There really is no definitive finish line in recovery, just a series of milestones. One of the things we learn early on is that, while we always remain in recovery, we can learn to manage our addiction to the point where it no longer impacts our lives in any significant way. The very thought of “always being in recovery” can be discouraging, as we would all like to put our substance abuse and addiction far behind us and never have to think about it again. Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. Recovery is a lifelong endeavor. We will have much more success if we embrace this concept rather than resist it.
We can, however, learn to recognize our accomplishments and milestones and turn the recovery process into a series of finish lines. Once we get our footing and are comfortable enough to manage the day-to-day tasks associated with the recovery process, we can start to set long-term goals and reward ourselves for achieving them. For each year of sobriety under our belts, we can take a trip or buy something nice for ourselves or even have a simple party in recognition of the milestone we reached. Not only will this help us stay focused on our recovery, it will give us something to strive for in our everyday lives as well.
Each one of our recovery journeys runs the emotional gamut, from jubilation to despair to triumph to loss. We will often experience setbacks and accomplishment in equal measure. Along the way, it can be easy to lose site of exactly what we’re fighting for. A few years go by and many of us may even forget the dysfunction that we experienced during our substance abuse and ask ourselves why we’re doing all this work to simply live a normal life. Unfortunately many of us are only able to answer this question after we relapse. If we keep the good parts of our lives front and center and learn to never take anything for granted, we can avoid falling into this trap.
We are all strong, vibrant and amazing people. Sometimes it helps to stop and recognize these qualities in our own selves, and reward ourselves accordingly. This helps to make the recovery process more enjoyable and maintaining a healthy and rich quality of life.