A Habit of a Different Kind: Why It’s Good to Start Crafting


Following detox and entering rehabilitation, we are advised and guided toward replacing unhealthy habits with new, healthy activities to counteract moments of boredom and detract from the negative thoughts that can lead to relapse. However, when we think about long term rehabilitation, how often do our minds turn to hobbies? Specifically, a quiet craft on a cold winter’s afternoon?

During counseling sessions, you might be encouraged to leave your comfort zone, take up a sport or a fitness activity. Doing something new can be worthwhile and certainly worth your time since it can enlarge your toolbox of long-term wellness and coping strategies. Most of the activities that counselors recommend are team activities, involving more than one participant. Being around healthy, like-minded others is crucial if we want to remain free from substance abuse. However, sometimes learning to be by ourselves, in the company of no one else is a good thing too.

All By Myself

Often, when we engage in addictive behavior, we tend to associate ourselves with others who are committed to a similar lifestyle. Within the boundaries of that lifestyle lie unhealthy thought patterns, false beliefs, and impulsive behaviors. Learning to spend time alone takes practice. Being alone might have sent your thoughts wandering to acquiring the next fix or hit. It might have meant thinking about who to call for a few prescription pills because you had run out.  It might have prompted a mental run-through of your next trip to acquire Xanax at the doctor’s because you used up a month’s worth in ten days.  

We need to learn that being alone is okay. We need to learn how to like and accept ourselves again. Crafting—with its meditative moments and relatively quick results—can do that for us. In other words, there is no waiting to lose ten pounds or hit our twelve-month sobriety before we get permission to feel good. 

Getting Crafty

Crafting—with its tangible, visible, and ongoing results—may provide enough intrinsic value to help avoid relapse. Having a near-finished project we can be proud of can make staying substance-free feel worth it. The excitement of selecting and beginning the next project can teach us things about ourselves we didn’t know before. It is never in the results that we learn who we are. It is the trying that counts: the quiet tenacity of learning something new, the frustration of something not looking quite right, walking away then picking it up again because you promised this thing for a friend to thank them for their support

The discovery that you quite like being alone lost in your thoughts for a while is wonderful. The important discovery that you don’t think you’re too bad after all; in fact, you quite like yourself, and you are doing just fine in your company, can be life-changing. During your voyage across a land of unfamiliar stitches and patterns—that at times read like ancient cave scratching—you may figure out that you’re really smart and talented. While working on a craft, you also don’t have time to think about how to fill those empty hours without substances.

Perfectly Imperfect

Our grandparents—or great grandparents—who knitted, might have been on to something.  Picking up stitches at the end of a long day of taking care of kids and completing chores was their quiet time before going to bed, or the process of “de-stressing.” Some of us might have gotten those sweaters during the holidays. Maybe a sleeve wasn’t quite right, or a waistband was wider at the front than the back, but we got it anyway. The end product was not the point.  It didn’t matter that the neckline was finished with a slightly different shade of blue. What mattered was the thoughtfulness and an act of kindness from another human being.

Here and Now

When we honor a commitment and see something that we have made with our hands to the finish, we increase our self-worth and value in ourselves as capable human beings. We also develop coping skills that emerge, both consciously and unconsciously, in the quiet calm of an unhurried activity. Because our minds are engaged and relaxed while we make our craft, solutions to the day’s problems might have popped into our heads.

Pick Something

What you choose to do for a craft doesn’t have to be pricey or overly complicated. You just have to pick something and begin working on it. Start with one of those adult coloring books you often see near the checkout at the local supermarket. Grab some coloring pencils and get going.

Do you want to knit? Try a scarf. Making a scarf can be cheap and relatively uncomplicated. Let’s face it, you’re only knitting downward in one piece. If you knit a scarf soon, it may keep you or a friend warm this winter. 

Does sewing by hand sound fun?  Pick up a small cross stitch sewing kit at your local craft store. Stamped cross stitch is often best as the pattern is on the fabric, making it easier to follow. There are lots of crafts you can have a go at: 

  • Quilting
  • Dressmaking
  • Candle making
  • Soap making
  • Jewelry making
  • Model Building
  • Pottery
  • Jigsaw puzzles   
  • Photography
  • Drawing
  • Scrapbooking

How To Find Time

You don’t need several hours of free time to experience the mental health benefits of relaxing with a craft or two. If purposefully scheduling your activities this year, take time to fit in the activity.  Fifteen or twenty minutes each day, or every other day, is enough to reap the benefits. Select something easy to put away and pick up a day or two later without trying to figure out where you left off.


When we think about long term rehabilitation, how often do we consider choosing a hobby to fill our time? Specifically, how often do we think of crafting as an option? The quiet tenacity of learning something new can be exciting and enlightening. Crafting—with its tangible, visible, and ongoing results—may provide enough intrinsic value to help avoid relapse. We can feel that having a nearly finished project that we can be proud of is worth staying substance-free for. Enjoying a craft can become something we learn about ourselves. Surrounded by the Rocky Mountains’ inspiring landscape, the Detox Center of Colorado offers a solution-based transitional residence program aimed at accountability and recovery. No matter how far you’ve traveled on your journey to substance abuse or mental health recovery, we look forward to helping you explore the range of supportive treatment and aftercare options available to you.  Call the Detox Center of Colorado at (303) 952-5035

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