boring and dull without substance or process abuse, the reason for their recovery to begin with. In many ways, this could be true. However, most find that they are so busy with recovery that they don’t have time to miss the old behaviors, and that what they are doing in recovery is so much more rewarding that they can’t remember why they participated in their addiction to begin with. This is all to the good.
As with any life, however, it is important for the balance to swing back to fun. Not everyone will agree on what fun is. For some it will be the social gatherings of their recovery groups. For others, it will be learning to write, to paint, to play a musical instrument, to collect butterflies, to dance, to act on stage or screen, the possibilities are endless. Hobbies and interests round us out as human beings, opening doors to new careers and creating opportunities for new relationships with others whose interests are similar to our own. Finding these interests can be a challenge that is enjoyable to overcome. There are psychological tests available to indicate interests for career development and education, surveys to guide people toward the appropriate avenues for exploration, and unlimited numbers of books on every subject possible. Computers and technology now make all of this information readily available to everyone.
Many addicts will experiment with different ideas for hobbies before they settle on the ones they will begin to enjoy. Their interests will wax and wane over time and new hobbies will replace the first ones. As they grow and change and life goes on, they will find things that sing to their hearts for a time and then morph into new interests and hobbies, or they will meet others who introduce them to new places and things to do. The world is a vast and rich environment, full of unimaginable opportunities for growth and enjoyment. Recovery can open the doors to all of this for those who are looking for their hearts’ desires.
Kelly McClanahan has an MSW in clinical social work, with a specialization in substance abuse treatment. Having worked in this field for over 20 years, she is currently working on her certification as an addictions’ counselor.
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