Gratitude: The Best Gift of Sobriety
If there is one thing that my journey through addiction recovery has taught me, it’s the importance of gratitude. There is something about going from living a life of active addiction to living a life of sobriety that really makes you grateful for the little things in life. When you lose nearly everything in your life and have to put in the work to get it all back you really learn to appreciate how important they are.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is a list of a few of the things I have learned to be grateful for because of my recovery:
Never waking up with hangovers or having blackouts.
I love waking up in the morning feeling clear-headed and ready to face the day. When I look back on how my life used to be it seems crazy that waking up feeling sick and not remembering parts of the night before seemed “normal” to me. The sad thing about addiction is that it causes people to become comfortable with things that they shouldn’t be ok with, such as waking up with a hangover every morning.
Addiction quickly turns into a cycle of self-destruction. You drink too much the night before and wake up feeling sick and guilty for things that were said or done under the influence. You then force yourself to function throughout the day in order to be able to make it to that next drink and then drink more to help the unpleasant feelings go away. The next day the same pattern starts over again. Things usually get worse and worse as time goes by. It’s a difficult way to live but when you’re caught up in this trap it can be hard to figure out how to break free.
Having enough money to pay all of my bills.
I never really meant to waste all of my money on alcohol, it is something that just sort of happens when that becomes your first priority. Gone are the days of having to borrow money just to make ends meet and worrying about how I will get by. I’ve learned how to prioritize my spending and an addiction is no longer stealing money away from other areas of my life.
Not having to worry about how to get that next buzz.
Living a life of active addiction usually has a few distinct parts. The upswing of getting high or drunk, the downswing of coming down and the unbearable times in between when all you can think about is getting high or drunk again. From the outside looking in this sounds like pure insanity, and that’s probably because it is. It is such a liberating feeling to no longer worry about when and how to get the next drink because you no longer feel like you have to.
Developing meaningful relationships.
It’s hard, for many reasons, to build healthy relationships when you are battling addiction. Addiction causes people to say and do things that often betray a person’s trust. One of the nice things about recovery is that a person is able to work on rebuilding that trust and repairing broken relationships. It is so much easier to be a good friend when you are not actively participating in substance abuse.
Not having to worry about getting into legal trouble.
When you use illicit drugs you constantly have to worry about getting caught and charged with something. A whole list of potential legal troubles can come from using drugs or drinking too much. Fortunately, this is something you no longer have to worry about once you get sober.
The ability to confront my problems.
Drugs and alcohol are often used as a means of escaping the problems of life. However, drinking and using do nothing to actually handle problems and usually end up making things much worse. When a person lives a life of recovery they are better equipped to actually work through their problems instead of running away from them. In the long run, this is a much healthier way to live.
A full refrigerator and pantry.
Food security is a wonderful thing but it is often one of the first things to go during active addiction. It is a great feeling not to have to worry where your next meal will come from or having to choose between eating and getting high.
The power of feeling content.
It’s nearly impossible to feel truly content during active addiction. Other than the fleeting moments of an initial high, a person is always chasing that next fix or worrying about how to get enough money to make it through the day. When a person is able to break free from their addiction they are able to finally feel a true sense of contentment.
Experiencing the meaning of freedom.
My addiction made me a slave to alcohol. Everything in my life revolved around it, I couldn’t imagine getting through the day without it and my thoughts were consumed by it. Now that I am sober and have put in the work to achieve long-term sobriety I am no longer consumed by the need to drink and for me, this is what being free is all about.
Being able to be there for the people I love (including myself!)
This is perhaps the thing I am most grateful for when it comes to my recovery. By living a life of sobriety I am finally able to be there for my family, my friends and, most importantly, myself.