The pursuit of sobriety is often the pursuit of happiness. While the early focus of addiction treatment is to get through detox and stop using the substance, addiction recovery then transforms into a quest for a healthier, more fulfilling life.
Every recovery path is different, and the steps towards happiness and contentment in your own life will be tailored to your own needs and experiences. That said, one way that can help get you there faster is the ability to practice gratitude.
Practice Gratitude for a Change of Perspective
Addiction recovery comes with various challenges, so being told you should be grateful may come across as a bit silly at first. However, practicing gratitude regularly can actually change your perspective on the recovery process and even make staying sober an easier process. It all starts with knowing what to be grateful for each day.
While you can always be grateful for your home and your possessions, real happiness comes from being appreciative for the deeper things in life. It is up to you to decide what means the most to you, but just being in your current position means you already have at least a couple things to be grateful for. And it goes far beyond just saying “thank you” when someone does you a favor.
For example, very few people — if any — manage to overcome addiction and reach sobriety all on their own. As you are learning to navigate your life in recovery, it’s important to appreciate and acknowledge all of those who have helped you along the way. While you may not be in a position to actively thank them every day, you can still adopt a grateful mindset for having such a wonderful support network.
It’s also worth being grateful just for being in addiction recovery. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration estimates that there are more than 22 million people in the U.S. suffering from addiction, yet less than 20 percent of them manage to seek treatment. Just the fact that you are on a sober path is gratitude-worthy!
How Gratitude Fits in With Addiction Recovery
Live each day with an attitude of gratitude, and happiness will swiftly follow.
This isn’t just an anecdotal statement. A recent Harvard Medical School study found that people who regularly expressed gratitude in everyday life were generally happier and even had healthier relationships than those who did not. The study’s participants also expressed greater life satisfaction and contentment. This is important for addiction recovery, because all of these feelings are crucial to fading the desire to abuse substances.
Likewise, expressing gratitude to others has also been shown to increase levels of dopamine and serotonin. These brain chemicals are what make us naturally feel joy, and higher levels of both have an inverse correlation with drug abuse. Basically, a life of gratitude gives you a more positive outlook on your new life in recovery and makes you less likely to relapse.
Grow Feelings of Gratitude
Living a grateful life does not always come easy. But you’ve tackled substance abuse and made it to addiction recovery — you’ve got this! Here are some tips to help you grow your feelings of gratitude and appreciate everyday life:
- Talk to others about things they’re grateful for – Getting perspective from others can be a great way to take a step back and see the things that you can be appreciative of. Try bringing it up in group therapy or in other settings where you may be around people who have been in your shoes.
- Practice regular meditation – Learning to meditate will help keep you grounded and more in tune with life’s beauty.
- Keep a gratitude journal – Try to write an entry every day for things you are grateful for. You can also use this journal to help track your addiction recovery progress.
- Make an effort to thank people – Making an effort each day to thank the people around you for things (even the smallest of favors) will not only help you build up your grateful attitude, but will help make up for the times during your addiction when you may have not thanked them enough.
We Can Help
Whether you are actively looking for an addiction treatment program or you’d simply like to learn more about gratitude and how it fits with sobriety, contact our team at Principles Recovery Center. Our rehab facility in Davie, Florida helps individuals from all walks of life become sober and build a life in recovery to be proud of.