10 Ways to Act out without Getting Locked Up
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10 Ways to Act out without Getting Locked Up


Sobriety doesn’t have to be boring, and I’ve actually had more fun doing wild things while not intoxicated than I have while completely plastered. But I do get squirrelly sometimes in recovery, bored with my routine, overloaded with work and sometimes I just say “fuck it” and want to fly off the deep end. There are constructive—and destructive—ways to do this. It’s not about morality, it’s about consequences. Sure, I can act out by screwing the hot 24-year-old who hit on me at my last job, but do I really want to deal with the aftermath of that situation? A year ago, I may have said yes, but today the answer is, “No way in hell.” I can also dump $200 on Aveda products or $500 on a pair of kickass boots, but then I won’t be able to pay my rent.

So how can someone in recovery get wild and crazy without suffering negative consequences, or picking up a drink or a drug?

1. Go speed dating.

I’m more of a fan of speed dating than Tinder. Sign yourself up for one of those events where you rotate between tables while dressed-up and nervous as fuck. Force yourself to have witty but sober conversations. Maybe you can even change your name, wear a wig and tell people you’re a neurosurgeon just for kicks. If you’re a man, wear a suit. If you’re a woman, you can wear a suit too. If that terrifies you too much, see #3.

2. Go horseback riding.

This might seem lame, but not if you ask for the craziest and most unpredictable one in the stable, and then go out on your own. See what happens. It’s possible you may fall and break something, but you risked this every time you got obscenely drunk.

3. Force yourself to do karaoke.

I’ve had more fun doing this sober than perhaps any activity. If you’re a straight man, sing show tunes; if you’re a woman, sing death metal.

4. Get a new hobby.

Okay, this may also sound super-lame. Images of needlepoint and gardening may come to mind. But I’ve invested years of my recovery into the art of raqs sharqi, otherwise known as belly dancing. Stepping into a circle of drummers with a veil and finger cymbals while sporting some cleavage and a white stomach is pretty nerve-racking. It’s also a wonderful adrenaline rush and I get lots of phone numbers from drummers. So try out a dance class in Bollywood, take a surf lesson at the nearest beach, go zip-lining or climb Mount Everest. You may look like an asshole, but at least you’ll feel alive.

5. Take a trip. Any trip.

It doesn’t have to be to Spain or Italy or Thailand, although if you’re a high-roller, that’s seriously recommended. If you’re flying, it’s all the better to do it last minute and travel on some obscure airline that may or may not crash. Turbulence can be fun, and throwing yourself into a culture where you don’t know the language will prove remarkably entertaining. It’s not recommended to go to Dubai if you’re a woman. It is recommended, if you don’t mind the cold, to fly up to Iceland to see the Northern Lights. If you’re super-rich, go to the Maldives, stay at the Four Seasons and swim in the bioluminescent ocean.

6. Eat sweetbreads.

Don’t know what sweetbreads are? They are the pancreas and thymus glands of animals. Don’t worry, they taste just like brains. Or you could try Rocky Mountain Oysters. Don’t know what those are? They’re bulls’ balls. There’s also blood pudding, fried crickets and the Filipino balut, which is a half-formed duck embryo. You think shooting cocaine is ballsy? I say eating a live octopus in Korea is even more badass.

7. Stage in a professional, high-end kitchen on a Saturday night.

What does stage mean? It’s French for auditioning for a job. You can work a shift for free in just about any kitchen in America, even ones with award-winning chefs, because they are desperate for the free labor. You don’t even need any experience, because they always need someone to pick herbs, wash greens or shuck Fava beans. I did this one night at Providence, the best restaurant in LA. You will be yelled at, burned, bumped and told to get the fuck out of the way, and the chef may even call you stupid, but it’s a fabulous way to get out of your comfort zone. And if you’re good, you might even land a job.

8. Even if you’re not funny, go to an open mic and try stand-up.

Just get up there and say anything. If someone heckles, make fun of them. You get a free pass to act like a jerk if you’re doing stand-up.

9. Get a cat.

Put the cat on a leash. Train the cat to walk on the leash in your neighborhood. It’s possible, because my roommate does this. People will stare at you like you’re crazy, but no one can throw you in the psych unit. It’s especially fun when the cat climbs a tree and you’re stuck in the center of the sidewalk holding the leash high up in the air and no one can see what’s at the end of the leash you’re holding.

10. If all else fails, get some of your sober friends together and make prank calls.

Call up your nearest grocery store and ask them if they have the orange asparagus in stock. When they say “that doesn’t exist,” explain to them that they’re not up to speed on the latest horticultural advances. Then ask to speak to the manager. Tell the manager that you found the orange asparagus at Whole Foods and that you feel their grocery store is discriminating against certain vegetables and that you’re going to get a lawyer.

If you’re still bored, draft a letter that says something like Orange Asparagus v. Ralphs. Sign your name “Esquire.” Follow up a few days later in person. As long as you don’t get violent, no one can call the cops on you.

*This article is for entertainment purposes only. Kids, don’t try these at home.

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About Author

Tracy Chabala is a freelance writer for many publications including the LA Times, LA Weekly, Smashd, VICE and Salon. She writes mostly about food, technology and culture, in addition to addiction and mental health. She holds a Master's in Professional Writing from USC and is finishing up her novel.