Coming up with a list of things to do instead of drinking alcohol can be particularly challenging for those in the early stages of recovery. You’re probably used to spending more time than you even realized thinking about and using alcohol. When drinking is no longer a viable option for passing the time or occupying yourself, you may be left wondering what your hobbies are and how to find new ones.
The good news is: There are tons of things to do instead of drinking.
As you figure out what you like to do, it’s important to take stock of your feelings and what brings you joy without alcohol use. While you may have been the life of the party when you went out drinking with friends, you may not want to be around large groups of people when sober. That’s okay!
The sober activities below are just a few options—among many—for things to do instead of drinking. Pick one and give it a try. You might end up loving it!
6 Things to Do at Home Instead of Drinking
Sometimes home can be a triggering place, especially if it’s where you frequently used alcohol. While you may have accumulated associations between home and alcohol, you can change those associations by cultivating new hobbies.
1. Cook a Homemade Meal
Whether you’re Martha Stewart in the kitchen or someone who barely knows the difference between a ladle and a spatula, cooking homemade meals can be a challenging and enjoyable experience. Take the time to prepare for this activity, and take enjoyment in that too. Find a recipe that looks delicious and purchase the necessary ingredients. Then put on some good music or a podcast and get cooking—and eating!
2. Create an Artistic Piece
There are many ways to express your creativity artistically, like:
- Filming a short video with your phone
- Sculpting clay from the craft store
- Writing a play
Explore different mediums of expression to find the thing that genuinely gives you joy.
3. Read a Book
Books still exist, and they can still provide hours of entertainment and stimulation you just won’t find on social media. Try taking on that book you always wanted to read but were too intimidated to start. Or find a local or online book club, you can discuss what you’ve read with others.
4. Host a Game Night
If you have a family, game nights with board games or video games may be the perfect sober activity to bond with your loved ones. If you live alone, invite some friends over or people from your support group to get to know each other better and have fun while doing it.
5. Write a Letter
Many people are in touch over social media, but there’s nothing better than receiving something other than bills in the mail. Sit down and write a letter or note to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while, like an elderly relative or a teacher from your childhood. You’ll make their day, and you might even get a letter in return!
Release those feel-good endorphins by performing a workout at home. If you have a treadmill or a weight set at home, you have everything you need. But if you don’t have this equipment, don’t worry. There are tons of at-home workouts and yoga videos on YouTube.
Learn more about how exercise supports addiction recovery here.
5 Things to Do Outside the Home Instead of Drinking
The world is your oyster when you choose a life free from alcohol. Alcohol won’t control where you go, who you hang out with, or how long you spend away from your addictive substance of choice. It may be a good idea to avoid the places you frequented in the throes of your addiction to prevent triggering cravings, but there are lots of other things to do instead of drinking outside your home.
1. Join a Recreational Sports Team
This activity will be especially attractive to those who enjoyed playing sports before their addiction, but recreational sports can be fun for anyone. Playing sports can help release frustrations you may be experiencing while collaborating with a team on a common goal.
Check out local:
- Kickball teams
- Racquetball courts
- Swimming pools
- And more
2. Volunteer with a Local Charity
There are few things as rewarding and fulfilling as donating your time to a cause you believe in. These activities focus your energy on others—often those in need—and away from your personal struggles.
Try one of these:
- Walk dogs or play with cats at an animal shelter.
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
- Collect food for a food pantry.
- Wash your elderly neighbor’s car.
3. Get Out Into Nature
Let nature’s beauty and majesty wow you and ground you in the present moment. Whether you choose to take a hike in the woods, go camping, or just go for a walk on a nature trail, by the end of the activity, you’ll be glad you did! Adventure therapy can actually be a very effective addiction treatment. Learn more about it here.
4. Garden or Perform Yard Work
There’s almost always something that needs to be done in the yard or garden. Building a raised bed, pulling weeds, mowing the lawn, or painting an old fence can let you get in the zone and give you a sense of accomplishment once completed.
5. Attend a Local Festival
Local festivals can be a great way to have fun and get your mind off drinking. Of course, you’ll want to avoid festivals with lots of alcohol, but there are still plenty to choose from. There are festivals for all kinds of interests too, ranging from comics to art to film to food.
These suggestions are by no means an exhaustive list, just primers to get you thinking. If none of them sparked excitement in you, then do a little self-reflection. Think about what you used to do before you started drinking or something you’ve always thought would be cool to try. If you can’t recall anything or if you no longer find joy in what you once loved, don’t worry. Start trying new things, paying attention to what brings you joy as you do.