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Fun is not frivolous

I worked with a client yesterday who said that the best moment of his life was the first time he smoked weed. He had never felt so much joy, so much connection, so much possibility. In no time cannabis had infiltrated all aspects of his life. It made everything so much more... fun...

Fun is critical. Fun is vital. Fun is a human need. Kids know how to have fun, until we demand they sit still and shut up. Humans are born creatively inclined. We explore, try new things, make up games, delight in nature, and all without being taught how to do it. We do it because it's fun. From casinos to night clubs, from music festivals to backyard bbq's, so much adult fun is infused with substance use. But what happens when the fun turns on you? For people in recovery, or sober curious, what can fun look like?

I been a recovery coach for more than 10 years. One of the first things I ask folks is what they do for fun. People realize, universally to their horror, that they don't know fun without their substance of choice. Often, even then, they haven't had fun with that substance for a long long time. They are depressed, anxious, lethargic, impulsive... not feeling a lot of fun in their lives. After a long pause, many reflect that they can't remember the last time they had a good belly laugh. The anxiety of changing their substance use behavior apexes in moments of free time or fun time (ie: the weekend). What do people do who don't drink or smoke? Is a life of recovery a sad boring slog towards endless responsibility?

Fun is not frivolous. Fun creates connection and opportunities for presence. Intuitively we know this. This is not a moral declaration about substances or how you create fun in your life. Perhaps an evening out at the casino or the bar is perfect for you. But for those with dependency issues, fun will take some more time and effort. The brain's reward system is dulled due to the over-activity during active substance use. The brain needs to rewire and heal when we set down our addictions. That said, creating fun that doesn't revolve around addictive behavior or substances is exciting!

When was the last time you had fun making a mess? Have you let yourself laugh recently? What did you love to do as a kid- paint, draw, play in the mud? Let yourself explore again. Try going for a drive not knowing where you'll end up. Give yourself permission to break up your routine. Call a friend you haven't talked to in a while. What else is possible? We are all needing some more fun these days, so have fun coming up with a list of things to do and make a plan to do them!

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