Job promotions, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and retirement are just a few reasons we celebrate during our lives. But for some, celebrating ‘sobriety date anniversaries’ are even more significant. (A “sobriety date” is the first full day when one stopped using drugs/alcohol.) This date carries a lot of powerful meaning and purpose for those on the recovery journey as they recognize how far they have come and an amazing gratitude for life.
For Asia, her one-year sobriety date anniversary at Lower Lights Recovery was a surprise. Her mentor organized a special breakfast with many of her recovery supporters to celebrate the milestone in her journey.
Birthdays, holidays, wedding anniversaries, and graduations can be some of the most difficult times of the year because they bring up past painful memories and emotions that can be a potential trigger to abuse alcohol or drugs in order to numb or lessen the negative emotions associated with those events. One of the unique things about one’s recovery journey is that you can dream up many valid reasons to celebrate, even the small victories such as making it through a dental visit, passing one’s driver’s test again after many years, or celebrating a child’s birthday. Major components to recovery are “honesty, openness, and willingness.” This means learning to create a new life so that the old life does not appeal anymore; learning to forge ahead when it would be easier to give in to old cravings by forming healthy support relationships for accountability and encouragement, learning that it is ok to “feel one’s feelings” and know that feelings pass, learning to ask for help and serving others who are newer on the recovery journey.
Asia was a participant in the Lower Lights Recovery program and has given back into the LLM community by starting an alumni group, volunteering as a sub-group leader. We are so grateful for her desire to give back and her passion in supporting women who are beginning their recovery journey with the same program that served her.
Learning the significance of celebrating sobriety date anniversaries can encourage us to take the time to support our friends and family members during their recovery journey. Loneliness and isolation are key triggers to abusing drugs and alcohol. By celebrating sobriety dates, those in recovery are able to recognize their incredible support network of connected relationships of healthy communities of people in their lives.
Here are 4 reasons by Eudaimonia Recovery Homes why taking a moment to embrace their milestones can be so meaningful and powerful as they are acknowledged and celebrated.
1. Celebrating a sobriety birthday reminds us to be humble.
Every single one of us have done things we’re not proud of and no one is perfect. We should all remember that we didn’t get here on our own. Most of us in recovery probably had a whole group of people supporting us, cheering us on, and providing encouragement and counsel along the way. When we look back at our sobriety birthdays, we should remember that our success is not a reflection of how great we are, rather it is a reflection of all the care and support that was poured into us by others.
2. Celebrating a sobriety birthday gives us an opportunity to thank our mentors and peers.
It would be impossible to celebrate our successes without celebrating our mentors and peers because, without them, we wouldn’t be where we are. If you haven’t ever thanked your mentor, sober coach, or peers for their support, your sobriety birthday is the perfect time to do it. Whether you simply say “thank you,” write a letter or treat them to dinner, it’s important to recognize those who have helped you achieve success in sobriety and who continue to do so daily.
3. Celebrating a sobriety birthday reminds us of what life used to look like and what it looks like now.
Looking back at the days when you were still addicted helps you see how far you’ve come since then. Although recovery is a long and slow process that requires unyielding efforts, you’ve no doubt made some incredible progress spiritually, mentally, and physically. Looking back at those times also reminds us that anything is possible and it’s never too late to change, even if you think there’s no way you can come back from the past.
4. Celebrating a sobriety birthday encourages us to reflect.
Sobriety birthdays also give us an opportunity to reflect on how we’ve grown, what we’re feeling, why we continue to fight for sobriety, how our lives have improved, and the goals we’d like to achieve for ourselves. Your sobriety birthday is a great excuse to discuss these things with your counselor, your family, your support group, or your best friend. In doing so, you may also become a role model or a source of encouragement for someone else who is struggling to maintain their own sobriety.