When people get into recovery, they commemorate lengths of time spent abstinent, usually starting at the newcomer level, with recognition given for the person experiencing their first days clean or sober, then again at 30 days, and so on. The one year mark is huge for most people, and subsequent anniversaries are also much anticipated and celebrated.
In fact, it’s safe to say that most people in recovery get more excited by the prospect of a recovery birthday, than an actual, or “belly button” birthday.
Why We Celebrate Recovery Anniversaries
For someone in recovery, an anniversary marks time spent free from the horrors of active addiction. Being addicted to substances is like being in prison, at least it was for me. But for me, recovery hasn’t just been about not using anymore, it’s been about living a new way of life. So, when I celebrate my recovery, I’m not just celebrating freedom from active addiction, I’m celebrating my life. This journey of taking back my life and truly living began with treatment.
Addiction takes lives, every day. More people than not can name someone they know who’s been lost to addiction. Perhaps a family member, a friend or a co-worker. While many deaths are obviously a result of addiction, some are less so. The effects of long-term alcohol and drug abuse can kill you quickly, but just as often, the person dies slowly. A large majority of cases of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, liver disease and cancer can be directly linked to alcohol or drug abuse. Add to that vehicle and other accidents and violent crime and it’s easy to see just how destructive this problem really is.
Like so many others, I struggled for years to beat my problem. I experienced loss during my years of active addiction, and the guilt and shame that comes with it. The road to recovery began in a drug detox it was not easy but every step of the way has been rewarded in small or big blessings. I “earned my seat” as we like to say. There were times I got discouraged and felt like I couldn’t continue, but I did. The results have been worth it, and each year, I get to marvel at how far I have come.
Of course, celebrating recovery time isn’t just about acknowledging our own hard work and success. Sure, that’s part of it, but it isn’t the only reason why we make such a big deal of these occasions.
In recovery, we can only keep what we have by giving it away. We continue on our paths of recovery not just for ourselves, but for those that come after us, or have still yet to arrive. When we get up and share our stories, or come up and get a recovery coin that commemorates our time clean and sober, we show others what is possible.
For the new person who may only have a few days of sobriety, the idea that you could go 30 days or six months or a whole year without substances may sound completely unrealistic. When you see someone come up and collect their chip, it shows that you too can stay sober. This is another reason why acknowledging a recovery anniversary is so important.
We’re In It Together
When it comes down to it, I am the only person who can make the daily decision to recommit myself to my recovery and stay sober one more day, but I don’t do it alone. The recovery community is one of the most supportive I have ever known. We come together to celebrate each other’s successes, and support each other in times of need. Most meetings set aside a few minutes at the end to acknowledge recovery time, and whether you are coming up to collect a 30 day chip or a 30 year chip, you are celebrated.
How Do You Celebrate?
Recovery celebrations are sometimes acknowledged in a quiet, personal way, and sometimes the cause for big parties. It really just depends on the person and what their preference is.
Even if you don’t have a party or make a big deal of the day, it’s always good to acknowledge your recovery anniversary. It’s a great day to think about where you have come from, where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It’s also a great time to find ways to give back. You could give a newcomer a ride to a meeting, take on a new sponsee or service commitment, or you could share your story at a meeting.
And, don’t forget to take some time out for self-care. This is an important aspect of recovery. Get a massage or treat yourself to something special. Don’t forget to thank your sponsor!
Our Guest Blogger: Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.