“I am grateful for the opportunity to be grateful. Inactive use, as much as I said I cared and promised not to use again, my actions showed otherwise. I am grateful today that my actions match my intentions… No matter how bad a day it is, if I wake up and go to bed clean and sober, it was a great day. It is another gift, another miracle!” ~Kathy Chappell Hill, Horseshoe Magnet: My Personal Journey to Recovery Of all the holidays, none is more representative of the ideals of successful sobriety than Thanksgiving. When you are in recovery from substance abuse, your gratitude literally means everything. As the old saying goes, if you want to stay sober, “Gratitude Must Be Your Attitude”.
Why Is Gratitude So Important for Successful Recovery?
As you learned in 12-Step meetings, complacency can be a precursor to relapse. When you lose your sense of wonder about the blessings you have received during your recovery, then you also start to lose the appreciation for everything that you have. In other words, you start to take the most important things in your life for granted – your loved ones, your health and self-respect, and your sobriety. And when you start taking those things were granted, you also stop doing the work that got you to the healthier and happier place that you now find yourself in.
Thanksgiving Should Be a Time of Reflection for People in Recovery
It is not an exaggeration to say that people in recovery have more to be thankful for than the average person. Stop and think about everything that you have gained or regained since you began your sober journey:
- Your health
- Your sanity
- Your finances
- Your relationship
Remember what your life was like before you got sober? Now – compare it to the life you have today. Considering how much recovery has done for you, the word “grateful” should never be far from your mind.
How Can I Demonstrate How Grateful I Am for My Sobriety This Thanksgiving?
Gratitude should be more than a feeling that you keep inside – it should be reflected in your daily life and especially during the holiday that has “thanks” in its name. Here are some concrete ways you can celebrate your sobriety on Thanksgiving:
- Tell your loved ones – When you were actively drinking and drugging, these are the people who stood by. Celebrate your relationships by telling your family and friends how much you appreciate their love and support.
- Acknowledge your sponsor – If you have a sponsor who has walked with you and helped you and kept you on the sober path, take some time to meet with them and commemorate the role they have played in your recovery
- Make a list – When you are busy living your daily life, it can be far too easy to overlook the multitude of blessings that you have received. Write down on the things for which you should be grateful – large and small. If there is a person or anything that has made you happy or made your life better in some way during the past year, put it on the list.
- Help someone else –There is no better way to show how much of gift sobriety is than by sharing that gift with others. When you share a 12-Step meeting, volunteer at a homeless shelter or halfway house, or perform a 12th Step by “carrying the message to others”, you show that you are fully aware of the magnitude of the gift that you yourself were once given.
- Don’t forget the people who helped you – Chances are you were able to achieve sobriety because of the tireless efforts of a team of addiction professionals. During this time of year, call them or send a card just to say “Thank You”.
Although gratitude should be part of your daily life during recovery, when you make a special effort during the Thanksgiving season to recall why and to whom should be appreciative, it reaffirms how valuable your sobriety and continued recovery is to you.