If you’re in recovery, dating might not be on your radar, but it shouldn’t keep you from enjoying quality time. Check out some “friending” options instead.
Recovering from drug or alcohol abuse is similar to recovering from any illness. You may have felt isolated, lonely, sick, and depressed during the rehabilitation process. It can take a toll physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Having been through the worst, you deserve a bit of fun.
Getting back into the dating and relationship scene, though, can present tough choices, a string of emotions and unique situations that you may have avoided during recovery. The intensity and challenges of dating may not be the best fit for maintaining a healthy, sober environment for you, or your new partner… yet! But strong friendships? Those are just what you need to get through your recovery process.
Of course, knowing which activities will support the fragility of recovery as well as provide plenty of amusement is an important part of navigating life after addiction. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of activities that won’t dangle temptation in front of you but will provide tons of entertainment.
- Try a coffee cupping. Is there a gourmet coffee shop in your town? Check and see if they offer coffee tastings. Different grinds and beans offer different nuances and flavors ranging from bitter and nutty to sweet and chocolaty. If you’ve never explored the world of coffee—dark, blonde, medium and all roasts in between—you’re in for a treat! Plus, you can indulge in all of your favorite coffee dunkers, be they biscotti, biscuit, or cro-nut. Get to know the different tastes while getting to know your friends, and learn a few tidbits to blow away your buddies next time you are at the ‘Bux.
- Go bowling. Release your inner Lebowski! Head to the nearest bowling alley for a few frames with your crew—a great way to get you laughing, active and in the vicinity of an air hockey table. You can even get the bumpers if you know you aren’t exactly destined for bowling greatness—remember that rolling a bumper 160 is still a 160.
- Play laser tag. You may be surprised at just how much fun an adult can have playing laser tag. Running around in a neon and very dark environment with a pal can make for an exciting and exercise-filled evening.
- Head to the game. Rooting for your favorite team is fun no matter who tags along. Head to a local baseball team’s game, grab tickets for a college team, or head to the big stadium for a pro game. Whether it’s football, baseball, basketball or hockey, watching the back and forth while scarfing down hot dogs and nachos is a wonderful way to spend an afternoon or evening.
- Go ice- or roller-skating. Got a skating rink nearby? Frozen pond? Roller-Rama? Head over and show off your skills (or even lack thereof). Taking a few spins around the rink is a great way to loosen up and have a few laughs with friends on a group outing. See who can go the longest without falling or who can do the most impressive trick, or combine the two and see who can wipe out the best! You will be cheered like rock stars, and who doesn’t like the requisite cup of hot cocoa at the end?
- Take a hike. If you’re near a national park, mountains or a forest, grab a friend or a few and head out for a hike. The air is cool and fresh in the morning, and by lunch time you’ll be ready to sit and dine al fresco among the flora and fauna. Identify trees, flowers and observe/flee from wildlife as you trek through—choose trails that aren’t too strenuous and offer views like waterfalls and rock formations. The quietness of nature will help you be at ease and appreciate the surrounding beauty.
- Take a cooking class. French, Italian, Spanish—you can travel the world in a few hours by heading to a cooking class! Not only is combining delicious ingredients hands-on, it’s also a great way to get to know your friends better. You’ll bring home skills to show off again and again, and you’ll get to eat whatever you’ve created!
- Go on a ghost tour. Are you a fan of shows like Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters, Dead Files, A Haunting and all things spooky? A ghost tour is a great way to get a group of friends to have fun and get a little freaked out! If you live in a historic town (St. Augustine, Savannah, Princeton, Richmond, D.C., Dubuque), chances are, you’ll find a ghost tour. Tours can range anywhere from $10-$25 per person for about an hour to two hours of walking at night (or free if you unleash your inner Scooby -Doo and check out the old abandoned mill with your meddling friends). Some cities even offer haunted trolley rides, haunted bike rides and more.
- See a ballet. Unlike heading out to see a concert, which can prove to be awash in alcohol, head to a quiet play or classic ballet. Seeing great art performed—like Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake or The Nutcracker around Christmas—is inspiring, relaxing and enjoyable. It can even be free on dress rehearsal or preview nights! Plus, if you’re a bit nervous, such an event doesn’t allow for too much talking, just a quiet appreciation for the art of dance.
- Go on a gallery crawl. Pub crawls are so 2015 (not to mention dangerous), so why not cruise around town checking out all of your local art galleries? Not only can you explore all things abstract, impressionist and landscape, you may even find a piece of art you’d like to invest in and buy for your own wall. As your friending life develops, this could just be a practice run for a future date. Exploring art can also give a window into their likes and dislikes, leading to interesting conversation. Not to mention galleries usually have crackers and cheese—win win!
While addiction, recovery, and rehabilitation are difficult, simple pleasures like meeting new people and enjoying your town without the looming presence of your drug of choice can brighten even the most difficult days. Explore your surroundings with a new friend at your side. Get friending!
About the Author
Micah Robbins is a community substance use prevention leader and recovery and treatment advocate and proud part of the Beach House Center for Recovery team. His 23 years of experience in the field has seen him help several projects and organizations from Maine to South Florida. You will see him in the community with the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition facilitating teen leadership development and advocating for the recovery community with the Recovery Awareness Partnership.