September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month – the 28th in the history of The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). SAMHSA is the leading federal agency in charge of public health efforts to improve the availability and quality of addiction treatment, prevention, and rehabilitation.
The goal of Recovery Month is to spread awareness of mental health and substance use disorders and to celebrate individuals in recovery. It’s also to show that treatment programs work and that people can and do achieve lifelong recovery. To commemorate this occasion, increase your understanding of the many unexpected benefits of addiction recovery.
Your Health And Appearance Improve
It’s no secret that sobriety improves your physical health. Drugs and alcohol act like poison on your body, draining it of important vitamins and nutrients while simultaneously attacking various vital systems. But many people don’t realize just how much binge drinking and doing drugs also affects physical appearance. While physical appearance isn’t everything, and certainly not the most important incentive to get sober, it’s a welcome and often unexpected benefit.
Sobriety can lead to healthier skin, loss of bloat and under-eye puffiness, and an all-around healthier-looking you. Your metabolism will even out, allowing you to burn fat and build muscle more easily. As your body regains the health it lost from binge drinking and/or substance misuse, you’ll begin to experience wonderful changes in your physique and energy levels. You will have more energy and better sleep. You’ll be free of the toxins and pollutants drugs and alcohol placed in your system.
Without substances, your internal organs can reset, giving your body the ability to operate with less strain. You’ll physically function at a more optimal level for your natural self. When you choose sobriety, you choose a healthier lifestyle. Many people engage in better eating and exercise habits during addiction recovery – furthering the positive appearance changes you’ll see when you go sober.
You Have More Fun
The end of drugs and alcohol does not mean the end of having fun. Quite the opposite – people who achieve sobriety have more fun without the influence of substances. They have more energy, clarity, and vigor. Living sober means you’ll remember your nights and fill your days with more activities and events than you ever could while trapped in the cycle of addiction. No more late nights and sleeping until noon. No more hangovers that ruin your day or lead to early drinking. No more fear of getting a DUI when you attend an event. Just your own mind and body enjoying life to the fullest.
Living free from addiction means letting go of the crippling anxiety that may have kept you down. It means getting in touch with yourself and rediscovering your old hobbies and interests. Addiction recovery enables you to focus on fun, enjoyable, and productive activities like traveling, spending (sober) time with friends, visiting museums, and learning new skills. The peace of mind and mental lucidity you’ll enjoy sober makes for having more fun at events, not less fun because you can’t drink.
You Make New Friends
One thing many people don’t realize when they begin their recovery journey is that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings are actually fun. You’ll meet people, make new friends, and attend events and activities you actually enjoy. You will hear amazing, touching, and often funny speakers tell their own stories and share their lives with you. You’ll join a community you never knew existed, and surround yourself with people who are actively enjoying sobriety and being present in their own lives. Plus, trips to the beach, dances, and fellowships at fun dinners certainly don’t hurt.
You won’t just make friends at meetings. In many cases, people in recovery repair relationships their addictions shattered. Many people associate sobriety with losing your social life, but in fact, it’s often the opposite. There are likely friends you lost because of your drinking or drug problem. You may have isolated yourself from others, or let your behavior get too out of hand. New, sober you will have the presence of mind to right old wrongs and reestablish beautiful friendships.
You Find Self-Love
One of the most important benefits of addiction recovery is the self-love you’ll regain or discover for the very first time. All addictions stem from a bigger cause, such as depression, anxiety, or self-hate. Once stuck in the cycle of addiction, these feelings can become more intense due to the chemical changes in your brain and the stigmas surrounding addiction. You may have lived your life under a cloud of self-loathing and shame. Addiction recovery will improve this facet of your life, and encourage feelings of self-love and forgiveness.
Breaking free of a substance use disorder takes strength, courage, and dedication. Living a sober lifestyle is a major accomplishment. You’ll no longer have to live in the shadow of your addiction – you can walk in the sun of recovery. You will choose yourself and your own happiness over your desire for drugs or alcohol. When you put yourself first, you can begin to repair the damage your addiction caused, as well as the underlying reason you became addicted in the first place. Positive lifestyle changes will result in improvements in your mental health, and a new outlook on life.
You Become The Person You Were Meant To Be
Without substances clouding your life, you have the ability to reach your full potential – in your personal life, career, or as a parent, friend, and human being. Before you know it, you’ll be the person others come to for help. People struggling with addiction will look to you as a role model, and you’ll be able to enrich their lives and lead them on the path to recovery. You will be able to prioritize what matters most in life, keep your promises, and follow the path in life that makes you the happiest.
Addiction holds you back, but recovery opens the doors to your future. This SAMHSA Recovery Month, spread awareness of addiction. Educate others on the dangers of living in the grip of a substance use disorder, and the potentially life-changing benefits of recovery – especially those others may not expect. Life in recovery is better.
Join the Movement to End the Stigma Against Addiction Recovery