Celebrating your independence from addiction

It’s a day of hot dogs and fireworks, of family barbecues and sparklers and bonfires on the beach. But for our country it’s a day of independence. It’s a day when we remember how our our ancestors fought for their freedom and then set out to create a new democracy. And now, more than 200 years later, amidst the parties and colorful explosions, it’s a good time to celebrate the freedom that you have personally fought for: the freedom from addiction.

It’s a hard-won battle, to be sure, and one that you will fight everyday for the rest of your life. But the battle becomes easier and all the fighting that you’ve done becomes the source of your strength — the knowledge that one day at a time will get you through today, just like it did yesterday and the day before that and all the other days that have led you here. You’ve fought hard for your recovery and should celebrate it, along with the independence it brings.

Independence from addiction and everything else

When you first think about it, the obvious things come to mind: you’re free from the hold that alcohol or drugs had on you; you’re free from the loss of control they brought; and you’re free from the hangovers and withdrawal symptoms. But as you move beyond those first weeks and months of addiction and start your path to recovery, you start to realize that there are a lot of other things that were taking away your freedoms — things you are now independent from. You’re free from needing to find a fix several times a day, or being near a liquor store when it opens so you can get through the morning. You’re free to spend your money on things other than drugs and alcohol. You’re free to plan your future, with school and a career and even a family. Or maybe you’re free to reconnect with family and friends without fear of losing them again due to your addiction. You’re free to drive again without worrying that you might hurt yourself or someone else because you were drunk. You’re free to go on vacation without worrying about where you will get a fix in another city or country. You’re free to go to a friend’s wedding without fear you might get drunk and embarrass yourself. You’re free to dream.

Also, think about all the anxiety and trauma that fueled your addiction and how facing that during your recovery gave you the freedom to move past it, the freedom not to need drugs or alcohol to numb yourself. Facing your fears and moving through them is one of the hardest things any of us will ever do, but once you have done that you will have the freedom to do all the things those fears were hindering.

A new and sober way to celebrate the 4th of July

And yes, you now have the freedom to celebrate the 4th of July and know that when you wake up tomorrow, you will remember it. So, in addition to having the barbecue and setting off the fireworks, think about starting some new traditions that will make this day important in your recovery. On Thanksgiving, we often remind ourselves to be thankful for all that we have — something we really should be doing every other day of the year. On Independence Day, remind yourself of all the freedoms that you now have, and give thanks for those. Give thanks for anything that has brought you here and keeps you on your sober path, free from the addictions that used to hold you down.

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