Today, celebrating is almost synonymous with going out for drinks or throwing a party (with drinks). Birthdays, promotions, anniversaries, just the simple fact that it’s Friday… these are all cues for people to go out, get a good buzz going, and party with their friends. But this isn’t the case for a sobriety birthday.
Celebrating sobriety is very important. It shows you that your efforts and accomplishments are appreciated while simultaneously keeping you motivated to stay clean and sober. Obviously, going out for drinks is completely counterproductive (to say the least) to your recovery. So how do you celebrate?
The Importance of Celebrating Sobriety
Recovery can change your life for the better from the moment you start out on your journey. It helps rebuild strength and purpose, allows you to be healthier and happier, mends relationships, and just gives you your life back. But that doesn’t mean it’s all green lights and blue skies 24/7. Recovery is hard sometimes. So maintaining your sobriety for one year, two years, or twenty years is something worth celebrating.
Celebrating Sobriety Feels Good
Feeling appreciated is important, regardless of whether or not you’re in recovery. It has to do with something called relational value. Relational value is essentially the extent to which you feel important, valued, and appreciated by people we deem to be important in our lives. These people can be our loved ones, friends, coworkers, employers, etc. However, it’s important to acknowledge that someone doesn’t have to be close to us to be important. For example, in recovery, we may feel especially valued when the other people in our fellowship meetings – whether we know them on a personal level or not – give us approval or praise. Being congratulated by others as you accept a one-year chip at a meeting speaks to our relational value.
Relational value is argued by social psychologist Mark Leary as the root of self-esteem. Self-esteem is incredibly important in recovery. Most addicts have very low self-esteem. It’s something that is worked on in recovery. High self-esteem will help a person stay sober, motivated, and happy. So, we can look at it as a kind of cycle. Celebrating our sobriety milestones stimulates our relational value, which increases our self-esteem, which helps us stay sober, which leads to more sobriety milestones… and the cycle keeps repeating.
You are also an important person to yourself. You don’t have to involve a lot of other people in order to celebrate your sobriety. If you celebrate and appreciate yourself, your self-esteem (and self-worth) will increase. It may not exactly be relational value, but valuing yourself is just as important.
Celebrating Keeps You Motivated
As psychologist B.F. Skinner so kindly consolidated for us, you’re more likely to repeat a behavior if it’s reinforced. Addicts prove this everyday. An addict who uses a drug and experiences a euphoric high is more likely to use that drug again to repeat that high. Of course, there’s more to it than that what with the way addiction changes brain chemistry, causes other health problems, and keeps people down. But you get the picture. A celebration is also a reinforcer. Celebrating your sobriety essentially reinforces being sober. So, recovered addicts are more likely to stay sober if their efforts are acknowledged and appreciated by both themselves and others.
Ways to Celebrate Your Sobriety Birthday:
There are so many things to look forward to in recovery – sobriety milestones being just one of those. But you have to take that first step towards recovery in order to get there.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, New Start can help. Call us at 855-737-7363 or reach out to us on our live chat so that we can help you take that step into recovery.