Gratitude is one of the essential pillars of the addiction recovery process. From Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) to Smart Recovery, gratitude remains a universally recommended practice in the addiction treatment community and an important phase of all 12-Step programs. Being thankful may seem like a simple and unimportant piece to the addiction recovery puzzle – a thanksgiving themed Hallmark commercial initially comes to mind -, but when practiced as a daily routine, it has the potential to impact thought patterns that are at the root of self-destructive, addict behavior.
The acknowledgment and acceptance of what is good in your life is not just a reminder of the stark contrasts between two very different lifestyles — a life consumed by addiction versus your chosen, healthier lifestyle on the path to long-term sobriety. Voicing gratitude, whether in your mind or out loud, is also an active way to help maintain sobriety by promoting positive thinking and altering negative thought patterns that could potentially trigger a relapse.
Individuals new to the addiction recovery process and just entering rehab will hear the word repeated often. The practice of being grateful and voicing out loud what you are thankful for will almost certainly also be instituted at least once a day. You will quickly find that being grateful might just be the only consistently useful tool for both those in early recovery as well as among the old-timers who have achieved and maintained long-term sobriety.
What Exactly Does Gratitude Mean?
At its most basic, gratitude in addiction recovery means being actively thankful for not only sobriety, but also for all that is good in your life. Simple things like food and shelter rank just as high as having supportive loved ones and acceptance in the addiction recovery community. Initial gratitude will mostly not be too hard to come by for those in early recovery.
Substance misuse and the subsequent addictive disorders that individuals suffer from takes a significant toll on their mood and overall morale. Most individuals do not realize how miserable they were until they get a taste of newfound sobriety. Maintaining that feeling of gratitude, just like maintaining sobriety, takes effort and becomes harder as the years of sobriety start to add up.
Gratitude as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Individuals actively misusing substances with addiction disorders eventually begin to feel isolated and alone through their constant self-gratification and deception. Just as addictive behavior involves physically developing unhealthy habits, the very same behavior also sets about creating unhealthy thinking habits, some of which are arguably harder to reshape in a healthier image than the physical habits.
Sobriety is not just about abstaining from substance misuse; getting sober is only the first step. The remainder of the addiction recovery process is about having the self-awareness to recognize triggers and learn the skills to actively enact the necessary preventative measures to avoid those recognized triggers and thus avoid any potential relapse in the future.
One of the most common and best forms of therapeutic treatment for maintaining long-term sobriety for individuals with addictive disorders is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The therapy modality utilizes talk and dialectical therapy practices to identify and alter negative thought patterns in an effort to change previously resultant destructive emotions and behaviors. For example, simple dialectical changes to phrasing can alter an individual’s thought patterns and preventative measures against self-destructive behavior. Those in addiction recovery should not say, “ I will not drink,” but rather they should rephrase the sentiment as, “I will stay sober.” Changing the negative thought patterns that developed from an addictive disorder will take time and constant practice, something that daily gratitude can provide regularly.
Avoiding negatives and focusing on the positive is a proven method of treatment especially for addiction recovery, and this is exactly what gratitude accomplishes, just on a more personal, individualized level. Practicing daily gratitude is like giving yourself a daily therapy practice session in CBT. It improves overall morale while promoting a well-earned sense of humility that is miles apart from the thought and mood of an addictive mind. Being grateful for sobriety should come naturally to most individuals with addictive disorders; to finally feel relief after struggling for so many years against addiction is a hard feeling to forget. However, if you needed any more convincing, the medical proof alone is worth giving daily gratitude more than a try.
If you or someone you love is suffering from an addictive disorder with co-occurring mental health issues, then Choice House has the addiction treatment services to set you on the path to sobriety. We help men achieve sobriety through a dual diagnosis treatment program that utilizes a variety of therapeutic modalities to help them create a new foundation of love, understanding, and empathy. Our addiction recovery treatment center offers a 90-day inpatient program, intensive outpatient services, and the opportunity to take up residency at our sober living campus. Located in the Boulder County area of Colorado, our facilities are ideally situated between the Rocky Mountain National Park and the bustling city of Louisville. With the Rocky Mountains just a few steps away, we offer a unique outdoor wilderness therapy that allows men to reconnect with nature, fellow addiction recovery patients, and themselves through physical activities like hiking, rock climbing, and kayaking. We firmly believe that the friendships you make in recovery will last a lifetime and be critical to not only achieving initial sobriety but also in maintaining sobriety long after you have left our facilities. The close proximity to the city of Louisville also makes our facilities and the sober living campus an ideal location for outpatient services and transitioning early recovery patients. Those residing on campus can have the opportunity to seek out employment and maintain social lives as they transition back into a daily routine all the while under the structured supervision of Choice House staff. If you are interested in finding out more information about Choice House’s treatment services or facilities, please give us a call today at (720) 577-4422.