Things to Do Instead of Drinking

Looking for New Things to Do Instead of Drinking?

When you get sober and pursue a life in recovery, you’ll notice there seem to be many more hours in the day. The time you once allocated to finding, using and recovering from alcohol will now be freed up for other activities. At first, you may feel as though you’re at a loss for how to manage your stress levels, pass the time or address your anxiety without substance use. Here are a few ideas for things to do instead of drinking.


If You’re Stressed

Many find themselves turning to beer, wine or liquor as a result of stress. If you have been through an addiction treatment program, you understand how harmful that cause and effect relationship can be. Whether you’ve had a tough conversation with a loved one or a difficult day at the office, it’s important to channel any resulting tension into a productive outlet.

If you’re in need of healthy, stress-relieving activities, try to:


Regular physical activity is among the best things to do instead of drinking. It benefits your physical and mental health, and the endorphins associated with exercise can actually produce a healthy, all-natural “high.” Research shows that vigorous activity reduces cravings, restores damaged brain cells, reduces anxiety and promotes better sleep.

Make Art

You don’t have to be a master painter to benefit from a creative outlet! Painting, sketching, writing or playing an instrument can all be great ways to channel your stressors into constructive action. 

Go on a Long Walk

Sometimes you just need to clear your head. Try practicing a walking meditation the next time you take a hike (or even just walk around the block).

Talk It Out

A friend, counselor or sponsor can be a great aid in times of trouble. Venting to someone you trust is cathartic, but it also encourages you to come up with a plan of action. Whether you’re seeking therapeutic aid or working through a tough situation with a loved one, consider expressing your stress instead of holding it in.


If You’re Bored

Addiction takes up a lot of your mental bandwidth. The time slots that were filled up by buying alcohol, drinking or nursing a hangover are now vacant. It’s important to find rewarding activities that make your new life in recovery exciting and fun. If you’re looking for things to do instead of drinking, consider the following.

Start Pursuing a New Hobby

Many people may be hesitant to try out a new hobby; they may worry about time commitment, start-up costs, materials or a high difficulty level. Here are some easily accessible hobbies that you can try out at home today:

  • Learning to cook
  • Practicing meditation
  • Trying out a computer program (like Photoshop or Illustrator)
  • Learning to code
  • Gardening
  • Fostering animals
  • Budgeting
  • Learning a new language
  • Making vision boards
  • Photography
  • Journaling
  • Calligraphy

Take a Class

Looking for a more structured approach to your free time? Try broadening your horizons with a new course. Whether you enroll in cooking lessons or a night class, the excitement of learning something new can be a regular part of your week.


Each person in recovery knows the 12th Step of Alcoholics Anonymous – “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” This attitude of service is integral to lasting sobriety. If you’re not ready to serve as a sponsor, consider taking advantage of another type of volunteer opportunity with local area nonprofits.

 Visit a New Place

Sometimes it’s just nice to get out of town. Now that pandemic restrictions have lifted, you’re free to travel throughout the state of Tennessee and beyond! Take a day trip to Chattanooga, camp in the wilderness or visit local landmarks.


If You’re Anxious

Finally, there’s a strong comorbidity between substance use and anxiety disorders. Those who have anxiety are more likely to attempt self-medication with alcohol, and unfortunately, substance use can actually make anxiety worse. This results in a vicious cycle of worry and intoxication that many people struggle to get out of. If you’re feeling anxious, here are some things to do instead of drinking.

Check the Facts

Anxiety can kick your “what-if’s” into overdrive. Instead of getting stuck on the worst-case scenario, practice looking more closely at your worries. Are they realistic at all? Do you really know what the other person is thinking, or how your presentation will go? Checking the facts is a great way to put your nervous thoughts back into perspective.

Do a Breathing Exercise

Deep breaths are a proven way to calm the body’s stress responses and ease racing thoughts. Try square breathing – breathe in for four counts, hold for four, out for four, hold for four.

Distract Yourself

Pace around the room, get out of the house, watch a funny video, tidy up or knock out a task. Occupying your brain with something else can be a helpful approach to combatting anxiety.

Focus on the Now

Anxiety is inherently future-oriented. You may find yourself occupied by what could happen. Instead, try to bring yourself back into the present moment through grounding exercises. Techniques that fit this category include:

  • Rinsing your face in the sink
  • Enjoying a snack
  • Moving your body
  • Listening attentively to your surroundings


There are Plenty of Things to Do Instead of Drinking!

Cumberland Heights has been helping Tennesseans to recover from alcoholism since 1966. In that time, we’ve found a wide array of enjoyable, exciting activities that can replace the role of alcohol in your life. If you are interested in our alumni events, aftercare support services or other offerings, please contact the Cumberland Heights admissions team.