Ten Great Things About Long-Term Sobriety
One of the things that I love about my sobriety is that it continually gets better with time. Sure the first few years were nice because I could get my life back on track and create healthy habits. But honestly, the more time that goes by, the more I love living a life of sobriety. Things were not always easy at the beginning of my journey, and I had my fair share of ups and downs like anyone else. Despite all of this, I was able to keep pushing through, and now I will be celebrating my ninth year of sobriety this next May.
I was unsure how things would go and how long I wanted to remain sober in the beginning stages of recovery. Throughout my journey through sobriety, I have found several benefits of living a life of recovery. Below are my personal top ten favorite things about living a life of long-term sobriety.
1. I no longer think about addiction all of the time.
The first few days of recovery, all I could think about was alcohol. I had cravings and withdrawal symptoms, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay sober or not. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to get help from addiction professionals at a treatment center that helped me get through those early days. I am glad that they did because when I look back on those times, I see how it was a foundation for the life I live now. These days I hardly think about my past. There are times that I reflect upon it to grow and give thanks for where I am at now, but for the most part, I have been able to leave it behind.
2. I have been able to move on from my past.
The past used to haunt me regularly; I would often think about things that I had said or done that brought me shame. Because of this, I would usually drink to help me forget about the terrible things in my past. While this may have allowed me to forget things temporarily, it often caused me to say and do things that I regretted and caused me to drink more. It was an awful cycle of self-destruction that I am grateful I was able to leave behind. During my addiction treatment, I learned how to confront my past, learn from it, and move forward.
3. I have rebuilt the trust of my loved ones.
My addiction caused me to break the trust of the people who loved me the most. I would often lie and not follow through on my word. It took some time for me to heal all of the brokenness that I had caused with my family, but now that I have, it is a great feeling to know that I have earned back my loved ones’ trust. Having worked so hard to regain my integrity, I never want to make the mistake of destroying it again.
4. I have worked past all of my legal problems.
My relationship with alcohol created a lot of problems. I ended up going to jail and landed myself on probation a couple of times through my drinking years. It makes me cringe to think how much time and money I wasted during my life because of my poor choices that led me to fall into the legal system. I have since paid off all my debts, complied with all my court orders, and finally closed that chapter of my life. I am grateful that I no longer have to worry about getting arrested or catching a charge because of my drinking.
5. I have built a wonderful life for myself.
If you had told me ten years ago that I would someday be a homeowner, mother of two, and married to my best friend, I would have laughed. Sure all of those things would have sounded wonderful to me at the time, but possible? Well, that’s another story. The thing is, there is no way I would have been able to gain all of these things if I were still drinking. Alcohol and I had a pretty dysfunctional and toxic relationship, and I do so much better when I stay as far away from it as I can.
6. I have achieved all of my goals and then set more.
Towards the end of my treatment, I sat down and listed long-term and short-term goals that I wanted to work on after completing my program. I am happy to say that not only have I met all of those goals, I have also made new ones! It is incredible how much a person can achieve when they no longer have an addiction holding them back.
7. I have regained financial stability.
I used to spend almost all of my money on drugs and alcohol. I would pawn off my possessions and borrow money that I often didn’t pay back. While I am ashamed to admit these things, I can now say that I haven’t had to do any of these things since getting sober. I have worked hard to become a financially responsible person and have paid off all of my debts other than my mortgage.
8. I have been able to help others.
My sobriety provided me with the opportunity to help other people who were suffering from addiction. After I finished addiction treatment, I went on to work at an addiction treatment facility and became certified as an addiction counselor. I spent eight years of my life giving back to others dealing with similar struggles to what I had gone through. Having dealt with addiction firsthand myself, I truly empathized with people and did my best to give them hope that there was a way out.
9. I have learned to love myself.
Alcohol made me hate myself because it made me say and do things I usually never would. Drinking too much turned me into a sad and angry person. I became mean, hateful, and someone I didn’t recognize. Now that I have finally gotten some time to work on healing, I have learned to love myself again truly. It’s hard to describe how great it feels to look in the mirror and no longer despise the person I see staring back at me.
10. I am no longer ashamed of my past.
I used to carry around so much shame and guilt for the things I did while I was drunk. While I am not proud of the actions my addiction lead me to do, I can say with confidence that I am no longer ashamed of my past. I was able to learn from it and move forward. While it would have been nice to know these things the easy way, living a life of active addiction and living a life of recovery has given me a unique perspective. I no longer take for granted the little things in life because I am grateful to be able to live a life I could only have dreamed of in the past. Without a doubt, long-term sobriety has been the greatest gift I could ever have received.