Addiction Recovery: 10 of the Best Addiction Recovery Board Games

October 6, 2020

Addiction recovery board games are an excellent way for those recovering to stay on task and focused on their recovery. They not only encourage individuals to cope with triggers and emotions, but they also help players learn to deal with problems that come up in real life.

We care about you and those who are important to you. In addition to the best board games, we have also found the top five addiction recovery card games.

Board Games to Help with Recovery

These are 10 of the best addiction recovery board games.

Downward Spiral

Made by a group of researchers at a Texas University, the Downward Spiral Game is a sole survivor recovery board game where only one person remains at the end of the game. It is similar to Monopoly™, where the players roll the die and move around the board. Similar to Monopoly squares like having to pay Income Tax or Go Directly to Jail, this board is filled with major downfalls and mishaps along the way.

These mistakes made along the way involve serious issues such as driving while intoxicated. All playing in the game go through the board filled with consequences from bad choices like relapsing repeatedly. The players will find themselves losing everything, including:

  • Legal status
  • Self-esteem
  • Finances
  • Friendships
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Health
  • Life expectancy

The purpose is for the players to understand the consequences of relapse as they experience things like losing their legs from having an accident while driving drunk and shooting the neighbor while high on crack. As these situations arise, the players are encouraged to talk about their feelings and work out solutions to avoid relapse. This game is recommended for those who are 18 and up.

Inspirado: The Recovery Board Game

The name of the game is the Spanish word for inspired. It helps the players find the best way to their plan of recovery by going through a path of real-life events. From ‘bad day’ spots to ‘strength’ spots, each space on the gameboard has a real-life situation that many people face in addiction recovery.

Players roll the die, move their game piece, and follow the instructions on the space where they land. Each time a player moves, they have to either choose a card or discuss their thoughts and feelings. When players share their feelings and thoughts, they get tokens (morale chips) that they can use at the end of the game to decide who wins.

The game is based on the B.F. Skinner’s ABC model of operant conditioning and the Fogg Behavior Model (FBM), which helps by supporting small habits that motivate addicts to change. These little habits are popular and effective because they are manageable and can be done repeatedly over a long time. Recommended for those 13 and up.


If you have a good sense of humor, this game is perfect for you. Two recovering addicts developed it, one of them being a comedian, Mark Lundholm. In this game, players move around a game board similar to the Snakes and Ladders game board but with some interesting and hilarious spaces.

To play, each person draws a card and moves their game piece around the board. Players follow instructions from the spaces as well as from other players. The idea of the game is to encourage sharing and discussion with humor.

The winner is the one who gets to the winner’s circle first. However, everyone will make it to the winner’s circle eventually, so everyone wins. It is recommended for adults as well as children over 14.

The Use, Abuse, and Recovery Game

Going around the board and talking about feelings is the main point of this game based on Rational-Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT). REBT is a psychotherapy that helps players identify their self-defeating thoughts and replace them with healthier choices.

Each spot on the board instructs players to either talk about a situation or feel or draw one of them. The Rational Reminder cards give players a bit of advice while the Voice cards encourage players to talk more about their recovery process or relapses. Recommended for ages 13 and up.

The Use, Relapse, and Recovery Journey Game

Similar to the Use, Abuse, and Recovery Game, but more detailed, this game has a variety of topics and categories. Following the instructions on the spaces they land on, players will learn life-changing tips and get support from other players.

Some of the spaces tell the players to pick a card from one of the two decks. The Higher Power Deck includes:

  • Relapse cards
  • Reward cards
  • Recovery cards

The Play Cards have questions the players have to answer that come in three levels, including:

  • Beginner cards
  • Intermediate cards
  • Advanced cards

The topics of these cards include:

  • Drugs
  • Effects of drugs
  • Recovery support meetings
  • Triggers
  • Denial
  • Interpretations
  • Sayings
  • Plans to prevent relapse
  • Negative consequences

Everyone playing this game wins by learning more about their addictions and sharing their experiences and feelings with others. It is therapeutic as well as educational for all but is recommended for those 13 years and older.

Relapse Prevention Game

For those in a relapse prevention program, Dr. Berthold Berg created the Relapse Prevention Game. It is based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and works by teaching the players how to cope with issues that come up in recovery.

Each player rolls the die and moves around the board, following the instructions on the spaces where they land. Sometimes players may lose a turn or have to pay a coin to the bank, and other times they may get to roll again or take money from the bank. And sometimes the player has to draw a card from one of the decks.

The cards prepare the players to deal with real-life threats and urges by finding solutions. This process works well for anyone recovering from drug or alcohol abuse. But it is recommended for those over 13 years of age because of the adult language and material.

Navigating the Waters of CD Recovery Game

How about navigating some uncharted waters? The board game, Navigating the Waters of CD, is an intervention game for recovering addicts, their families, and counselors. The idea is to get everyone on the same page about what therapy may or may not work for each person. Because what works for one may not work for another.

By moving around the board and performing what the game spaces say, each person gets to choose what they think is best for each situation that arises. For example, the Captain’s Orders Cards describe a scenario that will either cause a possible relapse or encourage recovery.

The game is approved for children ages 12 through 18, but adults are encouraged to play with them. This game is a great tool for group therapy sessions or family therapy for someone who is in a recovery situation.

Better Me

This game is different from the rest in that it encourages accountability even after the game is over. During the game, each player will choose to commit to real-world actions they may have to perform immediately or later on. If the player decides to do something, later on, they have to choose a partner who will follow up with them after the game to see if they have fulfilled their commitment.

During each turn, a player will draw one card from the category they land on and follow the card’s instructions. Some of them are actions, while others are feeling or thought exercises. Some of the cards encourage the whole group to get in on the action by sharing their stories, thoughts, or feelings.

The categories in the game include:

  • Fall Forward: When a player draws one of these cards, they have to miss a turn while reflecting on something important to them. They help the players see how important it is to take care of themselves and overcome setbacks.
  • Body: The player will have to think about their health and choices to improve their physical self. They include things like diet and exercise. 
  • People: These cards deal with issues that the players may have in their relationships with others. They will be encouraged to do something to improve one of these relationships.
  • Tangibles: This deck of cards includes dealing with real-world events like the physical things that players experience in the world around them. The cards help keep players focused on the real world.
  • Heart: Feelings of love and connection is what motivates these cards. The typical Heart card invites the player to share with the group their feelings about a specific situation. Others ask a question for the whole group to consider.
  • Mind: This category is full of mindfulness exercises and cognitive ability. These cards encourage the players to challenge what they consider apparent or normal while asking them to consider new perspectives.

For a player to win the game(s), he must first fulfill all of their life areas. However, the game continues until everyone reaches the end, so nobody loses. Recommended for those 12 and up.

Playing CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy)

You get 15 games in one with Playing CBT. It includes a beginners’ game board and an advanced version, making it an excellent choice for anyone in any age group to have a chance to learn. In the box, you also get six decks of cards, including blank ones where players can write their own experiences.

The emotion board and physical sensation board help players identify what emotions they are feeling and the physical sensations to find the connection. The Emotion cards help let the players show how they are feeling. This game is suitable for any age but is recommended for individuals working with children or young adults such as:

  • Teachers
  • Therapists
  • Self-help group leaders
  • Life coaches
  • School counselors
  • Social workers
  • Psychologists

It is also great for families to play together. Playing CBT works well for recovering persons, teaching them to change their actions by learning more about their thoughts and feelings. Learning coping skills and expressing emotions is an effective way for anyone to learn so they can use it in any situation.

The Drugs and Alcohol Game

Since children can be exposed to alcohol and drugs at an early age, this game is especially for kids from ages 10 through 16. The Drugs and Alcohol Game teaches players about situations that can lead to drug or alcohol use. With discussion and role-playing, the kids learn how to cope with various hard scenarios that can happen to them in real life.

The game cards present the players with situations where the characters are around drugs and alcohol. The kids next identify the motivations of the characters to use alcohol or drugs. Then they are encouraged to act out how they would reject drug use in real life. This game is excellent for family therapy or schools as well as drug abuse therapy for kids.

The Top Five Card Games That Help with Addiction Recovery

Some people going through addiction recovery may not enjoy board games or would rather not have to put as much effort into it. For these people, a simple card game can be a safer way to work things out without getting into so much detail. Here are some popular addiction recovery card games.

A New Beginning Recovery Card Game

A New Beginning Recovery Card Game includes a stack of cards that ask questions relating to the 12-steps of sobriety. By mixing inner feelings and thoughts with outside issues and situations, this card game helps the players learn new skills to facilitate their recovery. Some of the questions that a player may have to ponder include:

  • If you see an old friend who is using drugs, how will you handle it?
  • Do you have multiple addictions?
  • List the names of three people who may be positively impacted by your changes.

Substance Abuse Game/Activities Kit

This game has four games in one for kids from grade school to high school and even for adults. Whether it is drugs, alcohol, or other types of addiction, each of these games has a unique way of addressing problems.

For example, the Look at Alcohol & Tobacco Game has 50 cards with facts about smoking and using alcohol for everyone to discuss. The questions are related to issues like why people smoke and why drinking can be harmful to you. The bingo game has five categories, including:

  • Tobacco and marijuana
  • Alcohol
  • Hallucinogens
  • Stimulants and depressants
  • Other drugs

There is another game with situation cards that gives the players situations that they may face in real life. Each of the 50 cards gives the players the chance to ponder what their reaction may be. And the Know Drugs Challenge Game is a Round Robin type of game where two teams play against each other. The cards have questions about the damage drugs and alcohol can cause to the body and other people. 

Acting Out: The Substance Abuse Version

This role-playing card and discussion game has players acting out certain situations to encourage discussions about drug use. Each card gives the players a scenario for them to act out either alone or with other players. Afterward, there is a discussion question or statement for everyone to discuss. Some of the categories include:

  • Who would you go to for help if…
  • Facts about drugs
  • How to help others stop
  • What would you do…
  • The negative consequences of drug use


If positivity is what you need, Totem is perfect. This mindfulness game is a fantastic team-building exercise for group therapy or family therapy sessions or just playing at home with the family. It comes with 80 Quality Cards and 80 Animal Cards. These have a different meaning as each player builds their totem pole with the cards they receive.

The cards let those around you describe your good qualities and strengths by giving you the cards they think you deserve. This self-esteem building activity encourages each player to consider how others see them and to provide them with an idea of how they interact with others. This game is an excellent way to increase positivity in those who are struggling. Totem is approved for those eight to 88.

Actions and Consequences

We all experience actions and consequences every day. However, those with addiction struggle more than the average person. This game has 75 experiences that can (and do) happen in real life. The topics of discussion include:

  • Recovery
  • Personal Health
  • Responsibility
  • Relationships
  • Money
  • Communication
  • Anger

In addressing all of these areas that could pose problems in life, Actions and Consequences encourages the players to think about alternatives to the situations besides returning to drugs or alcohol. The experiences include interactions with family and friends as well as coworkers or even strangers. This game comes in both adult and teen versions.

There Are Games for Everyone

Whether you’re a counselor or a recovering addict, any of these games could significantly impact your life. If you know a friend who struggles with addiction and relapse, one of these would make a great gift. Some are even good for family game night with some educational benefits thrown in. 

Games are great, but as everyone knows, addiction isn’t a game, so if you’re ready to reclaim your life, contact Steps Recovery Center and let us help you today. Our treatment center is dedicated to offering various treatment options and modalities and creating a safe, encouraging place for individuals to become sober and change their lifestyle.

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