Recreational Recovery

Categories: Counseling

Recreational Recovery

Strong Recovery

I hear these two sayings all the time and I think they illustrate the importance of recreational recovery:
  • All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
  • Idleness is the devils workshop.
In this blog we are going to cover the role of recreation in a strong recovery.
Addiction thrives when doing too much and doing too little.  Addiction has a way of taking all your free time, activities you once enjoyed have not been engaged in for a long long time. Many rehab counselor’s have asked “what do you like to do when you’re not getting high?” and the answer might just be “I don’t know”. Perhaps those old activities have become tainted with the residue of addiction or you simply drifted away from them.  The reality of life is that it must be enjoyed and learning to engage in recreational activities is a key element of a strong recovery.

What does recreation mean?

Recreation is a process that takes us back to an original attitude, spirit, or way of being.  For the most part recreation is playing.  Playing stimulates many things like joy, excitement, learning, communication, leadership, novel behavior, and healing.  Recreation seeks to re-create the heart and attitude of a child.  Recreation helps us cope with unpleasant tasks, adds meaning and purpose to life, and inspires creative solutions.
Some kids and most adults find play a challenge as they age and get exposed to life experiences.  Life has a way of making it hard to get into the role of playing.  This can make us forget how to play and create a condition where we don’t know what to do for fun.  Unfortunately, addiction always has an answer for what to do for fun…”get high”.  “Not knowing” how to play, have fun, or enjoy the moment increases risk of relapse.  Because of this risk of relapse and the benefits of recreation it must be an element of recovery.

What does recreation do for recovery?

  • Recreation helps you cope with unpleasant tasks.  Whether you see recreation as a reward for working hard or a soothing balm for the beating you just got, having fun makes us feel good.  Feeling good can help us do those unpleasant and necessary tasks.
  • Recreation adds meaning and purpose to life.  Many people have jobs they feel stuck in but they have rich recreational pursuits that give them friends, a sense of belonging, and feeling of accomplishments.
  • Recreation inspires creative solutions.  Many problems are solved when we stop thinking about them and focus on something else.
  • Recreation changes our attitude and emotional state.
Jesus says…
“Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” (Matthew 19:14)  We need to be like children before our Heavenly Father.  We need to feel free to run to our Abba.  We need the attitude of fun and freedom that children at play have.
Recreational recovery restores your ability to play, enjoy life, have spontaneous insights, create meaning and purpose, and cope with unpleasant things.  A strong recovery will have recreation as a part of it.  Take steps to recreate the heart of a child.

How to find recreation in recovery.

  • Make a bucket list
  • Go out with friends
  • Attend recovery social gatherings
  • Schedule a fun vacation annually
  • Get away from civilization
  • Play a game
  • Climb something
  • Pretend
  • Go to a retreat
  • Play with your kid
  • Put your phone down
  • Make art


Assess Your Recreational Recovery

What was the last recreational thing you did and when was it?  If your answer to this question is “I don’t know” or “too long ago” then your recovery needs work.  Have you been to the new indoor climbing facility, the indoor go cart track, the new exhibit at the zoo?  Strengthen your recovery by adding recreational recovery to the mix.  Don’t over think it.  Go have fun today.  It might be as simple as singing some old songs on the way to work or taking batting practice.  Simple doesn’t mean a waste of time.
Leadershop Ministries offers Addiction Counseling for people working on a Strong Recovery.  If you need help putting all the pieces of recovery together look us up on Facebook or call our office at 865.384.4864.
Author: Todd Davis, PhD, MFT, LADC

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