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Finding Fun in Recovery


How do you help clients at Vinland Center learn how to have fun while in recovery?

You start with respect.

“You treat everyone with respect so they feel good about themselves,” said Tom Everett, who works in Vinland’s Fitness and Wellness Program. “We try to incorporate fun into activity. We want to find the fun for each client so they don’t dread doing things.”

What does Vinland provide for fun?

“Kayaking, canoeing, ping pong, pool, volleyball, basketball, Wii, snowshoeing, walking, and yoga,” said Vinland Fitness and Wellness Manager Jeff Willert.


But why is it important for clients to learn how to have fun again sober?

“These clients haven’t had any fun that’s clean and sober,” Willert said. “No one’s treated them very well or been kind to them much or it’s been a long time since anyone’s been good to them. They will try harder to work on recovery if they see that we genuinely care about their future.”

An important part in helping clients is ensuring they feel comfortable.

“They get comfortable here fast,” Willert said. “They finally get to take a breath and relax.”

But the challenge also posed is that as comfortable as clients are able to get, their time at Vinland can feel too brief.

“When clients start to see results it’s very cool for them,” Willert said. “But it’s such a short time here in comparison to the lifetime of use they’ve struggled with and nothing to look forward to. Here, they look forward to each day more.”

Another challenge for clients to learn how to have fun in recovery is facing constant cravings to use substances, Willert said.

“That’s a huge obstacle for so many to get through when they come here,” Willert said. “But they enjoy therapeutic exercise. Many say its the best hour of their day. They like to come in here and blow off steam, move around, and interact.”

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Willert and Everett agree engaging clients is the most important part of helping them learn to have fun in recovery and learn what they like to do without using substances.

“For clients who have been there, done that, we are often they’re last stop or last hope,” Willert said. “Our counselors are exceptional and have to be innovative and make things fun.”

The outdoor recreation aspect available to clients at Vinland is a great benefit to helping them on the road to recovery. By respecting, engaging and making things fun for clients, Vinland staff also enjoy what they do. And when the outcome is a positive path to recovery, everybody wins.