Many of the worst effects of addiction are psychological or behavioral, which are the ones that cannot readily be seen. Addiction is a chronic, progressive disease that causes altered structure and functioning to the brain; as a result, individuals who suffer from addiction exhibit persistent relapsing behavior due to a strong compulsion to seek and consume alcohol and/or drugs. The changes that occur to the brain are also responsible for a number of behavioral and personality changes, making those who suffer from addiction-prone to lying, irresponsibility, recklessness, and selfishness. In short, the disease of addiction has a terrible transformative power.
Although the disease of addiction can’t currently be cured, it can be overcome through a number of available treatments, therapies, and recovery services. Individuals who embark on the journey of addiction recovery are able to regain much of their former selves. Moreover, individuals in early recovery often experience a flood of intense emotions after years or decades of using substance abuse to dilute or numb their emotions. With the reflection and self-examination that occurs as part of counseling and treatment, guilt and shame are incredibly common due to wrongs committed—even against loved ones—while in active addiction. And yet, despite these unpleasant feelings individuals are able to feel the full spectrum of pleasant ones once again as well.
Due to the improvement in quality of health, relationships, and life overall, individuals in recovery tend to feel immense gratitude to their loved ones, counselors and those who helped them through the recovery process, and even for being alive and having survived such a deadly disease. Many individuals’ recoveries coincide with major improvements to one’s quality of life, providing even more reason to be thankful and grateful. Here are some of the signs that an individual is feeling gratitude during or after recovery.
Positive Affect & Demeanor
Over the course of active addiction to alcohol or drug, an individual will experience profound hardship and adversity, much of which is brought on by him or herself. For an addict, each day is characterized by struggle to one degree or another; a good day means not having quite as much difficulty obtaining the day’s alcohol or drugs and being able to keep withdrawal symptoms at bay just a little longer. In recovery, individuals no longer have to live in a constant state of fear and anxiety. Overcoming physical dependency on chemical substances takes a major weight off one’s shoulders and alleviates a lot of stress. As such, individuals who have recovered from addiction will have an upbeat effect or observable expression of emotion. Individuals feeling gratitude for their sobriety will often have a positive demeanor without any particular provocation.
Enjoys & Takes Pleasure in the Simple Things
Whereas active addiction is a time in an individual’s life that is dark and uncertain, recovery affords individuals a measure of certainty and optimism. They don’t worry whether they will be able to obtain their substances of choice tomorrow or whether the next dose will be the one that ends their life. Freed from that constant sense of foreboding, individuals are able to enjoy the many pleasures in life, especially the small and simple things: a good cup of coffee, a warm place to sleep, a sunny day. When an individual feels gratitude for just being alive, each day is a gift and a privilege.
Addiction prevents individuals from enjoying life. However, after a major life change like recovery from addiction, individuals tend to feel much more optimistic about the future. With increasing sober time, individuals begin to see that life isn’t quite the struggle they previously thought. While addiction brings constant struggle, sobriety brings a sense of peace and predictability. Individuals who have overcome addiction don’t live in fear of what they’ll be forced to do tomorrow in order to sustain a drug habit. Instead, sober individuals develop a healthy, productive routine and learn that hard work and effort bring rewards. This change in one’s reality makes individuals much more optimistic about the present and future.
Motivated & Motivating to Others
Individuals who suffer from addiction mostly tend to be motivated to find their substance or substances of choice. Upon recovery, individuals don’t have that persistent hunger to feed, allowing them to pursue a variety of interests and ambitions. Gratitude tends to make individuals want to do more and be more; instead of taking things for granted, they realize that individuals reap what they sow and choose to sow the seeds of greater things. Moreover, these individuals are often motivating to others, encouraging them to set goals and strive to achieve them.
More Concerned with Health & Wellness
In active addiction, individuals tend to let their health fall by the wayside. The most pressing concern in an addict’s life is preventing withdrawal, which requires ongoing seeking and consumption of alcohol or drugs. However, recovery relieves individuals of that obligation. Feeling grateful for being alive, those in recovery often take much better care of themselves in order to bolster their health and wellness.
Easygoing & Doesn’t Seem Over Stressed
Stress is a mainstay of alcohol and drug addiction. Addicts feel stress while wondering if they’ll be able to gather enough money to obtain alcohol or drugs tomorrow, while worrying about the repercussions of the crimes they’ve committed to sustaining their substance abuse habits, and while worrying about all the bills that haven’t been paid. In recovery, individuals are able to maintain a job and support themselves financially, ensuring that they have a place to live and that their basic needs are met. This leads to feelings of gratitude and a tendency to not be easily stressed by trivial day-to-day troubles. Individuals feeling gratitude in recovery tend to be very easygoing.
Spends More Time Cultivating Relationships
Without the persistent issue of maintaining a substance abuse habit, individuals are freed to pursue other interests. Moreover, many other aspects of life become more important, such as one’s relationships. Addiction tends to make people antisocial; the only relationships that addicts maintain are often with other addicts, letting the majority of their relationships—family members, spouses, friends, co-workers, and many others—fade away. In recovery, individuals begin to feel gratitude for their loved ones who have supported them and encouraged their recovery. As a result of this gratitude, many individuals in recovery begin to spend more time with their loved ones, cultivating or repairing important relationships.
Explore Your Recovery Options at the Palm Beach Institute
Addiction is a very serious disease and has cost countless individuals their lives. However, recovery is possible. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol or drug addiction and would like to learn more about treatments and therapies, the Palm Beach Institute can help. Call today to speak with one of our recovery specialists, who can match individuals to the programs and treatments they need to return to sobriety, health, and fulfilling lives once again.