Cupcake with many candles. Celebrate someone's sobriety birthday.

How to Celebrate Someone’s Sobriety Birthday

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Celebrating a sobriety birthday can be a HUGE milestone in a person’s recovery.

Let’s face it: getting sober and maintaining sobriety are challenging for most of us. But it can be tricky to find new ways to celebrate sobriety, or even to accept the notion that sobriety should be celebrated. 

Why we should celebrate a recovery birthday

Recovery takes hard work and dedication, day-in and day-out. Whether you’re in a 12-step fellowship (like AA or NA) or non-secular recovery (like SMART, Recovery Dharma, or therapy), recovery is a process of continuous change and effort to improve our health and well-being. That process can be incredibly painful and challenging as we sift through our darkest moments and change the ways we respond to our traumas and stressors. 

While the stigma associated with addiction is, unfortunately, still real, recovery is not something to be ashamed of! It is something we should be proud of. We’ve worked incredibly hard to improve our lives and our relationships. We should acknowledge that. Sobriety birthdays and recovery anniversaries give us the opportunity to do just that: celebrate how far we have come and how hard we have worked.

Whether it is the first 30 days, 6 months, a year, or several years, we can celebrate any recovery milestone that we choose. When I first got sober, I celebrated 30 days and every continuous month for my first year. Then I celebrated 18 months and each continuous year. Initially, I would mark those anniversaries with chips from 12-step meetings and celebrate with friends. Nine and a half years later, I still celebrate every single year I am in recovery, and I have no plans to change that. 

10 ways to celebrate a recovery birthday

It’s worth noting that celebrating recovery time in the early days can be daunting for some folks, especially if they associate celebrations with drinking and partying. Over the years, just like everything else, we can re-work our approach to this, and find new ways to celebrate and share our recovery achievements. Here are ten ways to celebrate your own sobriety birthday:

  • Go for cake or cupcakes! 
  • Reflect on how you have changed and evolved
  • Make a gratitude list
  • Take a moment to thank the people involved in your recovery journey
  • Go to a meeting and get a chip
  • Have a self-pampering day
  • Volunteer your time to give back to folks seeking recovery, like sharing your story
  • Make a social media post sharing your journey and offering a listening ear for anyone struggling with substances
  • Buy yourself a book, outfit, or any other item that you can look back on as a memento
  • Go for a hike

If you’re celebrating someone else’s recovery birthday, here are a few ideas:

  • Take them out for coffee or dinner
  • Bake them a cake
  • Affirm their progress verbally and show your support
  • Write them a personal note about how you’ve observed them growing during their recovery and what you appreciate about that change
  • Ask them if you can donate to an organization they support in their name
  • Go to a meeting with them

One thing to remember about sobriety birthdays is that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate. One year you may want to celebrate loudly, and another you may want to take a quiet moment alone to reflect and acknowledge how far you’ve come. What’s important is that it is meaningful for you. We’d love to hear from you about ways you celebrate recovery milestones—make a note on our social media post and let us know.

A sobriety birthday is a big milestone for many people in recovery. Here are several ways you can celebrate.

Olivia Pennelle is a writer, journalist, and recovery activist. Her work has appeared in STAT News, Insider, Filter Magazine, Ravishly, The Temper, and Shondaland. She is the founder of popular site Liv’s Recovery Kitchen. She lives near Portland, Oregon. Follow her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter

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