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23 Activities for a Sober Weekend

Surviving sober weekends is one of the biggest challenges for people new to recovery. What do you do for fun now? What do you do, period? Whether you were a get-dressed-up-and-hit-the-clubs kind of person, a barfly, a house party-lover, or a home alone with the bottle and the pipe type, drinking and drugging was a lifestyle. A lifestyle that took up a lot of your free time, if not all of it. It takes time to get drunk or high. You have to keep that feeling going, then you pass out. Finally, you sleep it off, only to later deal with a nasty hangover. In all of that, there is no time for hobbies, side hustles, friends and family commitments, a workout regime, or anything else for that matter.

You’ve gotten sober and it’s great—you’re making it work! But then you hit those long, empty sober weekends

Scared of that down time with nothing to do?

Don’t worry. Boring is the new cool. Once you settle into some new activities, hobbies, communities, and whatever else you find in your sobriety, you will be fine. You will be better than fine. You will be healthy, happy, and satisfied. It does, however, take some time, experimentation, and practice to get there. So, let’s talk about what you can do in early recovery to actually enjoy your time.

Are you just getting to know a sober life and struggling with figuring out what you should do with your sober weekends?

8 ways for surviving sober weekends

  1. A spa day at home—solo or with a friend. Wash your hair, do a mask… Easy self-care tasks that might just make you feel physically better.
  2. Organize and clean out your closet and donate items. Yeah, not the most exciting thing in the world, but we’re just getting used to normal life and normal activities.
  3. Call and catch up with family members or friends.
  4. Stress-relieving coloring books can help pass time very easily.
  5. Movie night/bingeworthy shows.
  6. Go to that meeting, yoga class, or any other activity that brings spirituality or recovery into your day.
  7. Take care of the animals or family members who might need you.
  8. Take a walk and listen to music.

OK, congratulations! You’re not exactly in early sobriety anymore but you’re still in that in between stage where life doesn’t feel totally comfortable yet. Let’s go a little bigger with our activities and begin to explore long-term sober weekends.

8 awesome weekend activities

  1. Try Dreaming big. Tour real estate in the neighborhood you’d like to live.
  2. Spend a day living the life you strive to reach, and the positive feelings will help you hit your goals.
  3. Be a tourist. drive to the nearest big city and be a tourist for a day, there are plenty of online guides of what to do in every city.
  4. Sit still, breathe, learn to meditate.
  5. Game night with friends or family. Traditional board games or maybe not. Video games and modern board games that are more detailed and fun.
  6. Try a hobby from your adolescence. Try something that you may have given up. Guitar, drawing etc.
  7. Spend a day helping others and your community! Volunteering your time to help others gives you a purpose and makes it easier than ever to meet new friends.
  8. Go to your local animal shelter and play with / pet the animals.

Are you more advanced in your recovery, or just looking for sober activities that could challenge you a bit more? Here are some suggestions for really taking up some time:

  1. Throw a sober dinner party or some other sober event where you can showcase your new cooking, entertaining, and sober skills, team up with another sober person to plan and have fun!
  2. Take classes! Check out your local YMCA, community college, or online!
  3. Study a language you’ve always wanted to learn.
  4. Learn a new skill that interests you. Work with websites? Take a WordPress class. Want to build an app? They have programs to help you do that now. Have something you have always wanted to try? Now’s the time and YouTube can be good teacher.
  5. Learn how to cook your favorite food or desert.
  6. Find an online community in something you’re interested in. Discord, Reddit, and Facebook all have groups to discuss your favorite things with people around the world.
  7. Explore new podcasts to listen to.
small business team in meeting

What Professions Have the Highest Rates of Drug Abuse?

Your job can play a significant role in your life, even when you’re outside of the workplace. For example, some jobs may be physically demanding or even dangerous and that can cause problems with injuries or pain. Other jobs may be especially mentally or emotionally stressful which can have an impact on your overall well-being.

What happens in the workplace may spill over into family or leisure time, leaving some people struggling to cope with physical or mental stress. This can increase the likelihood of drug or alcohol abuse.

A substance use disorder can lead to lost productivity, higher levels of employee absenteeism, and an increased risk of injuries and accidents at work. Those detrimental effects don’t include the effects of substance abuse on employees outside of the workplace.

Some industries and professions have higher rates of drug abuse and alcohol abuse than others. Here are ten professions with high rates of substance abuse..

Restaurant and Hospitality Workers

People who work in restaurants, food service or hospitality have higher rates of problem drinking and substance abuse than the general population. The 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that workers in the accommodations or food service industry had not only the highest rates of substance use disorders (16.9%), but also the highest rate of past month illicit drug use (19.1%).

One study that looked at employees of a national restaurant chain found that 80% of surveyed male employees showed dangerous alcohol use patterns and 64% of female employees showed similar patterns. 

Doctors and Health Care Professionals

Doctors and health care professionals have some of the most demanding high-stress jobs in the world. They’re responsible for the lives of others, and sometimes that stress and pressure can take its toll. An estimated 10-14% of health care professionals have a substance use disorder, but there are some studies showing doctors are more likely to abuse prescription drugs than their patients.

There are different reasons doctors and health care professionals may develop substance abuse problems, aside from the stress of their job. The availability and access to prescription drugs is one reason, along with the need for pain management.

A Mayo Clinic study from 2009 found that 50.3% of doctors in a physician health program misused alcohol, and almost 36% misused opioids. A study from 2013 showed doctors abused prescription medications as a way to relieve stress and emotional or physical pain.

Arts and Entertainment Professionals

Creativity and substance use have a long-standing association. Professionals in the arts and entertainment industry, such as actors and musicians, tend to show higher-than-average rates of both drinking and drug use. With nearly 14% reporting past month drug use and 11.5% of reporting heavy drinking, the creative freedom these careers often offer around scheduling and working hours may contribute to the rates and types of substance use these kinds of workers experience.

Lawyers and Legal Professionals

A 2016 study of more than 13,000 lawyers done by the American Bar Association found that 1 in 5 lawyers are problem drinkers. That’s double the rate of other professionals that have a similar level of education.

Younger lawyers who have been practicing less than ten years tend to show the highest rates of substance abuse and mental health problems. This could be a coping mechanism used to accommodate the expectation that lawyers will be available at all times and growing demands of billable hours.

Construction

Around 15% of construction workers may deal with substance abuse. At 16.5%, they reported the second highest rate of past month heavy alcohol use in the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Over the past decade, opioid use has become a bigger part. This could stem from the fact that construction workers are more likely to deal with injuries and pain that could lead them to use prescription opioids initially. A study from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health showed that from 2011 to 2015, people employed in construction or mining made up 26% of all opioid overdose deaths in the state.

Management

Management is a broad term, but generally it’s accepted to mean anyone who manages or supervises other people. That can mean anything from a direct supervisor to a CEO. Management professionals show high levels of substance abuse rates. 

For example, 12.1% of surveyed management professionals said they’d used illegal drugs in the past month and 11.4% reported a substance use disorder within the past year.

Sales Professionals

Sales professionals tend to have high demands placed on them to close deals and they may also be people who like to feel a rush of adrenaline. There tends to be a lot of socializing in sales as well, and all of these may be some factors that lead to higher rates of substance abuse among sales professionals than other positions.

Sales professionals work in different industries, but as an example, according to SAMHSA data and research, 10.9% of people working full time in real estate, rental and leasing and 10.3% of retail sales workers reported past month illicit drug use. Just below that, 7.8% of professionals in the wholesale trade reported illicit drug use in the previous month. 

The same data indicated among adults employed in retail, 10.5% met the criteria for a substance use disorder in the year prior to the survey. That number was 10.4% for people working in wholesale and 10% of people working in real estate and leasing. 

Police Officers

Police and other law enforcement officers grapple with high-stress work environments, emergency scenarios and demanding work hours and schedules that may make family or leisure time difficult. They deal with crisis daily, sometimes at the risk of their own lives. That can lead to substance use as a means to cope or unwind.  

One in four police officers has a problem with alcohol or drugs. While the substance use disorder rate for the general population is around 10%, for police officers, it may be anywhere from 20% to 30%.

Firefighters

Firefighters are first responders that face similar challenges to those faced by police officers. Studies consistently show high rates of heavy or binge drinking. One study showed binge drinking as one of the most prevalent problems for professional firefighters, with 60% of the study participants reporting the behavior. 

In another study, heavy or binge drinking was reported in 50% of surveyed male firefighters in the past month and driving while intoxicated was reported by 9% of male firefighters. 

First responders also tend to show high rates of mental health issues including PTSD, depression, anxiety and suicide ideation. This could contribute to substance misuse as a way to self-medicate mental health symptoms.

Members of the Military

While active-duty military personnel undergo frequent drug testing, they tend to show higher rates of alcohol usethan the general population. According to research released in 2015, 1 in 5 veterans had a substance use disorder (compared to the national average of 1 in 11). Additionally, veterans with a substance use disorder are more likely to also have a mental health disorder, particularly PTSD or a depressive disorder.

We all find ways to cope with life’s stress, including stress from work. Sometimes those coping mechanisms can turn into substance abuse. In fact, nearly 10% of Americans have a drug use disorder at some point in their lives, but only 25% report receiving treatment. If you or a loved one are dealing with an addiction, call The Recovery Village®today. We offer individualized treatment programs that can help you overcome your addiction and put you on a path to recovery.

    business woman listening intently

    Taking Care of Your Mental Health in Sobriety…From The Fix…

    By Helaina Hovitz 08/15/19

    Pre-sobriety, alcohol and drugs often serve as coping mechanisms. When you quit, you’ll need different kinds of mental and emotional support. Make sure you have tools and solutions in place.
    Woman lying on the floor reading comics, self-care, mental health in recovery

    It’s important to have a healthy eat, sleep, work, play routine, and if you don’t have one, it’s time to make one.  Photo by Joe Ciciarelli on Unsplash

    PSA: there’s some text missing from the headlines popping up lately that show quitting drinking improves women’s mental health.

    Essentially, the findings of the Canadian Medical Association Journal are that not drinking at all is actually better for your health than drinking when you’re stressed, no matter how much you want to lean into the whole a-glass-of-red-wine-a-day-is-good-for-you thing.

    For many of us, there’s legwork necessary for improving our mental health when we stop drinking and using drugs, in addition to simply stopping. When you stop drinking for an extended period of time (for some of us that may mean 24 hours, others, 4 weeks or 3 months), you may realize that you have symptoms of alcoholism or drug addiction, and the work you need to do to live a healthier life without substances will be outlined for you at a rehab facility, in a 12-step program, or via another form of recovery.

    Or you may realize you are more of a problem drinker, who feels uncomfortable without a drink at meals, social gatherings, or after a long day, but you want to give it up for lifestyle or health reasons. You also likely have work to do for your mental health.

    Why? Well, it was making you happy. It relaxed you. It calmed your anxiety. It signified fun, the loss of some inhibition, made things just a bit warmer and brighter and easier. It was a reward, it was something to do, and it was a way to cope with stress; not just day-to-day stress, but the stress of memories and past events that you carry around without even knowing and need to let go of.

    If you respond internally with “Oh, darn, oh well” to the idea of a lifetime without Rosé all day, this may not pertain to you. But no matter why you drink or how often, alcohol is doing something for you. If you give it up, you may need to find another way of getting that need met. We all have (or had) our reasons, whether we’re aware of them or not, for drinking. And if it’s not just something we can just choose to leave in the interest of a more mindful yogi life or healthier gut, then it’s something we probably need to look at.

    I spent a few years in my late teens and early twenties trying to stop drinking on my own. I was already in very strong recovery from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)—but I had no idea what I was in for when I took alcohol and weed out of the equation. If I wasn’t already in therapy, forget it—I don’t think I could have done it.

    But what helped me the most back then were the steps, the social supports, reaching out for help, having places to go and people to see where alcohol was not present, and the continued ability to work on myself—and some other issues I didn’t know I had until I’d stopped drowning them in “social” drinks.

    In your first few months to a year of stopping drinking, you’re going to need more than just a positive attitude to stay mentally healthy—especially because life will come slap it right out of you one day without warning, as life tends to do.

    Here’s how you can make sure you’re prepared for anything.

    Professional  Help

    While not all therapists are amazing, the right therapist can pretty much be a hero in your life—someone who listens to you, makes you feel heard, and makes themselves available to you via text and email when you’re in crisis. These therapists guide you, challenge you, and help you grow.

    A good therapist will see issues that drinking masked.

    My roster included PTSD, Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), and I fit the bill for a few symptoms of other overlapping issues. Specific therapy, targeted therapy, is crucial for a strong recovery. For me, that meant Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), but a therapist who specializes in addiction can also be a valuable asset.

    We have to learn new ways of being in the world from people who understand what we’re going through and who can be objective, reliable, and helpful supports, and while seeking comfort and wisdom from our friends and family is invaluable, nothing can take the place of professional help.

                Social  Support  and  Community

    It’s important to lean not just on the friends you have already, but please, find a meet up, a meeting, even a local non-drinkers’ gathering where you can slowly start to form a group of contacts you can call, text, or hang out with who know how to deal with some of the issues you may experience.

    At a 12-step meeting, you can word-vom literally everything going on to a stranger, but it’s a good idea to take more care and go slower when establishing lighthearted dishing with other folks who don’t drink but who don’t identify as “addicts or alcoholics.”

    As for your “drinking” and “using” and “partying” friends—just start to bring some awareness into the picture when you’re around them. Do they still want to hang out and do something if you’re not drinking, or going to a club or a bar? When we change, the people in our lives either change with us, or we realize we’re heading in a different direction.

            Self-Care

    Self-care has become such a buzzword that we kind of just make it fit anywhere:

    Bath time! Self-care.

    Massage! Self-care.

    Five gluten-free, vegan cupcakes! Self-care.

    All of these things (except maybe keep an eye on the cupcake count because sugar) qualify, and they’re wonderful. Start to figure out what makes you feel good—as you’re doing it, and not just as a means to an end.

    Note: if you hate massages, that is not self-care.

    But if you like to read, setting aside time from your busy schedule to spend a couple hours with a good book is a great example of self-care.

    Saying no to events you don’t want to go to when you’re exhausted—unless it’s for a good friend, or you might lose your job if you refuse—is self-care.

    Meditation: This is terrifying at first, but it’s really not so bad if you ease into it, like sticking your toe in the temperature-regulated hotel pool. You can start with two minutes a day, and you can use an app to help you along, offering everything from vocal guidance to a gentle gong to signify the end of a timed silent session. As far as guided meditations go, they’re now specific to everything from commuting to being sick and there’s even one that addresses nervousness about meditating. And there are devices available to help, like a headband that can track your level of calm and bring your awareness back to your breath with nature sounds.

    Exercise and diet: You’ve got to keep moving. You may already be in shape, or you may be “out of shape,” but in addition to giving yourself permission to replace the sugar in alcohol with the sugar in doughnuts, it’s time to start treating your body better, since there is such a strong connection between your microbiome (gut), your brain (the prefrontal cortex reacts to processed sugar the same way it reacts to opioids—by triggering dopamine) and your overall feeling of being healthy, especially mentally healthy. You don’t need to become someone who runs a 5K or hits the gym every day and pretends to like it. But keeping your body in motion and eating healthier will yield many benefits, some immediate and some that you’ll see over time, including better sleep, improved mood, stress relief, and more.

    Upgrade Your PPTs (people, places, things)

    New life, new people, new things, new places, new activities. It doesn’t make sense to keep hanging out at bars anymore, and there’s a difference between showing up to a bridal shower where other women may be drinking and heading to your old haunt where the only thing to do is drink, especially after a stressful day.

    Start to discover the world around you. Try taking some classes, visit new neighborhoods and cultural institutions. See if you can pick up new hobbies or dig deeper into old ones. Use social media and the Internet to track down other people doing the same.

    It can be hard, as an adult, to make new friends, but it’s not impossible. Go somewhere people chat. A dog run or park (if you have a dog or even if you’re just “considering” getting one and gathering information), a meet up for people who love anime, a writer’s collective. Join Facebook groups or browse Meetup and see what’s out there! Taking a class by yourself is also a great way to double down: not only will you learn something new, but you’ll find others who share your interest, maybe even someone else who was also badass enough to show up solo.

    Logistical  Stability

    It’s important to have a healthy eat, sleep, work, play routine, and if you don’t have one, it’s time to make one.

    You may already have a job that you need to turn your attention to even more deeply, and you may have a passion project you want to add into the mix. Most importantly, you should get involved with volunteer work—you don’t have to serve food at a soup kitchen; maybe you can offer your writing skills to a nonprofit, or if you know graphic design you can help them build their new website.

    If you don’t have a steady job, look for one—a sober job is often referred to as one that isn’t our dream career, but is a place that we have to show up to regularly, keeps us accountable, provides an environment to socialize with others, and is a way for us to earn honest money.

    If your current job makes you so unhappy it contributed to your drinking, maybe look around for something better and if you feel you’re ready, go for that dream job.

    Also, make sure your housing situation is safe and affordable, and conducive to your new way of life (i.e., if you chose your roommates because they party 24/7, it might be time to look for a new place).

    Bottom line: It’s dangerous for people who might be using alcohol or drugs to self-medicate depression or other underlying conditions to give up that medication without other supports, tools, and solutions in place. Your life is going to get bigger and better, and you’re going to get healthier—but as with all good things that don’t create a false feeling of safety and happiness, you have to do a little work to get there.