Reasons You Should Be Celebrating Sobriety MilestonesGet Help Now
Anyone who has struggled with alcohol use will tell you how hard it is to achieve sobriety. It’s a long and challenging journey to initial sobriety, and then comes the everyday challenge of staying sober. This alone is a great reason to be celebrating sobriety milestones; you’ve achieved something great.
At Archstone Behavioral Health, we’re proud to operate what we believe to be the best treatment center Lantana Florida has to offer. We’ve seen the journey to sobriety and abstinence manifold, and celebrating milestones along the way has always proven useful. It’s the kind of pat on the back we all deserve, and the subtle push to keep moving forward. It goes much deeper than that, too, as we’ll see today.
What are sobriety milestones?
First things first, what are sobriety milestones? You’ll get many different answers to this question, as it tends to depend on what people consider milestones.
For some, the day they finished taking alcohol withdrawal medication is a day to remember; the day when they first stood on their feet and overcame withdrawal. For others, the day they completed their rehabilitation matters more; the day they began their new life. Others will note the day they last drank any alcohol and consider months and years of sobriety as milestones.
The truth is, every achievement on the road to recovery and abstinence is a sobriety milestone. Consider how wide the term can be:
- Sobriety milestones; the time you’ve remained sober
- Therapy-related milestones; the days when you first achieved your therapies’ or medications’ purpose and stood on your own
- Personal milestones; the days when you first overcame your personal fears and concerns, mended important relationships, and so on
Any and all such milestones matter, if they matter to you.
Which milestones are actually important?
Perhaps you believe you shouldn’t be celebrating sobriety milestones of all kinds. You may be thinking you should only celebrate the important ones.
There’s a tiny bit of truth in that; celebrating every little thing may give you a false sense of achievement. For some people, this may indeed be detrimental, so it’s logical to be wary. Your therapists and support groups may say so too, and help you avoid this uncommon pitfall.
However, who can say what’s actually important? Frankly, only you can. What you take pride in, as a personal achievement, is an important milestone. What you feel you owe gratitude to yourself for achieving is important.
In short, don’t fall into the trap of overlooking your own achievements because they might seem small. What may be easy for others may have been hard for you, for any reason – and that makes it important.
Reasons you should be celebrating sobriety milestones
Why should you celebrate such milestones, specifically? There’s plenty of scientific literature behind this, as we’ll see next. For the moment, let us outline the most important reasons you may immediately feel for yourself.
#1 It builds up your self-efficacy
Initially, any kind of celebration of your achievements should give you confidence. You’ve reached an important milestone, and that’s direct proof to yourself that you’re making progress through your own strength.
This has immense value, in that it directly boosts self-efficacy. Reminders of small and large achievements should work wonders for your confidence. If you’ve achieved this much, the future can only be bright.
#2 It keeps you productive
At the same time, this psychological reminder tends to keep individuals productive. When doubt might slip through, celebrating a milestone often keeps us on the right track to self-growth.
Consider the skills and interests you may have cultivated during your recovery, for instance, or the friends you may have made or regained along the way. Your celebrations will often involve one or both, and this alone can keep you productive when you feel down.
#3 It helps you share your journey and mend relationships
How everyone celebrates these small moments does differ, of course. Some choose to just treat themselves, which also works wonders on one’s psychological well-being. If you’re celebrating sobriety milestones with others, however, it’s an excellent opportunity to socialize and rebuild your circles.
When you specifically get together with loved ones over sobriety milestones, your achievements become the central point. These occasions give you an opportunity to share your journey, and confirm your resilience to others. Through both, you can begin to mend relationships your struggles may have strained.
#4 It cultivates self-love and instills gratitude
Socialization is only one part of it, however. Even if you celebrate these precious moments by yourself, they’re still an excellent opportunity for introspection. Much like resolutions, they help catalog your journey and make you appreciate your achievements.
It’s not uncommon for those who have struggled with addiction of any kind to be too hard on themselves. Feelings of guilt are often to blame, and a lack of self-love only follows. In such cases, simply reminding yourself of how far you’ve come may help you appreciate your own strength and be grateful for your progress.
#5 It drives you forward
Finally, recognizing how far you’ve come may be the slight push forward you need. Psychology explains this, as we’ll see next, but we all appreciate some well-deserved self-congratulations where appropriate.
Indeed, especially if you’re struggling to maintain sobriety, looking back can offer some very valuable insight. Having milestones to celebrate means you’ve already completed a very difficult journey, because you could. And if you’ve come so far, why stop here?
The psychology of celebrating sobriety milestones
Now, you may be wondering if all these benefits are actually true. The internet is full of people making flimsy claims, including even our peers.
Rest assured, this isn’t just an article seeking to comfort you. It’s not just our personal, anecdotal experience that drives it either. Science confirms this practice’s psychological benefits, which we may break down into three distinct parts.
Milestones and resolutions
First, milestones share much of their core with the psychology of New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions work because, as Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, explains, “the New Year serves as a cyclical marker of time during which we reevaluate and take inventory on our lives”. This “punctuation in time”, she continues, is what drives resolutions.
Functionally speaking, that’s exactly what milestones achieve as well. By giving you a specific time marker, they allow for the same psychological mechanisms as resolutions to take hold.
Milestones and recovery capital
Similarly, recognizing and celebrating milestones works wonders for one’s recovery capital. This is what Robert Granfield and William Cloud define as “the volume of internal and external assets to initiate and sustain recovery from severe alcohol or other drug problems.”
In our case, “sustain” is the key word. Recovery capital drives self-efficacy and cements recovery outcomes. Your own self-love and gratitude serve as “internal assets”, while mended social circles serve as “external” ones.
Milestones and self-efficacy
And finally, celebrating sobriety milestones directly enhances self-efficacy by boosting your confidence and sense of achievement. The American Psychological Association (APA) defines self-efficacy as “an individual’s belief in his or her capacity to execute behaviors necessary to produce specific performance attainments.”
How would you best describe this, if not as belief in oneself? Self-efficacy is the sum of self-confidence and self-recognition, and sobriety milestones are ideal for boosting both. As such, self-efficacy is also vital toward maintaining abstinence and sobriety. The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) confirms this in no uncertain terms, too, attributing better recovery outcomes to it.
Celebrating sobriety milestones safely
Now that you know the potential benefits of celebrating all your important victories, another factor bears noting. How should you be celebrating?
There are many, many ways to do so. Consider such examples as:
- Treating yourself to something you wouldn’t normally get yourself. Satisfying your small everyday desires is perfectly fine and productive, and it’s a potent kind of self-incentive.
- Enjoying a night in town. By yourself or with loved ones, you may go to the movies, dine somewhere new, enjoy a casual stroll, and more. All such activities can be highly therapeutic given the occasion.
- Exploring the great outdoors. On your own or with friends and family, you may go hiking, have a picnic, and more. Especially if rehabilitation has given you the drive to exercise, such outings can be very fitting.
- Fueling your hobbies. If you’ve picked new hobbies, you may specifically focus on them to celebrate. You may buy yourself some new equipment, join a club, see a match, and more, depending on your newfound hobbies.
- Helping others. If you’ve joined an alumni program, you may even take a moment to guide and motivate others who are now going through the same journey you conquered. For many, this is among the best ways to reaffirm themselves and use their experiences.
How exactly you choose to make these moments meaningful is genuinely up to you. Options abound, as you can see.
However, no matter what you choose, you should always be celebrating sobriety milestones safely. Whether you still feel unsure about yourself or simply want to feel comfortable, it’s wise to take precautions.
#1 Avoid alcohol
First and foremost, you should strive to stay away from alcohol. If you happen to time your celebrations with such family gatherings as Thanksgiving, alcohol may be present. And while a glass or two may be fine for some, it’s generally best to avoid temptation – especially if you’re still not confident in your ability to maintain sobriety.
#2 Stay away from stressful situations and triggers
Beyond alcohol specifically, you will also want to avoid generally stressful situations. As we’ve covered before, stress and relapse are connected, so you should always be mindful of possible discomfort. Identify stress triggers and iron out avoidance and management tools with your therapists, and put this knowledge in action.
#3 Maintain a support group around you
Lastly, while it won’t always be in your hand, you should try to socialize with support groups – especially early on. Friends you may have made in sober living homes are particularly fit for this stage, and so are your loved ones who have participated in family therapy with you. Being around people who can be discreet and mindful, and know exactly what you may need, offers a substantial safeguard.
Approaching day-to-day sobriety to your next milestone
It’s not always easy to maintain sobriety – and this we understand well. Thinking about celebrating sobriety milestones may not suffice for everyone.
So, here we’d like to briefly outline some ways you may help yourself reach your next milestone. For each one, we’ll also present our past content for you to read at your leisure if you need deeper insights into the subject.
#1 Find stress relievers
Everyday stress can really take its toll if left unattended. Stress relievers can work wonders toward alleviating long-term discomfort, and preventing a potential relapse.
Stress relievers can include pet ownership, meditation, walks in nature, and much more. You should ideally discuss your options with your therapists, so you can engage in therapeutic practices throughout the day.
#2 Embrace spirituality
A large component of one’s recovery capital lies in spirituality. We’ve touched on the importance of spirituality in alcohol rehab before, and so have Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) over the years.
Spirituality is highly personal, of course, and may not overlap with religion. Where you find it and how you embrace it depends entirely on you and your journey, too. Still, if your journey has led you to introspection and contemplation, spirituality is a tremendous asset toward self-growth and self-efficacy.
#3 Stay active
Alongside the mind and spirit comes the body. There’s an array of benefits in staying active in recovery, including boosting one’s confidence and improving mental health.
If you can, you should likely strive to maintain an active lifestyle as you celebrate sobriety milestones post-rehab. Aside from its inherent benefits to mind and body, it can also present great opportunities for socialization. It can keep you on a path to self-improvement, which is exactly what many of us need.
#4 Mend your relationships
For that matter, all journeys are best accompanied by supportive friends and loved ones. As you improve and maintain sobriety, rebuilding and repairing your relationships may be the best gift you can give yourself.
The benefits of socialization should be self-evident, but there’s so much more to this step. Accepting the forgiveness of your loved ones may be all you need to open up to self-forgiveness, for instance. Having the support of your loved ones back will boost your own recovery capital, too. And as you rebuild bridges, you will also allow your loved ones to meaningfully contribute to your journey.
#5 Hone your post-addiction life skills
Finally, beyond all else, there’s an array of life skills you learn after recovery. Whatever your circumstances or path in life may be, honing them should help you thrive and prevent a relapse.
Rehab’s key lessons include creating healthy habits, sticking to productive routines, managing time and stress, and more. By your journey’s end, you’ll likely have embraced the importance of your own emotions and the value of self-care. Putting these skills to practice may be the ultimate gift you deserve to give yourself.
Celebrating sobriety milestones; every victory is a step forward
Maintaining sobriety is no small task. The journey to recovery is not easy, either. Studies find that less than 42% of the individuals who enter treatment for drug and alcohol abuse complete it. Relapse is fairly common, as studies find relapse rates between 40 and 60% across all substances.
As such, completing your initial journey and achieving sobriety is an achievement worth celebrating. You should never underestimate how far you’ve come, even if the milestone seems small to others. Congratulating yourself is highly important, and it’s the kind of self-recognition we all need at times to keep moving forward.
At Archstone Behavioral Health, we’re no strangers to alcohol addiction and the struggles of maintaining sobriety. We’ve seen many such journeys, from start to finish, and understand each one has its unique needs and challenges. If you’d like to discuss yours, discreetly and professionally, we’re here for you. Please, feel free to contact us today and let us know how we can help you thrive.