Whether you’ve been clean and sober for three months or three years, it’s always worthwhile to take the time to celebrate your recovery. Recovery is often referred to as a journey, not a destination; for this reason, it’s something that should continually be progressing. Just because there isn’t a concrete endpoint doesn’t mean that there aren’t helpful markers along the way. Today, we’ll explore key milestones in your sobriety.
COUNTING DAYS, MONTHS, AND YEARS OF SOBRIETY
Perhaps the most widely-known sobriety milestones rely on the number of substance-free days accrued over time. These are often commemorated through chips, also called sobriety coins, which are available for your first 24 hours sober up through years of recovery.
While this system is optional and not a part of all 12-Step programs, it serves a special purpose. Carrying around a small token of one’s recovery can serve as a tangible reminder of your progress during times of stress or temptation. These personal mementos also provide a constant source of inspiration.
Typical coin milestone colors include:
- White or Silver Chip: 24 hours of sobriety
- Red Chip: 30 days (1 month) of sobriety
- Gold Chip: 60 days (2 months) of sobriety
- Green Chip: 90 days (3 months) of sobriety
- Purple Chip: 4 months of sobriety
- Pink Chip: 5 months of sobriety
- Dark Blue Chip: 6 months of sobriety
- Copper Chip: 7 months of sobriety
- Red Chip: 8 months of sobriety
- Purple Chip: 9 months of sobriety
- Gold Chip: 10 months of sobriety
- Green Chip: 11 months of sobriety
- Bronze Chip: 1 year of sobriety, and each year onwards as well.
As you transition from treatment to your day-to-day life, there will be a significant learning curve. The longer you stay sober, the easier the process will become. Perhaps the biggest cause for celebration is your sober birthday (also called your sobriety anniversary, sober anniversary, or recovery anniversary).
This reminder of progress can be the last day you used, the day after your final relapse, the day you decided to get help, or if you prefer, it can be the date that you first entered treatment. By celebrating this date, you receive an opportunity to reflect on your journey thus far, as well as to thank your mentors, family, friends, and peers in recovery who have helped out along the way.
Other recovery milestones aren’t time-based. Instead, they reflect personal growth, particularly in the areas that were previously stunted by drug and alcohol use. This is so common that often, people will say that during recovery, they “got their emotions back.” Thoughts and feelings that were numbed or outright avoided through substance use will surge back into your life again.
This can be a daunting transition, but when handled well, it makes all the difference in your new sober worldview. By working with professionals, including counselors or therapists, you can learn to cope with these newfound emotions in a way that is healthy and that will be the crown jewel of your recovery.
As you cross these emotional milestones, you’ll more fully understand both who you are and who you want to be. Faded interests will reemerge, and new hobbies may be sparked by your sudden zest for life. These changing emotions will benefit you for the rest of your life.
Through sincere effort and clear, honest communication, you can begin to rebuild relationships that were previously devastated by your addiction. Substance use puts undue strain on the people we value most – it can instigate us to behave in ways we never thought possible, even up to the point of betraying or stealing from family and friends. Fortunately, with enough patience and work, it is often possible to repair these relationships.
Forgiveness takes time, but the best way to apologize is through demonstrating changed behavior. Now that you can prioritize loved ones over drugs and alcohol, begin to prove it to them through the choices you make. You should also work with professionals to learn constructive communication methods; this will lay the groundwork for healthy conflict resolution moving forward.
TAKING YOUR LIFE BACK IN SOBRIETY
Another key milestone of sobriety is your return to the personal and professional worlds you once occupied. Whether you’re going back to the career you had before treatment or starting over somewhere else, you may have mixed feelings about a drug-free work experience. While being back in the office may provide much-needed structure and financial structure for those in early recovery, it can also pose challenges with regard to job security, office gossip, and stress levels.
Returning to your career is a major marker of success in your recovery journey. There is no “right answer” to when one should start working again after rehab – this is unique to each individual. If you’re in doubt, speak with your treatment team or other supportive figures, who can advise you about this decision.
SUPPORTING YOUR RECOVERY JOURNEY, ONE MILESTONE AT A TIME
Recovery is an ongoing process that requires dedication, accountability, and motivation. BRC Recovery Support bridges the gap from treatment to independence, providing services from case management to recovery coaching. Through this comprehensive approach, we specialize in aiding those working through their first year of recovery. To learn more, call us today.