Updated: Mar 10, 2020
GIFTS OF ADDICTION RECOVERY: Mental Health Awareness
written by, Erica Ives
Bringing awareness to the overlooked
gifts during early recovery
If you are in the early stages of abstinence from using drugs or alcohol, accruing clean and sober time is synonymously referred to as being in recovery from substances or alcohol. The concept of understanding the gifts of addiction recovery may understandably be a difficult concept to grasp so it is important to bring awareness to the overlooked gifts happening during early recovery. If you are further along in your journey of recovery, you may know more of what I am referring to. However, no matter where you are in your recovery, my hopes in writing this blog are to reinforce the fact that the gifts of addiction recovery are truly incredible and possible to obtain.
Being a woman, even before being a therapist, who has been walking on my own journey of addiction recovery, I will never forget the early stages. Some of the reasons I so clearly connect to my early recovery is because I have the honor of helping others struggling with addiction. Another reason is because it easily connects me to the feelings of gratitude and the opportunity to remember the gifts that I have found through addiction. Let me tell you though that the early stages still seemed so dark, with only slight glimmers of light. The memories of what it was like help me to remain grounded, humbled, and in connection to where I have I come from. But, those who lit my path of early recovery continually helped to examine and understand the gifts of recovery that were present when I struggled with witnessing these changes.
The gifts of addiction recovery reveal themselves in many areas of life including the physical, emotional, nutritional, cognitive (thoughts), interpersonal (relationships), vocational (career or job), spiritual, and beyond. For the sake of this blog post, I will simply begin to explore and provide an overview of this concept of the gifts of recovery.
In the early stages of recovery, you may only grasp the concept through the eyes and words of others. It may seem almost impossible to even imagine that you can or even want to live without drugs or alcohol. But one of the earliest gifts of recovery comes from admitting that you may even be struggling. This gift of addiction recovery is honesty. Once you think of getting help or actually seeking help, you are gaining even more gifts of addiction recovery. Some of these gifts include strength, a desire to live differently, hope (even if it is a glimpse), and more.
Often times, early recovery is filled with doubt. We have been consuming substances in a fashion that creates a pattern of necessity and expected ingestion. Physical abstinence includes the communication of your body reminding you that it needs these substances to function based on the habituation of your use. Enduring these early physical and psychological experiences is an early struggle that many find too unbearable to endure, but once you break free of these rigid rituals and walk through those urges, you are connecting to more gifts of addiction recovery and learning what other options are available besides using. I know that at the time, one may not experience this as a gift, but instead a painful punishment, a struggle, and a horrifying experience. That is why it is so important to have someone in your life that can remind you of these successes. With that being said, some of the gifts of addiction recovery include proving to yourself (even if it is for the moment) that you are capable and determined. That you are able to break free of the rigid rules of your addiction and practice flexibility. You may be beginning to feel better physically, such as increased energy or improved sleep. These are additional gifts in early recovery. You may be letting other people in your life and beginning to build trusting relationships. You may be coming back to life and believing that you deserve some of the joys that life has to offer.
The list goes on and on and is so personal for each individual. Please share some of yours or others gifts of addiction recovery. It is so important to reflect on the unique gifts that you have experienced through your own recovery and share with others to give hope those who may still be living in the darkness of an addiction.
If you or someone you know or love may be struggling with an addiction, please utilize the resources listed below to help find support and treatment in your area.
With continued gratitude,
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) - www.aa.org
Narcotics Anonymous (NA) - www.na.org
Cocaine Anonymous (CA) - ca.org
SMART Recovery - www.smartrecovery.org
Codependents Anonymous (CODA) - coda.org
Al-Anon - al-anon.org