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If you belong to any “Anonymous” support group, you’re familiar with “I’m celebrating x months/years of sobriety” announcements. Even if your support network uses a non-12-Steps approach, celebrating sobriety anniversaries provides a boost to self-esteem and extra incentive to stay on the wagon.
Obviously, you won’t want to celebrate with a wild party, or even a glass of wine. Here are some fun, memorable and drug-free ideas you can use alone or in combination.
TREAT YOURSELF TO A FAVORITE HEALTHY GOURMET FOOD
Most of us have special foods we love but can’t budget for on a weekly basis. Celebrations are the time for splurges, so why not recognize your sobriety anniversary with a higher-class treat you don’t eat every month? It doesn’t have to be an “empty calories” treat: and if you have a history of letting one indulgence lead to another, it’s better if it isn’t. There are plenty of delicious options to gratify your taste buds without upsetting your mood or good judgment:
- Exotic fruit or vegetables
- Fancy cheeses
- Fresh fish
- High-protein soups
- Exotic grains
If you need additional help, ask a nutritionist or a “gourmet health food”/“natural foods” store.
TRY A NEW HEALTHY GOURMET RECIPE
If you love to cook, why stop with buying gourmet food for your sobriety-anniversary celebration? A quick search online will turn up dozens of “healthy gourmet recipes.” Make an anniversary dinner to share with your family, or your whole support network!
Trying a new food or recipe is a particularly good idea if most of your old favorites were items you always enjoyed with wine or beer: sobriety celebrations can defeat their own purpose if any relapse triggers sneak in.
BUY YOURSELF AN ANNIVERSARY GIFT
There are retail gift lines specializing in sobriety-anniversary items such as jewelry, coffee mugs and decorative trinkets. Or you can choose anything that catches your eye or that you’ve wanted for a long time:
- A plaque or jewelry item engraved to order with your sobriety milestone
- A fancy pen or journal
- A coffee-table book
- A vase, paperweight or painting
Again, be careful to choose something your brain won’t associate with any drug-use setting!
GIVE YOURSELF A FUTURE-ORIENTED GIFT
At least as good as commemorative gifts are those that convey the message, “I have faith you’ll continue to build a better future”:
- A hobby kit
- A musical instrument
- A DIY tool or kit
- Season tickets for a cultural program
- Registration for a vocational course or conference
- Membership in a business or service organization
If you’re prepared for larger responsibilities, you might even opt for a pet. A kitten, canary or fish tank means something special to care for, nurture and stay healthy for!
SPEND A DAY AT A SPA
You’ve earned the right to be pampered a bit. Do some advance research, though: there are spas that include a glass of wine in their royal-treatment packages.
If you can’t afford or don’t want a full spa day, there are other means of pampering:
- Get a massage.
- Get a facial, manicure and/or new hairstyle.
- Soak in a hot tub.
- Indulge yourself in aromatherapy, from scented candles to a well-placed dab of essential oil.
Whatever you choose, make it a sensory experience and let yourself indulge fully in every moment of it. (Consider turning off your phone and taking off your watch for the day.)
ATTEND A SPECIAL EVENT
From concerts to conferences to field trips, there are options to suit everyone’s taste. If you’ll be gone overnight or longer, you may want to take along a friend or family member, or another member of your support network, to revitalize the relationship and to multiply your joy by sharing it.
If you go alone (and even if you don’t), and if there’s any chance you’ll encounter relapse temptations, do take precautions:
- Remember that the “highs” of natural euphoria can generate carelessness in regard to artificial highs.
- Plan in advance how you will handle potentially tempting situations. Ask someone to hold you accountable and to check in with you after the event.
- Keep your resistance up by eating healthy and by getting adequate exercise and sleep.
- If you’ll be driving some distance, be careful of refueling stops: they often come with tempting beer or wine displays. Consider packing your own food and water to minimize time spent inside convenience stores or diners.
THROW A PARTY
If you aren’t fond of large gatherings, a “sobriety party” can be as simple as inviting a few friends over for tea, or to the park for a shared brown-bag lunch. Tiny get-together or all-out dinner party, make this a celebration that suits your personality and passions, and doesn’t tempt you to stress out over “impressing” anybody. After all, one major secret of lasting sobriety is appreciating—and celebrating—your unique real self!