Many times, addicts are led to drug and alcohol abuse from continual feelings of hopelessness and depression. A tragedy may have happened in their life to lead them into this train of thought, or they may have troubling relationships, or they may just not feel good enough. And being in the snares of addiction can wear at someone’s self-worth and sense of hope, further digging them into the hole of despair.
Building gratitude can help them dig their way out as they move toward recovery. First, some bad thought processes and behaviors have to be changed. Then the addict can more fully begin to gain and express gratitude.
Unlearn Bad Habits
For addicts, it is difficult to focus on gratitude because of the mental blocks that are common in addiction. Many addicts feel isolated and alone because well-meaning family and friends just don’t know how to interact with someone who is perpetuating destructive behavior with disregard to the negative consequences. The addict will welcome this isolation, as he doesn’t receive any more questions or nagging about his substance use. Addicts also feel a weakened sense of societal behaviors and norms, and thus feel uncomfortable in a crowd or group setting. They lose the ability to socialize normally with others.
These awkward social encounters are brought about by the addict’s sole all-consuming mission: finding the next high. His brain and rational thought are essentially hijacked by out-of-whack chemicals unbalanced by drug use. The brain demands to have the euphoric high it previously felt, felt again, and again, and again. While this part takes more physiological healing, the others can be healed more through emotional recovery.
In order to help an addict, you need to know how addict’s think. Check out this resource to learn more. As suggested, as the addict progresses toward sobriety, help him learn not to isolate himself and help him to rebuild relationships, perhaps even your relationships with him. Family counseling is perfectly appropriate in this situation as the addiction has deeply affected not just the addict, but also his loved ones.
This move toward social interaction can significantly help the success of the recovery, and so can gratitude. Once the addict is moving toward recovery, he can gain a better perspective on what to be grateful for.
Gaining gratitude for healthy parts of life can be a catalyst for change in the addict. He will begin to experience true and wholesome happiness again through a grateful attitude, away from the artificial and dangerous rush of ecstasy felt by his drug of choice.
An addict may not feel like he has a lot to be grateful for, as his life may still be in shambles due to his addiction. But, he can be grateful for the small steps of picking up the pieces and restoring order.
What is very beneficial for a recovering addict to do to develop a knack for grateful and positive thinking is to keep a grateful journal, where he lists everything he is grateful for each day. He can write down small, seemingly inconsequential things like, “the sun is shining” or “I have food to eat” or “I have a bed to sleep in.”
He can also be grateful for his recovery, as it is giving him a future. Alcohol Rehab explains the importance of a grateful mind in recovery: “A grateful attitude will mean that people can face the challenges that confront them in recovery calmly. They will tend to see problems as a chance to grow rather than some type of [hardship]. This positive way of dealing with things will lead them towards the ultimate goal of recovery, that is, complete serenity.” Indeed, peace is the highest goal for recovery and a grateful heart leads there.
Once the addict learns to cultivate an attitude of gratitude, this gratefulness needs to be expressed in order to rebuild healthy relationships. The addict should express gratitude first and foremost to his supportive family and friends who have helped him throughout the recovery process. Showing gratitude to these selfless, and often emotionally exhausted, individuals will help form stronger bonds and help the loved ones to feel appreciated.
The addict should also find self-worth again, or build it if it never existed in the first place. With self-worth comes self-love and gratitude for oneself. This gratitude should be expressed in the addict saying positive things about himself. Help the addict by asking him to say three things he loves about himself every time you see him. He may roll his eyes at first, but you both will see the positive effects it has on his demeanor and sense of self-gratitude.
With these steps, the recovering addict is on his way to full healing and a happy, peaceful state of mind.