Recovery is all about transforming the feeling that you’re just existing in the world to actively living and engaging in it. Giving yourself sobriety gifts can be an excellent way to celebrate your milestones.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration defines recovery as a “process of change through which people improve their health and wellness, live self-directed lives, and strive to reach their full potential.”
In addiction recovery, we offer strength to ourselves in the form of self-compassion. We learn in active addiction that a “tough love approach “or being hypercritical of our faults and shortcomings does not bring about the rapid resolution we’re seeking. The biggest recovery gift is opportunity. The opportunity to show up like we want and make time for what brings us purpose and fulfillment. In recovery, we treat ourselves as a priority, not an option in our own life.
#1 The Gift of Gratitude
Focusing on what we think isn’t good enough or our qualities we don’t appreciate almost comes naturally. This pattern of highlighting our perceived faults doesn’t generate change and is often full of shame. Learning to appreciate what we have and focus on our strengths is a powerful sobriety gift we can give to ourselves.
One message of 12-step programs is to clean up our side of the street so we can bring focus back to ourselves. This practice of gratitude can fuel the belief that today we have the gift of another opportunity to show up for ourselves and others in a way we can appreciate in our sober life.
#2 Sobriety Gift of Physical Health
Physical health is often not at the forefront of our minds during active use. There is a significant toll on the body from the lack of nutrient dense food, consistent sleep schedule, and exercise.
Meal planning and regular exercise are sobriety gifts we can give ourselves each day to repair the damage done from neglecting our physical health. Developing a consistent routine, eating enough nutrient-rich meals, and getting the appropriate hours of sleep and physical activity are critical for recovery. Identifying classes or gyms to attend can be a great gift to yourself on your sobriety birthday / anniversary.
#3 Sobriety Gift of Healthy Relationships
As Alcoholics Anonymous states, “We don’t have relationships, we take hostages.” In active addiction, it’s impossible to have a healthy relationship with another person while sustaining the relationship to our addiction. Removing the substance and achieving recovery creates space for emotional intimacy where there was a lack of previously.
Intimacy comes from emotional connection with another person where healthy relationship boundaries are formed and enforced. The boundaries that became blurred during active use are reestablished in recovery with more defined expectations surrounding them. Having a relationship with another person that is consistent, predictable, and reciprocated is an incredible gift that is powerful enough to fuel your recovery.
#4 Sobriety Gift of Identity
People often lose themselves in drug or alcohol addiction, pulling away from their values and what defines their identity. When they enter recovery, they struggle with the idea of, “who am I now?” A gift of recovery is having the ability to define who you’re becoming.
Many people find a recovery identity through 12-step support groups such Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA). Identity is critical because it provides a sense of direction and intentionality in our actions. Each moment is now purposeful and intentional, making the gift of recovery all encompassing.
#5 Sobriety Gift of Honesty
The stress and worry of keeping track of who you told what can be exhausting. The double life we lead to fulfill the desires of our addiction comes at a cost to ourselves and others. Lying is a hallmark symptom of addiction, and we become so skillful at it that we often don’t see we’re lying to ourselves.
When you adopt an attitude of rigorous honesty, it allows you to offer yourself compassion, understanding your behaviors and actions were symptoms of the disease, not your character. Through honesty, we reestablish trust with those close to us and begin repairing the relationships we hold closely. We learn to trust our own assessments and perceptions of ourselves and others. Honesty means we don’t worry about keeping our stories straight because there are no more stories we need to track. Rigorous honesty can remove what feels like the weight of the world from your shoulders.
Celebrating recovery is giving yourself the gift of self-appreciation and treating yourself with the same love and energy you’d give another. It’s the gift that’s renewed each day and can be reinforced through consistent attendance and participation in the 12-step community.