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Why is Gratitude Important in Recovery?

November 27, 2022 , Agape Treatment

woman holding up her hands in the shape of a heart to represent gratitude
 

Gratitude is important in addiction recovery because it helps us to be thankful for sobriety. It changes the pathways in the brain and trains us for a growth mindset.

What is Gratitude?

Starting a journey of recovery should include the regular cultivation of gratitude. Gratitude is a practice that has been shown to have a significant role in helping those in recovery to cultivate a grateful heart. It is recognized as being an integral pillar virtue in becoming truly happy, and is one of the leading methods for relapse prevention, thus contributing to a more resilient recovery. 

Why is Gratitude Important in Addiction Recovery?

Gratitude in addiction recovery is an important component of resilience and relapse prevention. Someone practicing gratitude in recovery is going to be more ready to face the challenges that lie ahead. While these issues and challenges are often experienced by a considerable portion of those entering treatment, without gratitude in recovery, individuals often feel less empowered or capable than otherwise. This can lead to an eventual relapse.

One of the ways that an attitude of gratitude can help people in recovery is that the positive outlook, and similar thought process that goes into the everyday life of grateful people, make it possible to lead a very recovery-oriented life. 

Those with substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder diagnoses may have co-occurring disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, or others. This means that simple tactics like keeping a gratitude journal can provide additional benefits to other treatments and treatment plans. 

There are also many benefits of gratitude that are often unknown or simply overlooked by people. These benefits include not only physical but social and psychological ones as well. Below are some of these lesser-known benefits of gratitude.

Physical

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Increased restful sleep during sleep cycles
  • Lower occurrence of general aches and pains
  • Increased interest in better self-care, such as working out and eating better
  • Boosted immune response

Social

  • Increased sense of generosity, compassion, and helpfulness
  • More likely to be forgiving
  • Higher likelihood of becoming outgoing
  • Less likely to feel isolated or lonely

Psychological

  • More frequent positive feelings and emotions
  • Feeling more pleasure and even joy during recovery
  • Becoming more optimistic and happier
  • More mental energy in the form of being more awake and alert

Gratitude Can Transform Our Neurobiology

When you practice gratitude in various ways, it can have significant effects on brain structure and function. One of the most significant ways that gratitude can change the way an individual’s brain physically operates is by affecting the production and release of various neurotransmitters. Gratitude, in particular, releases the neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin, which create intense feelings of happiness and even bliss or euphoria. 

Gratitude Keeps Resentment in Check

Practicing gratitude or keeping a gratitude journal is a great way for those in recovery to stave off any feelings of resentment that may otherwise pop up. It can help keep the person grounded about what they have in life to be grateful for. Rather than asking for any payment for anything in return, you’re simply reminding them of their inherent value, and that you are grateful for their existence in general. 

Gratitude Measures Our Spiritual Welfare

One of the biggest reasons that practicing gratitude works as it does, is that it remains largely selfless. The acts of gratitude are done without any pretense or hope for remuneration. They are the embodiment of a gift that is freely given to someone to show them they are deeply appreciated. In this respect, practicing gratitude helps an individual maintain a calibrated moral compass, and is one way of ensuring that effort and good intent are given back to those who put themselves out there. 

Gratitude is a Muscle: It Takes Time & Practice to Master

Gratitude is very similar to muscle because you can start practicing gratitude almost immediately after learning about it, and it can be practiced effectively. However, this is often just the first stage of gratitude, and it can be improved and grown over time with practice. This means that almost anyone can practice it, but it takes time and effort to master it. 

Gratitude is a Magnet: Our Positive Outlook Brings Out Gratitude in Others

A really great thing about practicing gratitude is that it can become infectious easily. Whether it’s just our basic drive to be competitive, or something much less cynical, practicing gratitude can lead those in close proximity to becoming better versions of themselves. When people see others practice gratitude, or are the recipient of someone’s gratitude expression, it often leads them to begin practicing gratitude themselves. This can have a snowballing effect that can brighten hundreds of lives in a short time. 

Showing Gratitude to Yourself

Whether you are learning about gratitude in the big book of one of the 12-step programs, or simply learning how to be more grateful about your place in life and what you have or may have available, it’s important to remember to show gratitude to yourself. 

Showing gratitude to yourself allows you to recognize the efforts, contributions, and even sacrifices that you’ve made along the road to recovery. Without giving sufficient gratitude to yourself, it can start to feel like nothing you do is enough and that you are always thanking someone else. You put in a significant effort for your treatment and recovery, don’t let yourself go unrecognized.

Learning More at Agape Treatment Center

Agape is one of the area leaders in effective, long-term recoveries that last. Before you reach out to begin your recovery journey, you should understand that we have created an incredibly serene setting for recovery so you can focus on healing and becoming the best version of yourself there is. 

The first step on this journey is to contact admissions today. You can begin discussing your treatment needs with one of our addiction professionals. Following an initial evaluation, you’ll be able to start designing a personalized treatment plan that supports your recovery needs.