Practicing Gratitude During Recovery from Addiction is Essential: Here’s Why

June 7, 2021 | recovery

Gratitude is as simple as being thankful.

It is an unfortunate reality that gratitude is something alcohol and drug addiction takes a toll on. Unfortunately, the desire to get drunk or high often takes precedence over the things you’re generally thankful for. You’ll likely even spin into a negative mindset in which you deliberately ignore the good things in your life and focus on the bad in a manner to justify your addiction.

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of recovery is learning to work against the ability to look on the bright side of things. 

Even if addiction is addressed relatively early, it could be hard to program your mind to stop focusing on the negative. It’s worth fighting against, though, as the good things in life are powerful enough to fuel anyone through their recovery, no matter how tough it can be. That’s why we’re here to help you with practicing gratitude through your recovery.

Gratitude is as simple as being thankful.

What is gratitude?

Gratitude is as simple as being thankful. It’s a quality in which you are appreciative of something. For example, the sense of appreciation you feel when someone says something nice to you or holds the door for you is gratitude.

But how do you apply gratitude in such a way to help you through recover? After all, passing comments and general politeness aren’t going to help you with an internal struggle. Well, that’s not exactly true.

Think of how you view the adverse scenarios when you’re struggling with addiction. For example, someone making critical remarks or letting a door slam shut is something you can easily twist to justify your actions. So, even if the little things in life seem rare, focusing on them will ultimately help you work against a toxic mindset.

How can gratitude help with recovery?

Gratitude breeds happiness, and happiness will blossom the contempt level that helps you drive toward recovery.

We admit that it’s challenging to take something as simple as someone opening a door for you and turn it into a definitive force in your journey. But, there’s more to it than just that.

Gratitude is something that you need to practice in every situation. You need to be looking for the good things constantly. Even when life gets tough, you need to focus on it being life nonetheless, and that alone is something to be thankful for.

If you practice it with enough things, all of the good things you notice will add up, and eventually, you’ll have more to be thankful for than you’ll ever know. In addition, over time, you’ll be able to quickly drive away any negative thoughts that fuel your desire to use again.

How can you actively practice gratitude?

It can be hard to learn how to start practicing gratitude. In trying times, such as recovery, it’s easy to go numb to everything other than what’s bad. Even then, there are still things to be grateful for, and we’re here to give you some pointers on how you can focus on them. 

  • Focus on the little things: Don’t only look for big things. Every little thing that’s good is worth focusing on. Small compliments, politeness, someone lending a helping hand, and even something good happening to someone else are all things to be grateful for. 
  • Think about the best and not the worst: When something terrible happens or someone does something wrong, don’t let it overwhelm you. Instead, you should focus on the good things in the scenario. Something like getting a flat tire or someone breaking up with you might seem to have no positive spin. But there is always a silver lining. Think about how them leaving now is better than later or how getting a flat is better than blowing a tire and getting into an accident. 
  • What you have, not what you don’t: Don’t compare your life to others and think about the things they have and you don’t. Think about what you do have and where your life would be without them. Even if it’s just a friend or a job, going without them would make life a lot more complicated. 
  • View challenges as opportunities:  Life is all about self-improvement. Rather than thinking of an adverse situation as a setback, you should view it as the chance to show your worth or build a new skill. With that attitude, you’ll know that anything that happens in life ultimately makes you a better person, which is something to be thankful for.
  • Focus on the things your efforts have bred:  Building gratitude and letting positive thinking run your life has a snowball effect. As they say, positivity breeds positivity. Each passing day will make your life better in one way or another, and you being thankful for the things you’ve accomplished because of your new attitude will only strengthen you more. 

Why practicing gratitude daily is beneficial.

At first, it will be tough to think positively. After all, it’s human nature to focus on problems and blow them out of proportion. It’s not an easy thing to overcome—even for those who aren’t struggling with addiction.

However true that may be, the human mind is like a muscle because it can be trained. You can train your mind to learn anything, and thinking positively is no exception. It will take time, though.

It can be tough to focus on the good things in the early stages of recovery. After all, you are dealing with an unfortunate situation with adverse consequences that can create an overwhelming sense of doubt and negativity.

However, gratitude is already fueling your journey in some way. Perhaps you’re seeking recovery because you don’t want to continue to let a substance abuse disorder run your life. That means you already know life itself is something to appreciate. Or maybe you want to stop allowing your condition to hurt others. That tells us you’re aware that you’re thankful to have the people you love.

By focusing on what’s driving you to recovery, you’re already practicing thinking positively. Learning to apply that to other scenarios will further grow your positive mindset. Finding things to be grateful for daily will ultimately make it easier to remain positive. That builds the foundation and strength you will rely on throughout the remainder of your journey.

Reflecting your gratitude onto others

As you may know, the final step of the 12-step program is service. This step teaches you to carry your message to others. It’s easy to conclude that means you should be reaching out and telling others struggling with substance abuse about how the program helped you.

While that is a way of doing it, it’s essential not to leave out the part about applying the principles of the program to all aspects of your life.

What are the other steps? Honesty, integrity, acceptance, willingness, and forgiveness are just a few. You can apply these to virtually any situation in your life. Service, being means of passing your message to others, is something you can use too.

Reflecting on your gratitude is one way to do that. Think of the things you focus on throughout your journey and how those little random acts of kindness ultimately helped you become a better person. It might seem simple, but an unexpected compliment or holding the door for someone else might ultimately support them on their journey. Knowing you contributed in some way, no matter how small, is something you can be grateful for.

Concluding thoughts: 

Gratitude is a powerful and diverse tool used to build the road to recovery. Your journey is dependent on your ability to think positively. However, you don’t need to build the knowledge on your own as recovery support groups and addiction treatment centers understand the importance of gratitude. So, if you need inspiration, there’s no reason not to lean on these institutions as a source of inspiration.