Thanksgiving is historically a time to celebrate rare moments of understanding and peace between two completely different concepts, juxtaposed by uncertain circumstances. Transitioning from a life of addiction to committed sobriety can feel like a battle with momentary ceasefires at times, and in early recovery, it’s important to cherish each moment you spend feeling confident in a future where you can stay clean and sober.
But as the months turn to years, and the years pass by, it can be easy to take something like sobriety for granted. And when life’s challenges and frustrations catch the better of us, old temptations are always ready to try and claim another victim. Being thankful is not just polite, it’s important.
A Calmer Life
If addiction is anything, it’s tumultuous and without control. From one moment to the next, life pulls you from one miserable direction into another, and any attempt to beat it on your own gets thwarted by an inner voice that convinces you to give up, or cravings so intense that you can’t think of anything but the next high.
It takes more than one person to start the journey to recovery, so for anyone who made it through to a better, sober life, it’s important to reflect on the way there and think about all the people and all the factors that helped you along the way.
It’s because of all that, that you get to enjoy a calmer life. A life more in line with what you really want and wish for. A life that gives you the opportunity to make your own choices, live and breathe freely day after day, and never feel trapped in the same way again.
Waking up from a long night out can at times be downright excruciating when you’re addicted, and it’s only worse the longer the addiction lasts. Drugs and alcohol can heavily dehydrate the body and place a huge amount of stress on your endocrine system and your brain, causing massive headaches, dry mouth, muscle pain, memory loss, blackouts, and many other unpleasant symptoms. For many, mornings because synonymous with the struggle.
That all changes when you start to adjust to sobriety. Sure, not every morning is a walk in the park. But you learn to be grateful and thankful for the peaceful mornings when you wake up earlier than expected, aren’t in a rush, and get to enjoy the first cup of coffee or tea with the sight of a rising sun. The smell of butter on toast, eggs in a pan, or pancakes, stacked and wafting through the kitchen. You get to have time to yourself in the mornings to prepare, wake up, and get ready for a productive day ahead.
Some days won’t be like that, and most days meld together. But it’s the days when we get to stop and appreciate all we’ve managed to change that are the most important – and ideally, you should take time to be thankful for every day.
Quitting drug use is not just a sound choice mentally, but physically as well. For every month spent sober, your body has more time to heal from your time spent using drugs. From alcohol, marijuana and cigarettes, to cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and prescription medication – every drug leaves behind a trace in the body.
Drugs themselves are usually metabolized completely within a matter of hours, days, or weeks, but what’s left behind is the physical scarring and damage left by the drug use. The heart, liver, lungs, brain, and kidneys bear the brunt of the damage, alongside other organs like the skin and stomach.
Not only does quitting help your body rehabilitate itself, but you’ll also find yourself reinvigorated with an appetite for the healthier things in life. It might take some time – and you’ll still probably crave a lot of sugar and salt during early recovery – but as you get used to sobriety, you learn to appreciate the real joys of cooking for yourself, making something equal parts delicious and healthy, and finding yourself yearning for time spent alone exercising, or in a group.
Healthy living isn’t meant to be a chore, but a lifestyle you can maintain for decades. That means finding a way to live a healthy life you can truly love living.
A Real Future
Drug use is prohibitively expensive. Not only does drug use often tend to leave people struggling in debt or, in the worst of cases, reaching out past the law to fuel their obsession, but it’s also accompanied by the bottomless despair that fills you when you realize you’re struggling to see a better tomorrow, or any tomorrow at all.
The hardest part of early recovery is escaping that fear without the use of drugs. But with time, you learn to cope in better ways, and a better life begins to metamorphosize through your sheer efforts. Suddenly, you realize that all the money you’ve been spending previously looking for different highs is now better spent financing a more productive and healthier life, and a better future.
People You’ve Helped
It may be strange to think of being thankful for the things you’ve done for others, but it’s more important to think of it as being thankful for the opportunity to help others. Most people don’t quite realize it the first time around, but it feels good to matter to others. It feels good when people care. When you can look around and see that your life made a difference to others, that cuts deeper than anything ever well. The ability to leave behind a good legacy others will respect and cherish goes far and beyond every possible measure of physical wealth.
And for someone who struggled through the depths of addiction and worked hard to build a life around sobriety, that feeling of helping someone along their own journey can be incredibly rewarding, and it can be a potent way to hold onto and cherish your own sobriety. Giving thanks for the opportunity to matter in someone else’s life lets you reflect on the fact that, more than anything, we’re here to help each other, and it’s through one another that we get through this bizarre journey.