Why It’s So Important to Celebrate Sobriety Milestones
Weddings, anniversaries, graduations, job promotions, retirement, weight loss and birthdays – these are just a few of the occasions that are celebrated in the course of a life. Parties or dinners are given in honor of significant achievements and milestones. And it is a very healthy practice.
But when a person finishes time spent recovering from drug or alcohol addiction, they may be hesitant to make a big fuss. It could be that they are afraid that they won’t be able to stay sober or that they won’t be able to live up to other people’s expectations – or even their own.
Yet, celebrations are important. They salute how far a person has come. Regardless of the challenges ahead, the territory covered during rehab and recovery represents a key milestone in their story. And milestones become meaningful and powerful as they are acknowledged.
Support groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous make a big deal out of milestones. Whether they are recognizing a single day of sobriety or an entire year, the groups take note and mark the event. Often specially colored chips are awarded. Having an accountability group which recognizes each achievement can help recovering addicts from having just one drink or snort or smoke because doing so would mean they must re-set their sobriety calendar.
Celebrating each milestone (a week of sobriety, return to work or school, etc.) along the way helps individuals see, in tangible measure, the progress they are making. It isn’t important how large the celebration is or how elaborate, but it is important that celebrations take place. If passive events such as another year of life are worthy of cards, cake, balloons and confetti, then certainly hard-won achievements such as sobriety deserve attention too.
The other reason that these kinds of mile-marker occasions are valuable is that they give the person an opportunity to thank those who have come along to help them reach each goal. It’s an important part of recovery to recognize that there are others in each life who help make successes happen. Taking the time to thank those individuals is a healthy step.
In the end, if friends and families would never think of missing a birthday, graduation or anniversary, they need to add sobriety steps to the list of important events. The person in recovery needs to be willing to look back and give thanks for how far he or she has come. Together, the next milestone can be reached and celebrated.
Celebrate the positive moments. It is a great defense when the moments of struggle show up unannounced.