In our previous article, we discussed how summertime nostalgia, parties, and the fear of missing out can be the formula for disaster in early recovery. We explained how relapse is a process and also a choice. At the apex of temptation, there is only one thing to do, say no. Saying no can feel challenging in the early months of sobriety, especially when it is summertime. Not drinking or recreationally using drugs doesn’t mean you can’t still rage this summer. Here, we will discuss how to party sober and have a good time.
Drugs and alcohol stimulate the production of a brain chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a brain chemical which acts as a messenger and sends messages throughout the brain. Specifically, dopamine sends messages of pleasure. When dopamine interacts with areas of the brain like the nucleus acumen, the reward center of the brain, the brain makes a concrete association: drugs and alcohol feel good. Drugs and alcohol are rewarding. From then on, anything which triggers the brain to crave pleasure triggers craving for drugs and alcohol. Eventually, the very idea of pleasure in the brain is only associated with mind altering substances. As increasing amounts of substances are taken, the brain’s ability to produce dopamine weakens. What once caused pleasure now only causes pain. The association, however, is still programmed into the brain.
Newly sober men are depleted in their dopamine. While the brain adjusts to normal amounts of dopamine production, it is common for men to feel symptoms of depression which can include a hopeless despair that life will never be fun again and nothing will ever feel as good as drugs. One of the focuses of treatment and early recovery is reprogramming the brain by teaching it how to have fun again. Partying sober is just one of them.
You may be surprised by how much more clear music sounds to you now. At a music festival or a party, you’ll find that mindfulness training has brought you more into the present moment, which feels like an even greater high than your substances of choice. Having learned to shake your inhibitions and abolish shame, you have less issue talking to people, playing games, busting a move on a dance floor, or planning a group outing.
Sobriety isn’t the end of fun. Sobriety is the beginning of a brand new life, one completely free from the grips of addiction.
At Tree House Recovery in Orange County, California we are helping men discover life without limitations through innovative treatment and adventurous recovery from addiction. For information on our treatment programs, call to speak with one of our graduates: (855) 202-2138