Safely Celebrating Milestones in Recovery
Milestones, we reach them frequently in recovery, but how can we safely celebrate them? If you’re in recovery from addiction to drugs or alcohol, you may find celebrating more of a challenge than a celebration. Emotions run high and the risk of relapse is increased if your celebration brings you to places or events that may otherwise trigger a relapse. However, you have reached a MAJOR milestone—whether it’s 7 days sober, 30 days sober, or 1 YEAR sober. You deserve to celebrate—but we want you to stay safe too!
Important Milestones in Recovery
As you progress through your recovery journey, you will inevitably reach various milestones along the way. Celebrating each milestone is encouraged, as long as you can find safe celebration activities! You may want to celebrate any, or all, of the following milestones in recovery:
- (Don’t celebrate too much here because you are VERY much at risk still for relapse in the early days of recovery. However, you can pat yourself on the back for making it through a day—it’s a HUGE step that you MUST take in order to remain sober long term! Congratulations!)
- (At this point, you have likely made it past many of the physical symptoms of withdrawal and you’re definitely on your way to success! Celebration of this important recovery milestone is warranted but must be taken cautiously as you are still at risk of relapse. Congratulations on reaching 1 week!)
- (Celebrate, but still do so with caution as you are likely still VERY fragile. However, you’re doing it! And that is what matters most!)
- (WOW! At this point, you should really be considering a big celebration of your efforts. After 90 days, your body really begins to accept the new you, the SOBER you. Your relapse risk is going down with each day and your confidence should be emerging. Congratulations are in store!)
- (After six months of sobriety you should really be feeling confident in your recovery and your risk of relapse should be continuing to diminish. While there are always going to be risks, you’ve made it this far and you should certainly safely celebrate this recovery milestone! You should be VERY proud of yourself!)
- (At this point, you must remember that there are always risks but you have worked very hard to get here and you deserve a celebration. One year sober is a major accomplishment. Your amazing ability to overcome challenges and persevere have led you here! Safely celebrate this recovery milestone when you reach it!)
- (At the five-year mark, you should celebrate for sure, but chances are you aren’t really paying much attention to your sober birthday anymore. At this point, so many elements of your life have changed for the better. Remain cautious always but let yourself have some fun today! You deserve every minute of it! Congratulations on your recovery!)
You may find other milestones to celebrate as you recover. Maybe you have a small celebration for the daily wins, or for each clean substance abuse evaluation you go through, or for making amends with friends or family members that were hurt by your substance abuse. Celebrating life, and the wins you attain as you journey through recovery, is an important behavior to participate in but please do so with caution! In addition to the time milestones in recovery, there are major accomplishments that you will likely want to celebrate. Consider also celebrating:
- When you are no longer PHYSICALLY dependent on drugs or alcohol.
- When you find a steady job after being unemployed or underemployed as a result of your addiction.
- When you achieve a personal goal such as finding a new friend or taking up a new hobby. Celebrations are a part of life and it’s important to learn how to have fun and celebrate as a sober individual.
- Accomplishments with your mental health. Perhaps you have found a new strategy to properly cope with a mental health issue or maybe you have finally accepted that you need further treatment for a mental health problem—celebrate your success in healing!
- New relationships that are healthy and conducive to your continued sobriety.
- Weight loss, weight gain or other physical health changes that are important to you.
Recovery apps like Pocket Rehab help you to keep track of recovery milestones as you check in each day you are sober. You can also connect with friends or others in recovery through the app. Use it to plan your next recovery milestone celebration!
Safe Celebrations in Recovery
Now that you have a long list of times when it’s okay to celebrate or when you should be celebrating, it is important to ensure your celebrations are SAFE! Safe celebrations will grow on you as you continue through recovery, but in the early stages, it may seem weird or out of place to just have some ice cream or go out for pizza as a celebration. For years you have likely celebrated in other ways. For most addicts, celebrations mean heavy use of drugs or alcohol to “have fun.” As the drugs and alcohol take over, we lose our insight into the simple elements of life that are really worth celebrating and that really are FUN! It will take time, but you will learn how to have fun without the drugs or alcohol that may have nearly ruined your life. There are so many ways to celebrate. Here are a few suggestions:
- Get together with friends or family. Any time spent with family and friends should be considered a good time. Remember that we don’t truly know how much time we have with anyone important person in our lives—enjoy your time!
- Have a cookout and enjoy some outdoor fun. Major recovery milestones are especially fun when you organize a get together with important people in your life and include good, home cooked (or grilled) food!
- Travel to an exotic place—or just to somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. Seeing the world, and enjoying the earth’s natural beauty is always a great opportunity to reflect on how far you have come and to dream of your future.
- Spend time focusing on your gratitude or recovery journal. Although a small celebration, don’t forget to document your feelings on this important day. Whether you are celebrating 1 days sober or 5 years sober, the fact that you made it this far is a HUGE win for you!
- Go out to eat. Before you celebrated with drugs or alcohol, you likely celebrated with food! As you work toward a sober lifestyle, consider adding food back in as your means of a celebratory event. You can go to your favorite restaurant or somewhere new that you’ve wanted to go to. Or, consider making a meal at home with a loved one.
- Donate to a charitable cause of your choice. Making donations to an important cause is a great way to give back to the community and will make you feel good about what you did.
- Have ice cream or another sweet treat with friends. If sweets aren’t your thing, consider a hot treat or something sour to get the taste buds fired up.
- Go to an amusement park. Nothing gets the endorphins flowing like a trip to an amusement park when you can ride thrilling rides and enjoy all the treats the park has to offer.
The world is full of great things to see and do. Celebrating sober will continue to grow on you as your sobriety develops into a lifestyle.
We’ve provided a number of milestones to celebrate and methods of celebrating safely. When you choose your fun, just remember the following:
- Avoid celebrating at places that may trigger relapse. Especially early on in your recovery. If you’re recovering from alcoholism, you probably shouldn’t celebrate at a restaurant that features a full bar.
- Avoid friends or family members that you used drugs or alcohol with. If you’re having a cookout, you may choose to invite just a small close group of friends to keep triggers low.
- Remain cautious but have fun! Your recovery milestone is a huge accomplishment. It’s important to have fun, but always remain cautious as to your risks.
Connect with others through Pocket Rehab and celebrate recovery milestones one day at a time!
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