Achieving sobriety is no small feat. Regardless of what addiction you struggle with, finding your footing and pushing through past a potentially painful withdrawal period requires equal measures of willpower and physical fortitude.
After that, it’s onto the pains and challenges of early recovery. Once the withdrawal period ends, you may be faced with emotional and psychological trauma, a difficult past, and a series of responsibilities and financial burdens without appropriate or effective coping mechanisms. Even with friends and family members by your side, you may be facing thoughts of self-doubt and guilt, as well as crippling shame over your past.
Some drugs come with painful post-acute withdrawal symptoms, making it even harder to stay sober several weeks after seeking help or giving up drugs. Not to mention the cravings, which have both a physical and a psychological basis for existing, and all the little things that contribute to the stress and hardships of early recovery.
This is a long and hard road, and anyone who has walked it has every right to be proud for how far they have come so far, regardless of how long it took, or how many times they have stumbled. And for those well on their way, it’s important to look back on how things were at the worst of times and appreciate how much they have improved with the choice to go sober.
But ultimately, while it’s important to be proud, it’s also important to recognize that we are never alone in this. Sobriety is achieved through cooperation and compassion, and for this coming Thanksgiving, it pays to think back on your own story of sobriety and feel thankful for the progress you’ve made through your own effort, as well as those around you.
You’re Stronger and Healthier
One of the best things to be grateful for is a better and stronger body, relative to when you were still addicted. If you’ve chosen exercise as a way to help relieve some stress and stay away from drugs, then you’re on the path to consistently improving yourself and continuously reaping rewards for your sobriety long after initially giving up on drugs – and as time passes, the effects of staying sober continue to pile up, as addiction truly begins to show its effects in old age.
You Will Live Longer
It’s no secret that heavy drug use can drastically cut into your lifespan, but it’s important not to underestimate the body’s capacity for recovery. While smoking will increase your risk of cancer, quitting cigarettes and nicotine can slowly put you on the path towards physical rehabilitation, with the risk of lung cancer in ex-smokers of 10 years dropping to less than a third of what it is for current smokers.
The same goes for many other substances – while your organs might never completely recover, and some risk remains, being sober and staying healthy can help you live much longer in spite of your past.
You Can Think More Clearly
Sobriety can help the brain recover from the long-term negative cognitive effects of heavy drug use. Not only does being sober help you improve mentally, it also nets you the ability to start effectively addressing issues that might have developed as a result of addiction, or were previously hidden by the addiction.
By going sober, you can begin seeking out healthier coping mechanisms, getting professional help for mental health issues, and discovering more about yourself without the haze of drug use.
You’ll Have Fewer Legal Troubles
One can argue whether drug use and possession should or shouldn’t be criminalized, given how closely related addiction is to mental illness and poor mental health – but the reality is that drug use correlates to more run-ins with the law, and in a bad way. From DUIs to possession charges, having an addiction can be extremely pricey in more ways than one. Aside from pure financial costs, there’s also the time and stress of being put through the system, as well as the strain that can cause between family members and loved ones.
You Look Better
Let’s face it – sobriety can do wonders for your complexion. Regardless of what your drug of choice was, heavy drug use takes its toll on your skin, your organs, and your body. Addiction can come with underrating or overeating, and with a host of other poor health choices. Some drugs can lead to obsessive skin-picking, as well as slowed wound healing, and more frequent breakouts. Your hair thins and your teeth suffer under diminished hygiene, the longer an addiction goes on.
Through sobriety, however, you can nurture your skin and body with a balanced diet and better nutrition, you can keep your skin healthy and give it back its natural shine, and you can help your hair get strong and healthy. Not only does sobriety help you be physically attractive, but it also does wonders for your performance – both in and out of bed.
You Can Have a Better Future
Drug use is many things, but it definitely doesn’t lend itself as path towards a long or healthy life. By cutting out addictive drugs and committing fully to sobriety, you create a window for yourself to pursue new goals, grab and maintain employment, secure a career, and even begin helping others walk a similar path.
It’s important never to forget how much of what you’ve achieved in sobriety (and what you have yet to achieve) is a matter of support and love, both the love you have managed to give yourself, and the love you experience from the friends and relatives around you who have continued to support you throughout the recovery process.
Addiction steals many things, not the least of which is time. While you can never have that time back, you can make the most of what time you do have and steer yourself and others away from addiction. Regardless of what your future looks like, it’s likely that it has changed a lot in the time you’ve spent becoming sober, from retaining your employment or landing a new job, to making new friends that support you, while you help support them.
Through sobriety, you can revel in being a part of something greater again – a part of a greater community, and a part of society. You can help others thrive and make better choices and avoid making some of the mistakes you’ve made. You can help others learn through your own experiences and help not only yourself benefit through your stumbles but ensure that they serve a greater purpose for others as well.