Bump Up Someone’s Recovery
For Parents, Spouses, Family and Friends
Often people ask me what they could give someone who is celebrating any milestones in their recovery. Close family members often want to recognize the efforts someone is putting into this hard period of life change. Several might think that we should not pat others on the back for things they were supposed to do in the first place, but I’m a believer in motivation and positive affirmation.
If someone takes responsibility for his life and enters the difficult path of recovery instead of staying in his comfort zone of self-destruction, then that person deserves some acknowledgment. Addiction is a disease, and once it takes over, using or drinking is no longer a choice for the individual with substance use disorder. Entering a recovery process is a positive choice and needs a lot of support and motivation along the way to be successful for an individual. Nobody can do it alone, recovery is always a team event with many family members and friends involved as a support network. Twelve step fellowships have tokens, coins or key fobs to honor milestones. Little gifts along the way can bump up the recovery process and increase long-term success.
Here is a list of motivating gift ideas for the one you love that has chosen to become a different person and surrendered substance use for a better way of living. If it is one month, three months, six months, a year or multiple years, each milestone gives a perfect opportunity to re-group the support network and come together to celebrate with a special gift. It’s often not the gift itself, but the thought that counts because it tells the person in recovery that his or her change is not forgotten and all of the hard work is appreciated.
1) Gift Of Life, Give A Tree
I love the idea of giving someone a tree. Sounds strange for some, but look at the powerful meaning this gift can have. Get a tree in a nursery and put a red ribbon and a meaningful card on it, that could state something like, “May this tree grow, just like your support in hard times. May it give you shade and comfort, and grow together with you.” Or perhaps state, “Find a place for me (the tree), where we can grow together and share memories of our new life. Nurture me and share your gratitude and emotions with me.” It is a gift that keeps giving– but be sure the recipient has a yard and room for it to grow. Pick the type of tree accordingly.
2) Specialty Coins
Usually someone in a 12-step program gets a coin from his sponsor or his group, but how about ordering a special one online? There are many lovely ones available, for example, consider www.thetokenshop.com , www.aarecoverycoinstore.com, or www.my12stepstore.com
Many books are written about recovery and sobriety and you will sure find one that your loved one will relate to. Consider also reading the book yourself, or check out online reviews of particular books before ordering.
4) Give Activity
A newfound desire to be healthy and active often accompanies newfound sobriety. As I said earlier, it’s the thought that counts, and the gift of activity can range from a gym membership, or simply a yoga or zumba class, or even a handmade voucher for a walk in the park together or a visit at a national park for a hike. Does your loved one have a video game system or smart phone? How about an interactive personal trainer app or game. Or you can register both of you for a run nearby and train together for it. Ever been paddle boarding? The sky is the limit– get moving together, and enjoy fun in recovery together.
5.) Give Health
Healthy eating is not usually a priority for a person suffering from any type of substance use disorder, I can guarantee that. As a gift of recognition of a changed life, a handmade gift basket with fresh fruit, a selection of fresh veggies, a healthy food cookbook and/or a gift card for a local health food store can be a nice motivation to change.
6.) Give Family Time
Recovery becomes stronger with resilience and the best resilience is found in the family. As a gift of appreciation of a milestone in recovery, you can get together and give family time, for example, in the form of a trip to a nearby national park, an amusement park, or a special day a day to remember by trying one of the Escape game rooms. Grow together and enjoy time together. End the day with a lovely (alcohol-free) family cookout for the one you love in recovery.
7) Encourage Journaling
A journal is an excellent gift for someone in recovery. It’s a great thought but those journals often end up somewhere untouched in the corner. An important add-on to the gift of a journal is the most important gift of encouragement and motivation. How about buying two books and committing together to keep using them. Hold each other accountable and ask, for example, that at first you each write three things you are grateful for each day along with a little goal for the next day. Share your entries and your thoughts, hold each other accountable until it becomes a habit. Soon the journal book will evolve it’s own path in the direction it is needed.
Almost no one in early recovery has any recent pictures where he likes himself. Strengthen self-worth and self-esteem and give a voucher for a photo session with a photographer. Usually local photographers will give you a good deal outside of yearbook photos and prom season.
9) Well-Being And Good Feeling
In early recovery, enjoying the moment and practicing self-care are both new activities. True mindfulness can be very supportive for the recovery process. As a gift for a milestone, you can give the gift of feeling well in form of a massage voucher, a hairdresser or spa visit, soothing smells in form of candles or wax warmers, a comfortable soft pillow to snuggle on the couch, a pedicure together, or even a reflex zone massage. Or how about an old fashioned tea pot with some soothing teas to make? Think about what makes you feel pampered and well, and share it with your loved one who may be struggling in his early recovery.
10) Nurture Passion
Think about what your loved one is (or was) passionate about and encourage him or her to go back to those activities or hobbies. If your friend in early recovery keeps talking about how many pullovers she knitted in her youth, give her needles and wool and inspire her to get started on a hat for cold winter days. If your daughter was always passionate about gardening, get her started again with a tomato plant and a little shovel. And if your son is highly interested in wood working, look into supplies or classes. Add a book with wood working ideas or some tools to it. Or re-unite the support network and family and let each person give him one tool to get a start.
You see, recovery is not boring at all, and we can use milestones and anniversaries to help our loved ones to re-ignite the fire for recovery with a little something that does not have to be of material nature. Use my ideas or give it some thought yourself about how you can help motivate your loved one to stay committed and happy about his choice. Recovery is a “we” situation and not just an achievement of one individual. Lots of the ideas might brighten up your own life as well, and you both profit from a collective project you start. Keep living life in recovery– that’s why we do it!
We do recover!