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What Role Does Gratitude Play in Addiction Recovery?

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Addiction recovery is an arduous process, and its intense emotions and trials can be incredibly isolating. However, the ever-present positive influence of others also plays a vital role and impacts an individual’s recovery journey. Trusted friends, family members, professionals, and peers encountered in recovery play an influential role in shaping one’s success in sobriety. The expression of this gratitude for others is a genuine and powerful act. Gratitude is much more than saying “thank you” to those who have positively impacted your life and recovery. Instead, it is a powerful, practiced skill essential for cultivating meaningful relationships while maintaining motivation and determination to continue pursuing goals in sobriety and beyond. 

What Is Gratitude?

Gratitude is a common word, but the actual breadth of its definition can be surprising. Gratitude is any notion or action that seeks to communicate thankfulness or gives back to a source for making a positive impact. While this can most commonly take the form of saying “thank you” for friendly or uplifting gestures, it is also possible to show gratitude to oneself for working towards personal goals. The ability to identify these positive acts and articulate gratitude is where its power comes from, opening the doors to continue facilitating positivity and change in an individual’s newfound sober life. 

Identifying Positive Actions 

One of the most challenging aspects of expressing gratitude is identifying when others are going out of their way to provide critical support or guidance when needed. Those suffering from addiction can feel riddled with stress, anxiety, depression, or other emotionally taxing feelings that compromise their ability to view the world around them objectively. A cloud of negativity can permeate one’s thoughts and obscure otherwise positive influences that support ongoing sobriety. Relinquishing these negative feelings and identifying things to be grateful for is essential in changing one’s mindset into a powerful force of positivity. Embracing gratitude-focused strategies is crucial for a healthy perspective in an ongoing recovery effort. 

Find a Strategy That Works for You

While no single strategy will work for every person, there are a few ways to practice identifying gratitude daily. For some, gratitude journals can be an excellent catalyst for embracing positive thoughts in life while helping identify the supports that consistently make the most positive impact. Gratitude journals can take many forms—from physical journals that an individual writes in each night, digital formats such as a computer to type out thoughts, and making notes on their phone while out and about in their day. Taking a moment to reflect upon positivity each given day can help reframe the mind towards gratitude rather than succumbing to pervasive negative emotions during recovery. 

The use of these gratitude journals forces an individual to think of anything that provided support or assistance throughout the day, no matter how small or grandiose the action may have seemed. Whether successfully employing an escape strategy from unexpected high-risk scenarios to holding a door open while a stranger carried groceries, being able to reframe the day through these efforts of positivity can have a far-reaching effect on motivation and confidence. 

Speak Your Thanks

Making an effort to speak thanks is also crucial in normalizing the expression of gratitude. No matter how insignificant a particular gesture may be, normalizing gratitude can create a consistent source of hope. This practice can help illuminate a new, happier, healthier view of an individual’s environment and progress on their recovery journey amid potential difficulties. However, making an effort to express gratitude has several other benefits: 

First, it can help each individual further develop their best communication strategies. Expressing gratitude comes in many forms, from verbally thanking someone to writing letters, cards, emails, or sending a text message. Others may find more creative or artistic ways to give thanks, while some even take it upon themselves to return with gestures of their own, such as cooking dinner, giving gifts, or other actions. Exploring how one expresses gratitude helps each individual develop their own best communication strategies while nurturing important relationships and a changing perspective. 

Further, by normalizing the idea of expressing thanks for even small gestures, individuals can better recognize their works and progress in themselves. It can be easy to overlook how many small changes individuals make in their daily battles with recovery, and maintaining sobriety entails many moving parts. By recognizing small gestures and expressing gratitude towards others, individuals can identify these same elements in themselves and truly highlight the progress made towards their own sober goals. 

Gratitude is a powerful force in your journey through recovery and finding things to be thankful for can be the catalyst to a happier, healthier perspective. Whether you are just taking your first steps into recovery through one of our detox programs or are looking to further develop your sober lifestyle in residential or outpatient care, we at Pacific Sands Recovery Center in Santa Ana, California, are ready to help you recognize and express the power of gratitude today. We offer an array of personalized programming, each of which is customized to your unique needs and goals, all while establishing a safe and supportive atmosphere for peers and professionals alike. We can help you begin your journey with sobriety and recognize the impact that others play in your journey to embrace a supportive atmosphere of gratitude for your sober life ahead. To speak to us about your unique situation, call us today at (714) 492-1119.

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  • I would just like to share how Grateful I am with my experience through my addiction at this facility. I couldn’t possibly ask to be in such a “SAFE/COMFORTABLE” environment while receiving treatment for my addiction. I would just like to say Thank you sooo much to ALL the staff there from the Nurse’s to counselors and therapist all of you are a True Blessing in helping me through my journey of sobriety. I couldn’t feel more comfortable there on how they monitored my physical health and on dealing with my emotional health with there therapy sessions and groups I truly see them ALL as Family!

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