Moving from addiction into recovery is a journey and that journey has milestones along the way. The destination of the journey may change several times, as more and more of the path we want to travel is revealed to us. In fact, it’s more a journey of discovery than recovery (although it can be both).
Celebrating those milestones is an important part of the recovery process. It provides an opportunity to reflect on the progress we’ve made and to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that has gone into achieving the milestone. Celebrating success can also help to build confidence and motivation, making it easier to continue on the path to recovery.
The milestones themselves can be big or small, momentous, or trivial, depending on your perspective. I think I mentioned in a previous article the first time I had a laugh in recovery, safe fun, where no one got hurt, no laws were broken but I was laughing and joking and enjoying myself. That in many ways was a trivial milestone but to me it was important. I’ve also had other milestones, my first job, home, getting married, becoming a father.
Another was being asked for advice by a family member. That helped to change my view of me. To be asked for advice when most of my life was spent justifying or apologising or lying or causing worry to others was a momentous milestone for me but may have not been noticed by the family member as significant.
You will have similar milestones and it would be good to take a moment and reflect on what they might be and to think of you might mark that, or even celebrate it.
There are many ways to celebrate milestones in recovery, and the type of celebration will depend on the person and their preferences. Some people may choose to celebrate with family and friends, while others may prefer a more private celebration.
Some ideas for celebrating milestones in recovery include:
1. Going out for a special meal in a favourite restaurant or make a home cooked meal to mark the occasion.
2. Plan a day trip to a nearby location that you have been wanting to visit.
3. Treat yourself, go the cinema, take a walk (alone or with others), do something out of the ordinary, have a sauna or arrange a spa day.
4. Start a new hobby or try out a new activity that you have been interested in but have not had the time to pursue.
5. Give back to others by volunteering your time and skills to a cause that is important to you.
It’s not just individuals that can mark milestones along the recovery journey, institutions and organisations can too. I was once invited by a rehab to attend their annual get together and write an article for them on the event.
There were around a 150 people in attendance, ex-residents and their families and close friends too. Before we all sat down to eat and to chat, we a “recovery roll-call” which invited people to stand up, say where they had travelled from to be there today and to say how long they had been in recovery. There were people from all over the country and people who had from 18 hours to 30 years in recovery.
No matter how you choose to celebrate, it is important to take the time to acknowledge your progress and to be proud of your achievements. Celebrating success can help to build confidence, motivation, and a sense of purpose, helping you to stay focussed on your recovery goals and the road of discovery that lays ahead.