When you’re struggling with an addiction, it’s usually because you’ve bought into the lie that the next hit or drink will make your life better or easier. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Here are 10 experiences that are better than being high.
By Micah Robbins
When you’re struggling with an addiction, it’s usually because you’ve bought into the lie that the next hit or drink will make your life better or easier. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. When you’re chasing that next high or you’re stoned, drunk or hungover, you’re not improving your life — you’re escaping it. Meanwhile, some of life’s most precious moments may be passing you by.
The beauty of recovery, on the other hand, is waking up to these moments of your life — maybe for the very first time — and discovering there’s so much to experience sober that beats being high any day. Hearing clients share these aha! moments is one of the great joys of my job. Whether big or small, these moments of “Eureka!” pave the way for lasting recovery from drugs or alcohol, both as the motivation to get better and as a strong disincentive to relapse.
On that note, here are 10 experiences (among many) that are better than being high.
Watching a Sunset or Sunrise
You don’t have to be strolling on a beach or perched on a mountaintop to take in nature’s spectacular artwork. Even a view from your front stoop or balcony can be a great opportunity to experience the awe and holiness.
Connecting with a Good Friend Over Coffee
Good friends are one of life’s greatest gifts, but when was the last time you stopped the treadmill of work and other commitments to enjoy the company of someone you care about? Taking a break to rekindle a friendship can feed the soul and enrich your recovery.
Becoming Mindful of the Sound of Your Own Breath
Focusing on the miracle of your own breath is better than getting high any day, as a reminder of the gift of life and the sacredness of being you and only you. Take a few moments out of the day to breathe in deeply and then exhale. Pay attention to how your lungs contract and expand involuntarily without your help. This very simple mindfulness exercise can be a form of slowing down time and living meaningfully in the present.
Taking (and Planning!) a Trip to a Place You’ve Always Wanted to See
Whether it’s to an exotic destination on the other side of the world or the great outdoors one hour away, the process of visiting somewhere new is always worthwhile. A 2010 study in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life found that just planning a trip boosts people’s happiness levels.
Getting Caught in a Rainstorm
Despite a dearth of supporting scientific data on the subject, walking in the rain can be cathartic and exhilarating. Try it sometime — without an umbrella.
Serving a Meal at a Homeless Shelter
There are few things more rewarding and good for you than serving others. The experience of serving a meal at a homeless shelter is only one of several possible ways you can serve others (and reap the far greater benefits for yourself).
Sharing Your Story with Others in Recovery
Twelve-step groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous call this experience, “Carrying the message.” Members have an opportunity to share their stories of recovery as mutual strength and encouragement.
Hearing Your Favorite Band in Concert
Listening to music is good for you. For example, with growing research into the holistic benefits of music, music therapy is now an evidence-based treatment for various disorders. But music is also fun. Got a new favorite band? Go hear them live — and bring some earplugs.
Reading Your Child a Favorite Bedtime Story
Among the many benefits of reading to and with your child is the deeper connection you build. Cuddling in bed with your little one over their favorite bedtime story will be quality time that both of you remember for a lifetime.
Writing a Thank-you Note to Someone You Love
Being intentional about expressing gratitude is itself an experience worth having. Take 10 minutes to jot down a note of thanks addressed to your higher power or to someone in your life for whom you’re grateful.
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 Country Substance Awareness Coalition facilitating teen leadership development and advocating for the recovery community with the Recovery Awareness Partnership.