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Learning Gratitude in Recovery

An addict can experience a variety of emotions both before and during recovery that make it difficult to stay sober. Whether it is a fight that happens now to trigger anger and resentment or the bitterness that accompanies a life of hardship, not letting go of toxic feelings in constructive ways can end up derailing recovery efforts as a person seeks to self-medicate the emotions away. That’s why the importance of learning gratitude in recovery can act as a bulwark, a defensive barrier, against a flood of negative emotions associated with addiction.

3 Minute Read | Published Sep 09 2023 | Updated Mar 08 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
David Levin
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
David Levin
Reviewed by

Learning Gratitude in Recovery for Lasting Results

Why 12-Step Programs Focus on Learning Gratitude in Recovery

If you’ve ever been a part of a 12-step group, you know that part of this type of recovery process focuses on being humble enough to admit mistakes and seek help from a Higher Power. Practicing humility in recovery sidesteps the error of pride that leads to being unable to admit the addiction in the first place. Practicing humility in recovery is engaged in the 12-step program, as well as other types of rehab programs, by seeking to address the wrongs an addict may have done during their addiction that harmed their relationships with others and making amends to them. Ultimately, the goal is to reach the stage where learning gratitude in recovery doesn’t seem like such a far-fetched goal. The addict has a sense of gratitude for their experience and can use it to help others by “paying it forward” in step 12. In this way, humility and gratitude in recovery work hand-in-hand to generate forgiveness and true, long-lasting, recovery.

Forgiveness Helps in Learning Gratitude in Recovery

Other emotions that lead to addiction and also endanger recovery are a sense of entitlement or bitterness about the past. These difficult emotions, when they are allowed to grow, end up creating justifications for continuing down the road to addiction or engaging in self-destructive behaviors. Taking the steps necessary to acknowledge and forgive past hurts via group therapy provides a clean slate for gratitude to begin to blossom. Peer groups can also be an effective tool to strip away the sense of entitlement that keeps people addicted and unable to admit their shortcomings so they can lead more authentic lives.

Learning Gratitude in Recovery as a New Perspective on Life

Instead of taking count of regrets or hurts, a person can learn that every experience can be perceived as a lesson in gratitude. Instead of focusing on the negatives of an experience, the addict in recovery learns how to perceive the blessings and begins to establish a more positive outlook on life. This shift in perspective can have profound implications for how they handle future emotional upsets as well, leading to a healthier way to manage their emotions. This can build a defensive posture of optimism as the addict counts their blessings instead of focusing on past hurts.

Learning Gratitude in Recovery Helps Addicts to Pay It Forward

Once someone has a handle on their addiction and has gone through recovery, it’s time to pay it forward in Step 12. Without having cultivated humility and gratitude in recovery, it would be impossible to even think about helping others to benefit as well. If an addict were still focused on their own negative emotions, they would not be able to even feel the need to pay it forward. However, upon learning gratitude in recovery, an addict naturally feels a sense of thankfulness and appreciates the fact that their experience can be used to help others. This is what eventually leads them to act as mentors to others who are still struggling with their own addictions. If you still need help locating resources to help you learn this valuable skill in rehab, contact BetterAddictionCare today.


bullet Psychology Today
"The Benefits of Cultivating an Attitude of Gratitude"
Retrieved on July 24, 2017

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