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Those Who Play Together Stay Sober Together

Published on: October 19, 2022

As stated on their website, The Phoenix is a sober active community that provides free, active, and engaging programs- such as rock climbing, CrossFit, yoga, dance classes, and social events – to anyone in recovery from a substance use disorder or who chooses to live a sober lifestyle. 

Their primary hypothesis is that people in recovery need an opportunity to connect meaningfully with others through activities that bring them closer to joy in their lives—often including physical activity and play. It’s the first part of their five pillars (Connectedness: CHIME).

In their whitepaper, they cite a study that shows building connections to a network of peers in recovery is among the strongest predictors of sustained remission. More than just a “sober gym,” it’s an intentional community that understands how to construct environments for people to thrive. 

Ironically, it’s not just a secret sauce for people in recovery; their results point to insights that would benefit people before they go down the path of harmful substance use. 

For many kids growing up through elementary school, youth sports and other organizations like the Scouts program play a big part in their socialization and development.

Unfortunately, many kids stop participating when they reach their teenage years, often citing how intense competition takes away from the fun factor. For those who continue playing, the pressure to perform and potentially earn a spot to play at the collegiate level removes a big piece of the fun puzzle. 

Additionally, since most adolescents started owning and using a mobile device for entertainment, communication, and social interaction (~2013), more kids have become isolated from their peers.

Social isolation is horrible for anyone, but especially for adolescents undergoing identity formation—in other words, trying to figure out who they are. They need positive social interactions, a lot of them, to determine their values, talents, and authentic personality. 

So what’s the implication from the findings of a sober active community for people in recovery? 

For one, teenagers need social interaction. As the Phoenix community has said, “Participation in group fitness and other active social events initiates social interactions and have been shown to strengthen social connectedness, as participants build relationships and form trust during the activities.”

Even better than social interaction, create opportunities for teens to be active and play together. The more time they have to build solid connections and bonds, the more protected they’ll be from making harmful choices that can ruin their lives. 

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