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Activities You Do While In Drug Rehab

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

January 29, 2019

Whether currently going through rehab or have successfully completed treatment, activities are both beneficial and therapeutic to the process. Taking part in enjoyable activities can be important tools for making a smooth transition from addiction to recovery.

Rehab Requires Work, But What Happens When The Work Is Done?

Going through any kind of treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, assigned work toward rehabilitation will be the most time-consuming and important focus. You need to apply yourself to the steps of a program, “homework” assigned by a therapist, and other set methods pertinent to your particular recovery process. Rehabilitation requires working on concentration while working toward a goal of eventually being free of dependency.

But there will be a time when you do not have assignments to complete or even daily requirements such as going to work or taking care of the kids, etc. These periods of “downtime” can be a productive opportunity to reflect on your progress and on the work still yet to be done. But too much time spent idle can facilitate turning back to drugs or alcohol to fill your time.

These are times when activities can help you redirect and refocus your daily downtime toward productive and healthy endeavors, rather than former destructive behaviors. It can be an opportunity to practice new life skills, take up a hobby, or learn something new.

Activities While Undergoing Inpatient Treatment At A Facility

Life in a rehabilitation facility generally involves a pretty regimented routine. Living according to a structured schedule is beneficial in that it breeds effectiveness and takes the guesswork out of the rehabilitation process.

A lot of what you go through during inpatient therapy involves education. There will be regularly scheduled sessions of group discussion, one-on-one dialogue with a therapist, and lectures on how to work through a rehabilitation process.

You will have a lot of specific duties that can include therapy-specific assignments both with someone else or to be completed on your own. Even things like being required to organize your living quarters, share in the task of cooking meals, cleaning or other housekeeping duties, or even playing a game of Tetris.

Then there will be leisure or entertainment activities scheduled by the facility that you will be expected to attend or take part in. It could be physical training or exercise, field trips, films or music, or a variety of other events intended to provide relief and relaxation in a protected setting.

All this will generally allow very little free time in which you’d find yourself trying to come up with things to do. And there may be limits to what you would be allowed to do, with oversight to ensure they don’t interfere or jeopardize the rehabilitation process.

Still, there will probably be the opportunity for things like:

  • Reading – Whether enjoying your favorite fiction authors or studying reference materials or learning from textbooks, reading can facilitate both educating yourself and relaxation.
  • Crafts and hobbies – Most crafts or hobbies require great focus. Things such as knitting require following patterns and keeping track by counting or marking off stitches on paper. Building models whether plastic kits or wooden scale-model ships involve close attention to detail. This can aid in teaching yourself to focus on a project and direct your attention.
  • Art – Art is often used as a therapeutic tool in the process itself. So things such as painting, drawing, and sculpting can not only occupy your mind and hands but also aid the process even while you relax.
  • Music – As with art, performing or writing music can be a way to both passing time and work indirectly on your therapy.
  • Writing – Whether writing song lyrics, poetry, essays or even working on a novel, writing can be a cathartic way to work through your experiences and thoughts in a healing way.
  • Martial Arts – More relaxing types of martial arts such as Tai Chi can serve to both focus energy and work on your physical condition.

Any activities you wish to take part in while in an inpatient facility would need to be cleared by the counselors and staff first. You can work with them to figure out what is allowed or even encouraged.

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Outpatient And Post-Therapy Activity Suggestions

Due to the less restrictive nature of going through therapy without the umbrella of a facility, it is almost more important to be sure you have plenty of beneficial activities to occupy your time. Boredom is dangerous. Whether still working on achieving recovery or in a maintenance mode, you need to keep busy.

You should avoid spending too much time involved in non-productive activities such as video games, that can keep you sitting in one place too long. If you spend too much time in such pursuits, you may find yourself backsliding physically, which can lead to discomfort and potentially harmful laziness.

Similarly, spending too much time with things such as internet gaming or chatting can lead toward too much opportunity for backsliding. Your hands are generally free and the internet is rife with bad influences. It is best to limit the amount of time you spend and the types of websites you investigate online.

All the activities mentioned as being feasible while undergoing inpatient therapy at a facility are applicable to outpatient therapy and post-therapy maintenance. Some additional possibilities include:

  • Accompanying or continuing therapy through other means – This can be things such as going to group meetings related to your addiction. Join AA, NA, or other support groups.
  • Exercise – Addiction takes a physical toll. Help your body find new ways to improve your brain chemistry through a helpful, non-harmful way. Improving yourself physically can also improve your self-image. This can simply be walking the dog, joining a sports team, swimming at a community pool, or many other ways to get moving. Yoga combines both a great physical workout with a meditative mindset that can be very beneficial. Whatever the activity, getting physical helps the body expel toxins, which can help with weaning off a substance and improve the way you feel overall.
  • Education – Going through the recovery process is all about learning a new way of life. What better time to learn in general? Take a class offered at a local college. Go to community adult education classes in everything from dancing, to pottery, to photography, to cooking. Study a new language. There’s a wealth of things to discover and learn, the possibilities are nearly endless.
  • Volunteer – Often a part of the recovery process is learning both to apologize, forgive and ask forgiveness. Volunteering can be a great way to feel better about yourself while benefiting someone else. You can get involved with youth groups, spend time with the elderly, help with homeless pet adoptions, and be a guide at a museum or zoo.
  • Go to work – Many people see work as necessary if unwelcome imposition in life. But there is a lot to say about the benefits of a structured day, particularly for those who find that structure aids in the recovery process. Hopefully, you can find work doing something you love or something that may be less interesting, but a satisfying challenge.

Prove To Yourself You Are Ready, Willing And Able

Going through the necessary steps of rehabilitation and recovery are just part of the process of becoming free of substance abuse. You also need to redirect your focus in life and fill your day with productive, healthy and positive activities and interactions. Contact us at so we can help you find out things you can do to ensure your life without dependency is enjoyable and fulfilling.

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