by Patrick Meninga
Your idea of what is fun in your life will change as you remain clean and sober. For myself, when I was still stuck in addiction, I defined everything in my life in terms of drinking and using drugs.
Going to the movies? I had to have a buzz, or it wasn’t any fun.
Going to a sporting event? Same thing. I had to have a buzz, or it just wasn’t fun for me.
Concerts? You better believe I had to have a buzz of some sort. Otherwise, what was the point?
Stuff that was supposed to be fun in its own right had lost all interest for me, because all I cared about was being drunk and high. Activities that used to be genuinely fun for me were now just minor details to engage in while I got wasted.
So when I was faced with the proposition of getting clean and sober, I thought: “How will I ever have any fun again?” And I was serious about that question. I really believed that I would be miserable without being able to self-medicate.
This is part of our “uniqueness” that we have, a part of our denial. We think we are special, and that the only way we could ever have fun is to be drunk or high.
Of course, the truth is that any addict or alcoholic can and will learn to have fun again in recovery, it just takes time.
Consider the ideas that:
- Most people in recovery go back to the stuff that they did before they became addicted. Fishing, baseball, social events, socializing with friends, going to movies, and so on. Whatever you did before you started self-medicating, those are likely things that you will return to someday. NOTE: Most of it will probably not appeal at first in early sobriety. Why? Because you think you need to be drunk or high to enjoy those old activities. Time heals all wounds. That stuff becomes fun again.
- Our idea of fun in active addiction involved extreme states (getting sloppy drunk, etc.). In recovery, we learn to appreciate peace, contentment, and the finer things in life. For example, enjoying nice company over a long meal. In addiction, such things just got in the way of getting drunk (or they were the excuse to do so!). But in recovery, we learn to appreciate the finer things, and our idea of fun and of enjoyment slowly begins to change. Again, this takes time!
- In addiction, our goal was to self-medicate, to feel good, it was about ME ME ME! In recovery, as we learn to reach out and help other people, we learn that we get a tremendous boost from doing so, and it starts to remove the focus from ME ME ME. Some of our most joyous moments in sobriety come from connecting with another struggling alcoholic or addict. Our selfish interests of addiction give way to a more simple joy in recovery.
Will this happen overnight? I bet you can guess the answer to that one! Again, it takes time to start experiencing this in your life.
I don’t want people to think that you have to be clean and sober for years for these benefits to be realized. That is not the case at all. Just don’t expect miracles at 20 days sober. If you are actively trying to change your life and taking positive action every day, then your life can be completely transformed well inside of the one year mark. Don’t think that it takes years or decades.