How Gratitude Can Aid Addiction Recovery

Did you know that November is National Gratitude Month? As Thanksgiving approaches, most of us realize that thankfulness should color the way we look at the world. But gratitude shouldn’t be relegated to November. In fact, psychologists believe that reaping the many benefits afforded by an attitude of gratitude requires embracing the emotion every day of the year. What’s more, gratitude does not exclusively relate to religion. No matter your theology, a thankful heart offers a wide range of perks. In fact, among the many physical, psychological, and social benefits of gratitude is optimism – which helps manage the challenges and stress which so often precede addiction. 

Physical Benefits of Gratitud

  • Stronger immune system
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Relieve from aches and pains
  • Improved sleep
  • Positive relationships 
  • Healthier way of life

Psychological Benefit

  • Positive emotions
  • Alert
  • Capacity to feel joy

Social Benefits

​Battling addiction can be a lonely business. Friends who have not yet decided to take control over their Drug of Choice (DOC) can be stumbling blocks on the road to sobriety. The answer for this is to develop relationships with people who are on the same journey. This is why MFI alumni so often remain close even after program completion. There is no need to face isolation. Focusing on the many things for which we have to be thankful make us infinitely more attractive than if we constantly complain. What’s more, gracious people tend to be more helpful, generous and compassionate than their whining peers. So, try to spend time with like-minded people this holiday season (and always!).   

Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude 

How to replace negativity with gratefulness:
  1. Appreciate the Little Things
    Enjoy the small but simple pleasures of life. Regardless of your financial, physical or social situation, life offers little things which are worthy of your appreciation. Look for them. The flutter of a butterfly’s wings. The cool, crisp breeze of an autumn day. The smell of cinnamon. Make it a habit to look for the beauty, laughter, and love which are so easily ignored. 

  2. Get Motivated 
    Research shows that gratitude leads to increased goal setting and achievement. Since gratitude is a positive rather than a negative emotion, it has the ability to empower. If you don’t feel particularly grateful, it’s okay to fake it until you make it. 

  3. Volunteer 
    Small steps like showing someone around, offering a beverage or listening to another person’s problems can lead to rich rewards. Look for opportunities to serve. Doing so will help take your mind off of your own stuff, leading to feelings of appreciation as well as personal strength. 

  4. See Challenges as Opportunities 
    Refuse to focus on your struggles. Instead, concentrate on everything you have done right. The fact you are trying at all is reason enough to take pride! Relapse is less likely if you learn to meet challenges head-on, considering them as opportunities for growth in your journey toward self-sufficiency. 
  5. Meditation 
    This important step includes taking stock to discover where you may have relinquished an attitude of gratitude. Despite the benefits most Americans enjoy, we tend to dwell on what we lack rather than on what we have. During the month of November, make a concerted effort to focus on at least one positive, small thing each day. Doing so is a great way to combat stress and depression. Recovering from addiction is not just about taking away something negative but, instead, replacing it with something positive to fill the vacuum.  And the time to start is now!  
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” ~Chinese Proverb

About MFI

​Throughout 10 facilities in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, we employ the Matrix Model, creating a personalized treatment program for each client. Various modalities can include behavior modification, 12-Step program introduction, cognitive behavioral therapy, and family systems techniques, including the family in group therapy. Treatment options include outpatient and inpatient detox, medication management (if appropriate), group therapy, individual therapy, relapse prevention education, and ongoing support after treatment. To find out more, call (866) 218-4697, or for non-admission related information (951) 683-6596.

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