5 Unexpected Recovery Tools That Actually Work

Recovery often evokes thoughts of clinical treatment and therapy, but there are a variety of other tools with which to achieve or sustain your sobriety. From cooking to learning an instrument, let’s take a look at five unexpected options you could use to maintain a successful recovery.

One of the most important parts of your journey to recovery is creating a relapse prevention plan. Creating a holistic recovery plan can make all the difference between a healthy journey to sobriety and relapse. 

But it is important to know that addiction is considered a chronic health condition, and experiencing a relapse is often part of the journey. This doesn’t mean that you will relapse or that you are set up for failure, simply knowing that relapse is a risk can propel you forward with executing your addiction recovery plan.

You may have heard of some common addiction recovery tools, such as drug and alcohol addiction counseling, Alcoholics Anonymous, or a 12-step program. While these programs can offer a variety of successes, there are some surprising recovery tools that we recommend incorporating into your relapse prevention plan.

Here are some unexpected recovery tools that will help you on your path to health and wellness.

Cooking & Baking

One of the best things to do in your recovery is take up and learn a new hobby. Typically, relapse can occur when you have a lot of time on your hands, so why not use your hands to create something more productive? Cooking and baking keeps your hands busy and results in a dish that you would ingest similar to how a person would have ingested alcohol or drugs. 

Plus, cooking and baking are complex skills, so you can constantly refine your skills and learn something new. There’s so much to learn, making this hobby particularly great for those who need to busy their hands. Plus you have something to show from it!

Learning an Instrument 

Much like cooking, learning an instrument is a fantastic hobby that keeps your mind focused on something productive. In fact, this is partly why music therapy is so beneficial for your mind, body, and spirit. 

When learning an instrument, an individual will commonly experience:

It is hard to be distracted when learning an instrument, and the process of learning something new will help you work on your focus and concentration.

Pleasure association
Addicts are used to getting dopamine surges from their substance of choice, and addiction is largely about seeking pleasure sources. Learning an instrument will help to create a new pleasure association; when you learn something new and have success at it, your body will send dopamine to your brain. This will foster a new pleasure and reward system for you.

Improved cognition
Think of your brain like a muscle – playing an instrument requires a lot of brainpower. When you consistently practice, you’ll be flexing your brain’s muscles and improving them over time.

It can be a challenge for addicts to maintain a level of discipline on their journey to recovery. Discipline through music will mimic the discipline needed to stay sober, and all you need are a few moments of practice per day to see the biggest results.

A huge part of sobriety is becoming accountable for yourself. When you put in the work needed to learn something new like an instrument, you’ll see results. The same goes with your relapse prevention plan.


Journaling can be an extremely helpful coping mechanism for you during your recovery journey. Because your journal is meant to be a vessel for creative expression, there is no one “right” way to do it. You don’t have to sound nice, you don’t have to write a compelling story, and you don’t have to follow any rules. 

The goal of journaling is to provide you with a healthy outlet to process your thoughts and feelings so you can better understand yourself, cope with your sobriety, and monitor your successes. 

Simply picking up a pen every day and jotting down some ideas in your journal can help you identify:

Your negative thoughts
Recovery can be a rollercoaster for your emotions, and it’s incredibly common to have negative thoughts and feelings throughout your journey. Using a journal is a healthy outlet to process your negative thoughts.

A safe space
Journaling is great for your mental health as it provides a safe space for you and only you. Simply put, it feels great to write your emotions down on paper and to shut them away when you are done journaling.

Relapse triggers
By consistently journaling every day, you’ll be more in-tune with the patterns in your life. This means identifying certain thoughts, situations, and moments that make you think about using again. You will be writing down everything you’re feeling; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Doing this will help you make sense of every day and to process the emotions you are feeling.

Art Therapy

As an unconventional recovery tool, art therapy is a fantastic way to help those who suffer from substance abuse explore their feelings in a non-confrontational way. Similar to learning an instrument, art therapy can help individuals process their emotions in a safe environment while safely exploring their emotions.

Art therapy can be helpful with:

  • Externalizing thoughts and emotions in a non-destructive way.
  • Providing therapists insight into what their patient is feeling.
  • Allowing individuals to feel empowered by exploring the symbols of their work.
  • Expressing emotions that are either repressed or unconscious to you. 
  • Relieving stress and improving symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Boosting your creativity and learning something new.

Eating a Healthy Diet

Sobriety can take a major toll on both your physical and mental health. In order to prioritize your self-care and set yourself up for success, you’ll want to eat a healthy diet as often as possible. Using food as fuel to nourish you is key to creating healthy habits, and a healthier mind from the inside, out. Plus, your body will regain the nourishment lost during your addiction, and you’ll find a renewed sense of strength and motivation within your life.

These unusual recovery tools can make all the difference on your path to sobriety. Each person is different in their recovery process, and there’s no one right choice of action for you. Remember, you have come a long way and any investment in your sobriety is a good one. 

If you need help finding the right resources for your recovery, call us toll-free today.

February 25, 2022

Adam Snyder


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