The holiday season is here. This time of year can present a multitude of emotions for those recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction, some of which may challenge the gift of sobriety those in recovery have experienced and maintained.
A proven way to meet and grow from these emotional challenges to sobriety is to remain grateful for what one has worked for and been given. Gratitude, the experience of which is as much of a blessing as becoming and staying alcohol- and drug-free, is an important component of recovering and staying recovered from substance use disorders.
Gratitude’s definition encompasses grace, graciousness, and gratefulness. In brief, it’s a genuine, thankful appreciation of what one receives, be it noticeable or not. When associated with recovery from substance use disorders, we can define gratitude as that quality of feeling and being grateful, and acknowledging the benefits we have received in and out of recovery.
Psychology tells us that gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. Recovering alcoholics and addicts who express gratitude are more content and have healthier emotional views of themselves and the world. Being grateful allows those in recovery to realize and appreciate what they do have rather than what they do not. With gratitude, they feel more positive emotions, they enjoy good experiences, and they build and keep strong relationships and sober support systems. Perhaps most important of all, what were once adverse events and incidents become opportunities for them to grow and gain wisdom.
Gratitude is essential to establishing and building the recovering alcoholic’s and addict’s self-worth and resilience. It is a proven ingredient to avoiding relapse and dealing with short-term emotional setbacks.
How do those in recovery experience gratitude? Behaving in new and different ways is a key to experiencing gratitude. This may be doing simple things like making a gratitude list often, or keeping a gratitude journal. Such activity can awaken those in recovery to the many benefits of getting and staying sober, for it focuses attention on the positive things in their lives. It also may revolve around helping others – calling another in recovery or one who is new to it, joining a 12-Step meeting group and volunteering for the many jobs it offers, and/or giving rides to those without transportation. These and other activities are behaviors that can and do largely prevent the occurrence of the victim mentality so common to addiction.
Especially during the holiday season, we at Tully Hill are grateful to have had the privilege and honor of treating and caring for those suffering from substance use disorders, and contributing to their recoveries. From all of us to all of you, we wish you the continued blessing of gratitude.