Expand Positive Recreation Opportunities

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Introductory Paragraph

Positive recreational activity serves both to benefit mental health and to protect against substance use. Finding positive leisure and recreation activities promotes healing and reduces mental health and substance use stressors. Engaging in positive recreation activities reinforces positive health and social well-being.

Key Information

Finding enjoyable activities that don't involve substance use is an important part of recovery and plays a role in relapse prevention. Positive recreation reinforces social and community supports that enhance recovery. Recreation in recovery contributes to positive self-esteem and to reduction in stress. Such newly defined activities promote a foundation of change and longevity in sobriety. Leisurely activities and recreation include fitness, recreational therapies, social and community activities, and hobbies.

By the time an individual enters addiction treatment, their leisure and social activities most likely revolve entirely around alcohol and drug use. People recovering from drug and alcohol abuse must learn how to manage stress and have fun in new ways. Finding leisure activities they enjoy can provide them with a constructive use of their free time. Recreational activities are also an excellent tool for teaching individuals how to achieve goals, solve problems, socialize while sober, and handle stressful situations without the use of drugs or alcohol.[1]

Relevant Research

National Study in Denmark -- One article titled "Associations Between Multiple Leisure Activities, Mental Health and Substance Use Among Adolescents in Denmark: A Nationwide Cross-Sectional Study," based upon a sample of 2488 youth, indicates that engaging in multiple activity types at least once a week (as compared to one single type of activity) is associated with increased odds for high mental well-being, reduced odds for mental health problems, and for reduced odds for overall substance use. [2]

South African Study -- An article titled "The Dynamic Association between Healthy Leisure and Substance Use in South African Adolescents: A State and Trait Perspective," documents the benefits of recreational engagement and how the role of parental "over-control" in youth behavioral choice are interrelated. [3]

Impactful Federal, State, and Local Policies

One example of policy at the state-level that provides funding for recreational therapy can be seen in Indiana. [4] The Indiana Community Integration and Habilitation (CIH) Home and Community-Based Services provides a CIH Waiver. This allows flexibility in providing the supports necessary to help individuals gain and maintain optimum levels of self-determination and community integration.[5]

Available Tools and Resources

Using Sport for Drug Abuse Prevention Handbook was published by the UN Office of Crime Control and Drug Prevention and provides guidance on the use of sport activities to prevent substance use problems among youth.[6]

Enhancing Motivation for Change in Substance Use Disorder Treatment is a SAMHSA guidebook that includes avariety of resources for implementing change strategies, such as motivational interviewing, that will catalyze and stabilize the types of change needed to increase engagemnet in recreational activities. [7]

Promising Practices

America's ReHab Campuses based in Tucson, Arizona utilizes recreational therapy and social activities to help promote the overall health and wellness of individuals with disabling conditions, addictions, and illnesses.[8]

Sans Bar challenges the way we think about socializing and creating community. [9]

Great Lakes Recovery Center intentionally utilizes recreation to increase coping skills. [10]

The South Suburban Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse incorporates recreational and wellness activities in their suite of services. [11]