Fun Things to Keep Busy & Off Drugs for the Holidays

For a lot of people, winter marks a great time of the year. They look forward to fun things like spending time with family, eating great food and celebrating the holidays. What some people don't know though, is how difficult this time of year can be for a recovering alcoholic or drug addict. For someone who is in recovery from a substance abuse problem, the holiday season can be especially troubling. Most of the time before getting sober, holidays used to be about getting drunk or high and using their drug of choice. Holidays were often an excuse to abuse drugs or alcohol, even if that meant hiding it from their friends and family.

When someone is newly sober, or sometimes even long into recovery, celebrating holidays can often become a relapse trigger and make them want to abuse drugs or alcohol again. Not to mention the limited outdoor activity, reduced sunlight, and less social contact that often comes with winter and colder temperatures. This can dramatically increase the risk of relapse for many addicts, especially those who also struggle with their mental health. If you or a loved one struggle with maintaining sobriety during the holidays, then you can probably relate.

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Here are a few fun things you can try to help keep you busy & off drugs this holiday season:

  1. Exercise

Though initially exercise may not sound like fun for everyone, it never hurts to try. Many who exercise regularly report feeling happier and less stressed when compared to those who don’t. Try signing up for a free membership at your local gym or start small by doing workout videos at home and cranking up the music. You can even download a video game like Just Dance to help get your heart rate going. If you can make it a regular habit, exercise is proven to increase things like self-confidence and reduce stress.

  1. Volunteer

Another great way to help keep you busy during the holidays is to volunteer your time to a great cause! You can start by working at your local soup kitchen or reach out to a local organization whose efforts you would like to support such as the Humane society. Research has consistently proven that those who give back to others, often feel better than those who only take care of themselves. Simply giving even just one hour of your time each week can make a world of difference for more than just yourself.

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  1. Fix Up Your Space

Is there a new design idea you have always been wanting to try? Or perhaps a cool new chair for your man cave? Try sprucing up a room in your house, one bit a time and on a budget that you can afford. Paint the walls a new color. Do whatever creatively comes to mind. This is a great way to expel some of your pent up mental energy. You can also spend time cleaning out places like the garage or the attic. All of these are great examples of things that will keep you busy and help you feel better at the same time.

  1. Get A Plant

Getting a plant can actually be very rewarding. If you have ever had the chance to speak with a gardener, they will likely tell you how mentally and spiritually fulfilling it can be. The same thing goes with getting a house plant. Attending to the needs of something as simple as a plant can help you stay busy and feel better about yourself. It can also help give you something to look forward to, which helps you further avoid a relapse, as getting drunk or high would likely mean its end. Getting a plant is also a great way of fixing up your space on a tight budget. Try visiting your local plant store and speaking with someone to help figure out the right type of plant for you.

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  1. Go Ice Skating or Play Hockey

Even though you may not be able to go outside as easily as you can in the summer, there are still plenty of activities that you can do during the colder months. There are many places to go ice skating, usually both indoors and out. You can also try to find a local hockey league in your city if you want to get a little physical on the ice. Perhaps even try getting together a group of sober friends or people from your local AA or NA support groups so that you can all lace up together and hit the puck around the ice. This is a great way to combine physical activity with your social support network while doing some fun things.

  1. Take Naps

With reduced sunlight and the related chemical changes that can happen in the brain with shorter days, it may be no surprise that you are tired halfway through the day more often than you used to be. Don't be afraid to take a nap every once in a while, maybe even once every day. Taking a nap is a great way to pass the day and has many proven benefits, such as improved cognitive abilities and heightened mood. Just as long as you don't start sleeping too much, as that can have its own set of problems.

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  1. Do Puzzles

Puzzles are a great way to get the creative juices flowing in the brain and release some mental tension. They also take up quite a bit of time to finish, which is great for the wintertime and holidays. Plus, once they are done it's a very celebratory and rewarding moment. Go to your local supermarket and take a peek at their puzzle section, you are sure to find one that you would like to complete. The great thing about puzzles is that you can do them alone, or with loved ones or friends.

These are just a few ideas to get you started on how to have fun and avoid any potential drug cravings during the holidays. We wish you the best during this time of year but if you do find that you need some additional support with your sobriety, then we are always here to help. Reach out to us at More Than Rehab any time of day!

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How to Live Without Drugs: 7 Ways to Overcome Addiction

If you have ever struggled with an addiction to drugs or alcohol then you know just how hard it can be to turn your life around and get sober, once and for all. For a lot of people who are still living in an active stage of drug addiction and/or alcohol abuse, having fun without the use of drugs or alcohol seems to be out of the question.

While people who struggle with a substance abuse problem often have a laundry list of reasons that keep them from getting sober, such as no desire or denial that they even have a problem to begin with. One major and common excuse is that there is no way to live life and have fun without the use of drugs or alcohol. Although it may feel that way for the majority of addicts, and those in the beginning stages of recovery, that just simply isn’t true.

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For someone who has been living life under the influence of powerful, mind altering drugs, it may seem as though there is no other alternative, but there is a way to live life while sober and still have fun at the same time. That is not to say that sobriety will not offer challenges, but getting through them without the use of drugs or alcohol will become very rewarding. Those in recovery understand how important it is to have an enjoyable life while maintaining sobriety.

Here is a list of 7 ways to live without drugs or alcohol that others have found useful.

  1. Work Out- Working out may not initially sound like everyone's idea of fun, but research has proven that physical activity reduces stress. Not only that but it also balances out the production of serotonin and dopamine, which are neurotransmitters commonly affected by drugs and alcohol. The stimulation of these through exercise naturally leads you to feeling happier. It is important to remember that working out can take on many forms, not just hitting the gym. Consider trying yoga, going swimming, or enrolling in a Zumba If you challenge yourself and are having fun, you are more likely to repeat the same activity.
  2. Play a Sport- To some, the idea of working out or going to the gym is not something they may be willing to do, and that's ok. Another way to stay physically active is by playing a sport. Most cities have community leagues for baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, etc. The majority of these leagues can be found by visiting your local cities governmental website. These community athletics leagues help to incorporate physical activity while offering a social aspect as well.
  3. Develop a Hobby- If sports or physical activity really just aren't your thing, then there are still ways to live without drugs or alcohol. One of the most helpful things to do for long-term sobriety is to develop a hobby, such as photography, cooking, reading, knitting, pottery, gardening, etc. Hobbies allow you to gain self-esteem and are naturally rewarding. They allow you to boost your motivation, improve a skill, and become better at something that you are interested in, which can be important in recovery as it gives you a little something extra to stay sober for.
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  • Volunteer- The simple act of volunteering has been reported as one of the easiest ways to have fun while in recovery. Research suggests that nearly 94% of people reported having an elevated or improved mood after having volunteered. Not to mention, volunteering is probably the cheapest way a person can have fun, it often costs you nothing but your time. The simple act of giving back is very personally rewarding, and can become a pillar in someone's life. Volunteering also gives you the opportunity to meet new people, a lot of whom are also in recovery.
  • Take Classes- A lot of people in recovery state that drugs or alcohol kept them from pursuing higher education. Well, sobriety is the second chance to pursue that goal. Go back to college or attend some local community classes. It is never too late to go back to school, and oftentimes first time students, or returning students, qualify for grants and student loans. You can also take classes to improve a hobby, such as creative writing classes, cooking, or photography and gardening. Going back to school or taking classes is easily one of the best ways to live without drugs or alcohol.
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  • Attend a Self-Help Group- Self-help groups are usually offered for free around the community. For those in recovery these often include Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Though they may not sound like fun at first, these are the preferred choices for those who are successful in their recovery. This is because they offer sober and social interactions. They often have sober activities outside of the group as well, such as barbecues or dances. This gives you the opportunity to meet new people and develop a good support system, which is important for long-term sobriety.
  • Meditation- To some, meditation is an important part of living life without drugs and alcohol. Meditation has been known to produce important changes to the structure and the function of the brain, helping to repair damage that may have been caused by the use of alcohol or drugs. It has also been shown to reduce stress and improve overall mental and physical health. It can also help to reduce depression and anxiety, which are common triggers for relapse. Meditation also increases spiritual awareness which can be extremely beneficial when learning how to live without drugs or alcohol.
  • These are just a few of the most common ways that others in recovery have found useful for their sobriety. There is life without drugs or alcohol, even though it may not feel like it to some. If you are someone you know is struggling with an addiction please do not hesitate to ask for help! We sincerely hope that you found this list useful and wish you the best in your recovery!

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    Regular exercise helps in addiction treatment and relapse prevention.

    Cardiovascular exercise can help in addiction treatment and relapse prevention strategies.

    Scientists at the University of Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions have identified how cardiovascular exercise can support rehab treatment for those struggling with addiction. In a study carried out on animals, researchers discovered that regular exercise targets areas of the brain that control dopamine. Cardio exercise has long been known to reduce anxiety, stress and depression, which are common triggers for alcohol and drug addiction. In addition to these benefits, regular exercise can alter the dopamine pathways in the brain. These findings lead researchers to believe that being active can help replace substance addiction with something much more healthy.

    Currently, the researchers are looking to see if physical exercise can permanently alter dopamine receptors in the human brain. These findings are shedding light on the brain's ability to receive pleasure. Long term drug or alcohol abuse can dramatically alter the chemical makeup of our central nervous system. Researchers are hoping to prove that even after a history of long term substance abuse, working out can help reshape the brain chemistry away from addictive behaviors.

    For cocaine addiction, exercise can help fight withdrawal symptoms and decrease stress-induced cocaine seeking behaviors.

    A severe cocaine addiction can physically alter the brain’s neural and behavioral responses to stress. This alteration can lead to frequent relapses throughout the long recovery process. Using regular exercise to help fight cravings can help alter the mesolimbic dopamine pathways, which is the area most affected by frequent cocaine abuse. Exercise can help reward and reinforce this center of the brain, offering rewards similar to cocaine and other drug abuse.

    Abuse to stimulants like methamphetamine and cocaine are often more difficult to treat. Adding a workout routine to a recovery program for these types of drugs have shown to be effective tools.

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    Recovery from substance abuse is all about making your body and mind healthy again. Feeling better helps you resist urges to do things that are bad for you.

    Exercise is a natural reward for the brain, much like food or sex, exercise helps the brain release endorphins which can make the individual feel good. Substance use can destroy these natural pathways in the brain and replace them with a need to use more of a substance for the user to feel good again. Building up a sweat increases self-confidence and motivation, which are commonly lower in drug addicts and alcoholics. This increase of motivation can help an addict resist cravings and urges to use and replaces it with something good for both the body and mind.

    Start with an exercise regimen that works for you. As many addicts become out of shape, you shouldn’t push your own limits too far.

    Continued, sustained sessions of regular physical activity seem to work the best. An intense workout can give the body a "natural high" which can last up to 48 hours, so it is good to exercise at least 3-5 times a week to help reduce the potential for a relapse. This consistent routine has been shown to sustain resistance to substance cravings for everything from alcohol, nicotine, opioids, marijuana and stimulants.

    If you are seeking treatment for a serious addiction, exercise is just one component of a successful treatment regimen. Many addicts will require a full medical detox as the withdrawal symptoms themselves can require professional medical supervision. Our treatment center offers help throughout every step of the recovery process, from initial detox, inpatient rehabilitation to continued outpatient therapy and relapse prevention.

    If you or a loved one needs help with an addiction, please call us. We are open 24/7 and are always here to help.

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