Important Characteristics of Sobriety: Having Fun

Posted on July 12th, 2012

Fifth in a Series: Having Fun in Sobriety

We often focus on the problem of addiction more than the results of a successful recovery. True sobriety is a wonderful transformation that showcases the beauty of humanity. However, the challenge of achieving long-term sobriety can seem unattainable to those who suffer from addiction. Addiction is a masterful enemy; one that is cunning, baffling, and all-powerful. One who seduces those affected by instilling in them denial of the problem or pessimism about overcoming it. Addiction wants to isolate and control its victims, leading them to push away those who love them, hide addictive behaviors, and, often, die trying to protect the addiction.

How many achieve victory over addiction? I don’t think anyone truly knows how for each individual specifically. Most of us know people who have either died as a result of addiction, those who are still suffering, and those who are working through a rigorous, wonderful recovery program. This blog series will focus on the third group or for those who want in on the third group.

When people think about getting sober one of their biggest fears is: Can I ever have fun again? Most people think sobriety is boring and no fun! Well, the newly-sober person needs to put his or her view into perspective. Yes, being sober won’t involve death-defying police chases or risky actions that can really hurt them or those around them. The definition of fun changes; the longer people stay sober, the more deep and enriching their joys becomes!

As we get sober we often have these “ah ha” moments. Here is mine: When I was a few months sober and living in a halfway house, one of the program counselors was getting married. This was in Thibodaux, Louisiana, and the counselor was sober while his bride and all the locals were mostly drinking. My peers and I were sharing a video camera to film the reception. When it was my turn, I felt comfortable behind the camera and didn’t want to let anyone else use it. This was because I was nervous being in a social setting and not drinking. Later, during the reception, all the guys in the program were asked to go up and sing with the band. We sang the song “Proud Mary” and it was not very good, but I realized the crowd didn’t care and I had a blast! This was an eye opening experience for me. We repeated this at a few other sober weddings in the future and I truly learned the lesson of letting go of my fears and defenses—that it is okay to be silly and vulnerable, to have fun. This was a major breakthrough in my long-term sobriety.

If someone gets sober and doesn’t learn to relax and have fun, their chances of long-term sobriety are very limited. We must insist on learning to have fun. It can be a matter of life or death for some. I think this is a very critical component of recovery, along with developing a deep spiritual connection, and working the steps.

Why are addicts and alcoholics afraid to let go and have fun? We had to ingest serious amounts of drugs or alcohol to let go of our fears and insecurities. The more we used, the more fear we would have before getting high to relax. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy that the need only gets worse the longer we use. The fear of being vulnerable that patients experience in the early stages of sobriety is so intense that some can’t get past it. Working the Twelve Steps helps to reduce the fear by creating a fellowship of others in recovery, which can also help teach what the “new fun” looks like. The beauty of recovery is that, if you reach out enough, you will find others who have the same interests as you, and often even the same sense of humor…but it takes reaching out.

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