50 Things to Do Instead of Drinking

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A family of three explores a beach; mom and dad hold onto the hands of their child

Having the urge to pick up a drink again, whether at a family party or after a particularly stressful day, isn’t unheard of. Cravings are troubling, persistent problems in recovery. The good news is that you’ve already recognized your urge to drink alcohol, and you’re looking for a better option to distract yourself with. Whether it be a form of art therapy, something that gets you active, or a fun activity you can do with others, there are plenty of things out there for you to do instead of drinking:

  1. Write a love poem to yourself, celebrating who you are.
  2. Visit a park you’ve never been to and explore the new environment. There are apps that help you identify plants and bird calls whenever you’re curious about your surroundings.
  3. Visit a craft store and pick up a kit to make punch rugs, Shrinky Dinks, decoupage, mosaics, or miniatures. There are plenty of creative, hands-on art projects that can heal your inner child and give you something to admire for years to come.
  4. Pen a few letters to your friends and family, seal them, and put them in mail deposit.
  5. Try an at-home workout routine.
  6. If you hate cardio, you might love yoga. Slow exercise is just as effective for the body and mind. Try some beginner poses to relieve stress and anxiety.
  7. Go to the bookstore and find a new novel to read.
  8. Play a board game with people who make you laugh.
  9. Have no one with you at home? Try some online chess or find online word games to play with other users.
  10. Julienne vegetables.
  11. Buy some box mix and bake something sweet.
  12. Join a basketball league, roller derby team, swim club, or some other team sport that keeps you active and helps you meet people with similar interests.
  13. Learn how to croquet, knit, or embroider. It keeps you in one place until the string runs out.
  14. Watch Julie & Julia and pick one of Julia Child’s recipes to try yourself.
  15. Pull up a famous painting online and draw your own interpretation in a notebook.
  16. If you’re more of a digital artist, Photoshop modern objects into historical photographs.
  17. Plant an herb garden, and if you don’t have a space for one in a yard, make your first project building a planter box. Nothing is more cathartic than hammering nails.
  18. Meditate.
  19. Go to the movie theater or see a play.
  20. Visit an art museum and try to find a new favorite piece of media. Or find a local, eclectic museum about a more niche topic such as textiles, geology, Colonial America, or printmaking.
  21. Learn to play the spoons. There are tutorials on Youtube that show you how you can turn these household items into instruments.
  22. Get out your tackle box and head to the water for a day of fishing.
  23. Memorize a verse from your favorite rapper and let out your feelings through music.
  24. Watch your favorite movie from your childhood and make your favorite dessert to go along with it.
  25. Take a walk and try to find the alphabet in order on license plates and street signs. Once you hit Z or get stuck on Q, go home.
  26. See what free events are going on at your local library.
  27. Book a massage. If you’re nervous about going for the first time, consider a couple’s massage with your partner or friend.
  28. Pick up a basketball and practice three-pointers and lay-ups.
  29. Create a self-care retreat in your home.
  30. Start a sober scrapbook. Celebrate the little things you do every day, print out pictures from your phone, and glue down movie ticket stubs to show yourself that sober fun is just as exciting. It can be rewarding have a visual reminder of all the ways your life has changed for the better.
  31. Sit outside and draw the space around you. If you’re not satisfied with the way it comes out, add an alien invasion–it always makes pictures more exciting.
  32. Find an open mic night to participate in or enjoy from the seats. There are also jazz clubs, improv clubs, and poetry readings at bookstores filled with local artists excited to share their work.
  33. Free write every difficult thought, every pent-up frustration, every anxiety you have on a page. Let it all out and then let it all go.
  34. Blast music and dance your feelings out to your favorite songs.
  35. Look up local places to volunteer, such as soup kitchens and animal shelters.
  36. Commit to a fish. A fish needs clean water, food, an interesting environment, and a loving home, just like you. Lots of species are good for beginner fish owners, and as your skills improve, you can grow your tank.
  37. Join a writing workshop. Whether virtual or in-person, having a community of writers will not only improve your craft, but help you understand yourself further with every piece of writing.
  38. Pick up some colored pencils and an adult coloring book. Just like meditation, coloring books are effective at reducing stress and clearing your mind.
  39. Paint a positive affirmation on a sign to hang up in your room.
  40. Put together a dinner, buy fancy sodas and lemonades, and host some people over for a fun, sober night in.
  41. If you have kids, ask them to plan their dream day out. You’ll probably find yourself playing laser tag, going pumpkin-picking, ice-skating, or going to the playground, but most importantly, you’ll be making memories with your family.
  42. Run some hot water, throw in a bath bomb, and read a book in the tub.
  43. Ask your friends to meet up at the park, bring a soccer ball, and grill some vegetables and chicken on the barbeque for a sober day out.
  44. Create a vision board.
  45. Go to the café and buy yourself a non-alcoholic drink that you love, even if it is a seven dollar matcha latte.
  46. Watch a Youtube compilation of old Vines, cute cats, or news bloopers.
  47. Make your friends personalized music playlists.
  48. Go for a hike. Connecting with nature, whether on a mountainside or near a waterfall, is a surefire way to boost your mood, give you something to appreciate, and stay active.
  49. Rearrange your furniture.
  50. Go to an in-person or online recovery meeting and connect with people who are going through a similar sober journey. Finding community when you have doubts about your strength will give you the tools and support you need to regain your confidence.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, Mountainside can help.
Click here or call (888) 833-4676 to speak with one of our addiction treatment experts.