Whether you’re new to sobriety or an old-timer, sometimes you need to be reminded of how beautiful it is to be clean and sober. Early in your recovery, you may have experienced the "pink cloud" effect due to your newfound freedom and peace. Maybe there was a palatable excitement about recovery and the journey ahead. Remember how you couldn’t stop telling people how you’ve changed? Yet, as with all things, maybe this too has passed. And life is in full session—both the good and the bad.
It’s so easy to get blindsided by the three horsemen: money, property, and prestige. Many addicts and alcoholics have been taken off the course in their pursuit because of these things. Recovery then takes a back seat and you think, “I’ve got this.” However, approaching sobriety in this way can make you prey to restlessness, depression, and a false sense of self that could be a relapse in waiting. Finding balance is the key. When life feels a bit heavy, reflect on these 7 gifts of an alcohol and drug-free life.
1. You are Present for Life
No matter what challenges you face today, just remember: you’re sober and that means you’re one of the winners. Getting high was a job and it required everything you had. But today you are free and have the opportunity to make good choices. You no longer have to make excuses or disappear because you decided to go on a bender, one more time. Today, you are able to live with love, compassion, and understanding.
2. You are Able to Know Yourself
When you’re getting high, there’s really not much time to discover who you really are. The person that you thought you were is also probably far from the truth. The recovery process lets you shed those false personas, allowing you to become who and what you are meant to be. By being clean and sober, you become open to your greatest truth and have the honor of being your best self—one-day-at-a-time.
3. You Have Freedom From the Past
Many alcoholics and addicts drank and used to escape the past. Maybe you were abused as a child or suffered other traumas. Perhaps you did things you swore you’d never do or tell anybody. Remember all the people you hurt? Once you commit to recovery, the horrors of the past lose their grip. And they don’t have to be the things that determine who you are now.
4. You Learn to Say “No”
Finally, you don’t have to “people please” anymore. In sobriety you learn to use the word “no” and it will become your best friend. You don’t have to act because you feel pressured, anxious, or nervous. Instead, you can pause when you’re unsure, ask for guidance if you need to, and say “no” without feeling guilty.
5. You Are Connected to a Higher Power
The recovery process is a spiritual journey. It’s about developing a relationship with a higher power or a God of your own understanding. Even atheists have found ways to embrace this idea. Today, you get to be a seeker in your own spiritual unfoldment. You learn how to align your will with your higher power. And most importantly, you discover the power of faith through surrender.
6. You Give Back to Those in Need
Doing service work takes your mind off of yourself and your problems. It can be any type of volunteer work—just helping others is medicine to the soul. The 12th step is a statement of gratitude for your life and a call to help others. The trials you’ve gone through have put you in a position to be an inspiration to someone else. Now, when you feel troubled or baffled by life, you can make a commitment at a meeting, speak on an H&I panel (hospitals and institutions), or volunteer in your neighborhood. These are the gifts of recovery that heal and set you free.
7. You Have a Spiritual Toolkit
Drinking and drugging once translated to a life of personal lawlessness, not to mention the mountain of consequences that followed. One of the best gifts in recovery is receiving your own personal spiritual toolkit. In this kit you learn that it’s okay to be powerless, to admit your faults to another, to take an inventory of your life, and to help others. These are the tools of freedom. And it’s not something you can buy. It’s a process that you avail yourself to through honesty, openness, and willingness.