Sober Recreational Activities
Gooden Cente encourages all patients to participate in a variety of sober recreational activities that we provide which are designed to promote the recovery process by improving our patients’ mental, physical and spiritual health. Remaining active, socializing with others and setting fitness goals facilitate the recovery process by helping patients discover how much better they feel when drug or alcohol free as well as allowing them to experience the benefits of sober living for men.
In addition to abusing their bodies with dangerous substances, addicts further exacerbate their health by not exercising or eating healthy foods. Addicts will utilize all the energy they have to obtain the drug of their choice and neglect everything and everyone else in the process. Consequently, lack of exercise and a diet high in sugar and empty calories significantly contribute to the debilitation of the immune system and an addict’s propensity towards suffering colds, the flu, hepatitis and other illnesses.
Researchers are consistently discovering that exercise not only helps to maintain weight but also benefits the mind and body in a number of ways that cannot be accomplished by simply eating the right foods. For example, exercising encourages the release of endorphins which are produced in the brain and are responsible for inhibiting the perception of pain as well as improving the functioning of the immune system. Neurotransmitter levels also rise in the brain during exercise, especially serotonin and norapinephrine, two major brain chemicals that help regulate mood, sleep and appetite. Since nearly all addicts suffer from depression and anxiety, exercising provides a natural remedy for these two common mental issues and also contributes to the overall health of the body.
The Benefits of Ecotherapy
Hiking or camping in the woods is a form of “earth-centered” ecotherapy that Gooden Cente strongly urges recovering patients to participate in either individually or with a small group of peers. Research into the natural palliative powers of nature has clearly shown that communing with nature offers wonderfully regenerative properties that can alleviate depression, stress and anxiety. In Japan, ecotherapy is called “Shinrin-yoku” (literally meaning “forest bathing) and asserts that subjects in various studies have experienced reduced pulse rates, lower blood pressure and an enduring sense of peacefulness by listening to flowing streams, smelling the odor trees and plants and viewing forest scenery.
At Gooden Cente, we encourage patients to partake in group sports activities such as bowling, volleyball and golf to get exercise and enjoy the pleasures of socializing and learning how to cope with different situations without resorting to alcohol or drugs. Participating with peers in a group sport allows patients to improve their ability to “play well” with others, find ways to rationally and calmly solve problems that may arise during the course of the activity and also use the time to engage in a kind of non-clinical “talk” therapy with friends who share the same experiences and goals. In addition to exercising, talking about concerns and verbalizing any thoughts that come to mind with trusted friends is a great way to improve all aspects of one’s physical and mental health.
Additional benefits of group activities include improvements in social anxiety and inappropriate social behavior; increased ability to trust and learn from others; enhancement of time management skills and, most importantly, experiencing an tremendous improvement in physical and mental health conditions.
Painting, writing, drawing, music and crafts are other sober recreational activities emphasized at Gooden Cente. Many patients find that as they experience life without the painfully distorting and cognitively numbing effects of addictive substances that the pleasant urge to express their creative side emerges in the form of painting, writing poetry, assembling scrapbooks or making wood crafts. Self-expression can help patients understand more about themselves and also facilitate self-discovery while lifting depression and increasing self-esteem.