General Question

wildpotato's avatar

What do sober people - and in particular, the newly sober - do for fun?

Asked by wildpotato (13491 points ) January 25th, 2012

Stupid question, I know – sober people pretty much do what people who partake do for fun, just without drugs and alcohol. But in practice, this seems a bit harder than “just do the same stuff you’d do anyway.” The story is, one of my best friends recently decided to try a sober stint, for a number of reasons. I support him and see no reason why this should interfere with our friendship (it’s not a situation where he feels he needs to cut all ties with people he used to use with, thankfully).

But…this particular friend doesn’t do outdoorsy stuff, so right off the bat that eliminates most of the non-drinking-and-smoking-pot-related things I’d typically choose to do. He’s also not that into museums or movies, and going to shows or clubs or comedy clubs together is kinda out since I’m not willing to be sober for those particular activities myself. I can’t believe how difficult this has been – I want to hang out with the dude more, but all he does now is play video games in his spare time, because he can’t think of anything to do either. And we live in NYC! There must be options I’m not thinking of. I’ve asked other sober folks I know what they do for fun, and explain that my friend and I can’t work it out – they invariably reply with some form of “When you guys figure it out, let me know.”

What have you folks out there who have become sober done in the period immediately following your “detox point” or whatever it’s called, when you’re rattling around at loose ends, not sure what to do with your time? If you let yourself spend time with your old friends who still use, what did you do together? If you didn’t, I’m absolutely still interested in your answer to my first question.

Edit: I’m also interested in what you folks who’ve never not been sober do for fun – I’m sure there’s some overlap here, too.

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29 Answers

6rant6's avatar

Maybe just nudge him off center instead of trying to transplant him?

You could try other games. Board games, IRP, poker…

We play Apples to Apples sometimes at parties because it’s something that people can play very seriously or not seriously at all and still enjoy sitting next to one another.

FutureMemory's avatar

Honestly I think you need to be a little more flexible.

going to shows or clubs or comedy clubs together is kinda out since I’m not willing to be sober for those particular activities myself

^^That’s not a good attitude to have.

marinelife's avatar

Go to coffee shops and drink coffee and talk.

Play board games.

wildpotato's avatar

@FutureMemory I should clarify: we tried doing these things together, and he told me to I order what I would normally order. Actually he didn’t tell me he was sober now until I’d already ordered my beer. At any rate I took him at his word that he would be ok with it, but after awhile I began to feel like he was not so ok with me being tipsy and him not. So the way I envision future possible events where drinking is normally heavily incorporated is each of us feeling uncomfortable about the other’s abstinence or lack of.

Esedess's avatar

@FutureMemory What made you feel he wasn’t ok with you being tipsy when he wasn’t? Is it a matter of temptation for him if you drink around him? Or is it a matter of him thinking lesser of you because you’re drinking?

Blackberry's avatar

I drink, but when I’m tired of drinking, I play video games and go hiking.

FutureMemory's avatar

@Esedess I think you meant to direct your post at @wildpotato ..?

@wildpotato Gotcha. Yeah he needs to be a little tolerant as well.

wildpotato's avatar

@Esedess Welcome to Fluther! You meant to put my name after your @ symbol, I think.

No, he would never think less of me for something like that. I think it was the temptation factor.

EverRose11's avatar

Well he seems to be sort of stuck, I can relate because I have a daughter that stayed away from all activities she did when she was doing drugs, so yeah she became home bond for a spell.. You should think of some new fun things to do… someone mentioned coffee cafe’s that’s a start, doing dinner together once a week or so. Has he done any AA meetings? They can be a real social scene esp. in NYC. Anyway Kudos to you for sticking by your buddy, and know sitting and being stuck is not easy for him also…so lure him out little by little but keep the environments a safe zone where drinking is something he is not tempted by .

deni's avatar

I’ll tell you what I don’t like doing when I’m high, and therefore what I would do if I stopped smoking and/or drinking: read, knit, stay in touch with family and friends wayyyy better, play board games, watch a movie thats funny enough where I don’t have to be high to laugh, EXERCISE (one of the best ways to take up sober time), cook, bake….

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Explore hobbies, make new friends, enjoy sleep, food and exercise to keep the pudge away.

SpatzieLover's avatar

It sounds to me as he slow to transition into living a sober life. You didn’t say above how much he wasn’t sober in the past. My best guess is that most of what he was doing was done while he was intoxicated. He may not know the next step to take.

I agree many of the above answerers. Board games, just plain hanging out, going out to lunch or dinner, out for a coffee or to a bookstore, may be the first step to take with him in his new endeavor.

Esedess's avatar

@FutureMemory Yep! Haha~ You’re right. Good call. Thank you!

@wildpotato Thanks for the welcome.
Ok, I think I understand now. If he isn’t comfortable with you drinking around him, because of temptations contrary to his choice, then that’s fine on his part. However, that does make things more difficult in terms of finding a middle ground for you. If he didn’t have a reason, let alone a legitimate reason, for you not drinking, I would just say screw it… do what you usually do. You can still drink and he can do his thing. But that’s not the case now is it…

I think the solution will have to be him becoming more adventurous. If he’s willing to make a drastic change to his life, in dedicated sobriety, he will inevitably have to find himself activities that match such a lifestyle. That’s the thing with drinking and especially being high… they ARE “activities” that allow you to more easily sit around doing nothing, because it adds a sense of activity to doing nothing (or close to nothing). When I’m out actually doing things, I have no need for that additional stimuli because whatever activity I’m engulfed in is enough. But, when I’m just sitting or standing around at a party/bar/concert/club/etc… I do want that extra kick. It’s just how it is. Call it social conditioning. Call it wrong or unnecessary… But that’s how it is for some people (a lot of people).

I’m not sure what his exact reasons are for this sober stint, but I can imagine, to some degree, he felt like he was wasting his life in a haze. However, in that, his decision to be sober is only half the correction he’s looking for. If he doesn’t go out and partake in activities stimulating in their own right, then he’s still just wasting his life away sitting inside as if he were drunk or high. If the only activities he wants to partake in are those where he would previously have been intoxicated for, then he hasn’t realized the true intents or enjoyment of his own sobriety. At the very least, he can’t continue to wish you won’t inadvertently tempt him, in situations specifically designed around drinking, if he’s not willing to put forth the effort to meet you in situations that aren’t.

Make him go golfing with you. It doesn’t really matter if either of you are good at, or like, golfing. Don’t go with that expectation in mind. Go with the notion that golfing is just one of those activities, like drinking, where you’re doing something more physically/mentally stimulating while essentially just standing around hanging out. You don’t have to be good. You don’t have to care about your score. You don’t even have to play by the rules. Just hangout and loosely play the game. Get a golf cart and make it 75% of the game/fun.

Charles's avatar

It depends on what they “have” to do (school, job, family, working out, errands, fixing the car, etc), how much time and money they have, and what their interests are.
Some suggestions for fun:

Working out
Playing basketball
Going to the beach
Bike riding
Reading
Visiting a library
Goofing off on the Internet (Fluther, etc)
Gardening

YARNLADY's avatar

Volunteer at the local food bank or do visitations at a nearby nursing home.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Bowling, coffee shops, board games, card games, watch movies at home, go to a park and talk… Mostly, you just find various places to talk.

lloydbird's avatar

Drunken people watching.

They’re so funny!

Judi's avatar

When my husband first got sober his social life was surrounded with AA. As he progressed and wanted to work on relationships he took up golf to be with his dad.
When we got together our social life revolved around church. Then he got obsessed with scuba and we were traveling all over the world diving.
Then the financial crisis hit and we decided that we didn’t need to spend so much money and could travel all over America. We even took up camping and 4 wheeling so it would cost less and we could access places most people never see.
In short, he replaced his obsession with drugs and alcohol with healthier obcessions. (about 25 years sober now. )

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
snowberry's avatar

Tell him to consider taking up a hobby. There are tons out there- from origami, to making models, to container gardening (suitable for gardening in an apartment. I have many hobbies, but one of my favorites is storytelling. There are storytelling events all over the country, and in just about every state.Here are two. http://themoth.org/
http://www.storytelling-nyc.org/page2/page2.html

SuperMouse's avatar

I am not newly sober, but I am sober and I do many of the things suggested above. I also spend time Fluthering, writing, reading, biking, walking, window shopping, clipping coupons, cooking, socializing, doing research, taking classes,etc. Things that are really much more fun and more fulfilling when done without a buzz. If this fellow’s comfort zone was the inside of a beer bottle, he is going to have to get out of it but quick and broaden his horizons.

Might I add that a) you are a good friend indeed for wanting to stick with him and b) take him at his word that it is alright if you indulge in front of him. I quit drinking four years ago and even in the beginning I wasn’t bothered or tempted by the drinking of others. Nowadays I just look on with amusement and drink free tonic water as the less responsible among my drinking friends themselves into oblivion.

zenvelo's avatar

One of the things about AA is that it is also a fellowship of sober people. AA folks go out golfing, hiking, out to dinner, dancing, to the movies, take cruises, go to ball games, date, have sex. The only difference is they don’t drink when they do.

It is hard for newly sober to be around drinking people or in drinking situations without some kind of planning before hand. Newly sober alcoholics are generally advised to not go to “slippery” places without either a sober friend or a way to leave on their own. And, they also learn to be able to say “no”.

rooeytoo's avatar

@zenvelo has the key for your friend, an AA group and sponsor is a very helpful and powerful aid to newly sober. I don’t know what to tell you, my experience is completely different than @SuperMouse from the moment I became sober I found the company of drinkers to be not good. Not only was it a temptation for me to imbibe but at the same time I hated the inanity of people who were drinking.

But to go back to your original question, what did your friend do before he stopped drinking? I am assuming he did not drink constantly, if so his activities then could be the same now.

As for non drinking things to do, we play competitive team trivia. We go to basketball/cricket/footy games. We walk our dogs. We eat out. We do normal everyday stuff, we just do it sober and remember it all the next day!

MollyMcGuire's avatar

I don’t drink or do drugs, I never have. I don’t seem to have a hard time staying busy and having fun. Work is a big part of my life. I like to read and play on the internet. We like to play board games too. We eat at restaurants, take walks, ride bikes, watch movies, go to ballgames, go to theatre, go to concerts, and every now and then hit the casino. We do not go to clubs. I did when I was single because I love to dance. I like to refinish old furniture too. I’m also active in my Church. It’s a sad commentary that some young people live such limited lives. You guys should be so busy that you can hardly find time to sleep. Get up and get moving. Throw the video games away!

sober14days's avatar

Sober sucks, I am newly sober too and I can’t think of a damn thing to do to keep my focus off of drinking or getting high. I’m trying so hard. I’ve been chemically dependent ever since I was 11 and now I am 32. Drinking and getting high were the “SOCIAL” things to do for fun.

Jeruba's avatar

Go to meetings. Get phone numbers.
Go out for coffee after meetings with members of the group.
Socialize with people you meet at meetings, especially long-term “winners.”

Take classes in something that interests you, or at least that you think you could possibly get interested in. Try to hold your mind open to new interests.
Start a building or crafts project.
Do volunteer activities.

Avoid entertainments that are, for you, all locked up with drinking.

I’ve never had to get sober, but I’ve seen people do it. For some (many), AA is the answer, but not for everyone. There are other programs. And some make it with no program, though they’re rare. The key in all cases is change. You have to focus on making the necessary changes in yourself. Steps, literature, and meetings help with that, and lead the way to a very full life without addictive substances, and a life that you can be more present for than you ever were before.

It’s very hard when you never got beyond childhood before you lost your way. You don’t have an adult self and a whole life to return to. But there’s your blank slate, and a world of choice to fill it with, something beyond entertainment, which is in the end an empty cup.

zenvelo's avatar

@sober14days It gets better. I was 30 when I got sober; I started drinking when I was 12. Go do something outside that will get you fresh air and sunshine, go to a meeting, have a cup of coffee and go to a movie. One day at a time, just one day at a time. Talk to someone else that is sober and tell them you are having a rough time.

rooeytoo's avatar

Somedays, it is one minute at a time! Good advice above. And most important, don’t give up if the first couple of meetings you attend don’t feel quite right, keep going until you find one that fits, it is worth it in the long run.

fredTOG's avatar

life for you my friend is over.

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