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Finding Gratitude Within Addiction

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“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is!”

Ernest Hemingway

Often when substance use disorder is present in the family system, we find ourselves distanced from a sense of gratitude. We may long for the days before our loved ones struggled, and resent the fact that words like ‘boundaries’ and ‘codependency’ became a normal part of our language.

I’m a mother of someone who has struggled with addiction and has been in and out of recovery for years. I would like to encourage you to begin thinking of all the gifts you have received as a result of the process of recovery. Some days it can be hard to think of anything to be grateful for. Things can seem impossible to overcome. But even on the worst days, there is always something to be thankful for.

Even small things can help bring some joy back into your day. I know that by coming to my support group meetings to help with my recovery, I have found wonderful people who share the same heartaches and struggles that I have had. It has truly been a gift to find a place where I feel safe to tell my sometimes awful and unbelievable stories. Finding gratitude in recovery can change your whole outlook.

Through the process of finding gratitude and positivity in my life, I have learned that I need to reflect and ask myself these four questions:

Have you started to heal your own life? This is a hard one for me. Sometimes I feel like I have come so far in my recovery, and then fear creeps in. I start my what-ifs and worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet. I guess, like with our loved ones, it is a day-by-day process with us, too.

Have you developed new self-care habits for yourself?  It can be simple things like going for a walk, getting your nails done, or making sure you don’t miss meetings. Do things for yourself even when you are having a bad day!

Has your circle of friends gotten bigger?  I know by joining a support group, mine has!

Have you reengaged in activities that had gotten lost in the midst of the struggle with your addicted loved one?  I used to avoid seeing friends that were not part of my intimate inner circle or going to parties. I didn’t want to admit to them what a mess my life was, or have to answer questions about what my kids were up to. Now I own the mess! I try to educate and share with my friends about addiction and what we have been going through.

Try to carve out time this week to reflect on the things that you may have taken for granted. Be intentional about expressing your gratitude to your higher power, your family, coworkers, and friends.

Karen Damian has a son in recovery and feels that it is a privilege to share the ups and downs of addiction with other parents.

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