We live in a culture that glamorizes substance use but stigmatizes addiction. We celebrate drinking alcohol and using drugs, but we demonize addicts. Our mainstream culture, our popular media, our music, television, movies, video games, social media and entertainment all trivialize and normalize excessive drinking, drug use and addiction. We’re brainwashed to think that a cigarette or a drink in our hand is the symbol of coolness. As children we’re conditioned to think that because the popular kids are partying, drinking and experimenting with drugs, these are the things we should aspire to if we want to be cool ourselves. Being sober is associated with being uncool, naïve, immature, boring and uninteresting.

For those of us in recovery, the work we’re doing for ourselves is life-changing. It is absolutely something to be celebrated. Sharing our stories, our triumphs and successes, along with our mistakes and our failures, is our contribution to changing our culture’s perception of sobriety. When we share our experiences, we show the world the potential we can have when we choose recovery over self-hate. We’ve become testaments to the power of self-transformation. We become living proof of what you can accomplish when you believe in yourself. Being in recovery, we should be celebrating ourselves. Every day that we stay sober, we should be celebrating our progress. Any mistake we make, any slip up we have, even a relapse, instead of judging ourselves and being hard and hard on ourselves and unforgiving, we should focus on how far we’ve come and remember that sometimes we have to learn things more than once before we can move forward. Every step is something to be celebrated because we’re making the choice to put ourselves first and to love ourselves.

Celebrating our sobriety means being unashamed of our addictions. It means accepting ourselves wholeheartedly, as we are, inclusive of our addictions, our mistakes and our shortcomings, not despite them. It means seeing ourselves as courageous for living with addiction, not as moral failures for our mistakes. It means having self-acceptance and embracing all of our parts, not just the ones we consider to be good. The emotional work we do in recovery requires that we change our relationship with ourselves. We can’t recover if we don’t believe in ourselves or our ability to heal. We can’t succeed if we don’t love and celebrate ourselves. Our success in our sobriety is directly proportional to the amount of self-love we have.

Culturally let’s start to destigmatize addiction and popularize sobriety. Let’s celebrate finding meaning and purpose in our lives rather than drinking and snorting away the best years of our lives. Let’s encourage each other to be honest and transparent about our struggles. Let’s shed the shame and embarrassment that force so many of us into secrecy and denial, that keep us from getting the help we need.

Changing the culture around sobriety invites us to be more open about addiction. Let’s start talking to our children about mental and emotional health. Let’s teach them about finding healthy ways of dealing with their painful thoughts and feelings. Let’s help them develop effective coping mechanisms for their sadness, fear, anger, discomfort, anxiety. Let’s teach them yoga, meditation and energy healing. Let’s make self-care cool. Let’s make holistic mental and emotional health a priority in our families and our communities. Let’s create wellness and peace within ourselves and our circles.

Celebrating sobriety means choosing well-being, self-care and spiritual practice. Prioritizing sobriety means giving energy to healing ourselves from the inside out, expressing gratitude and developing healthy habits for ourselves. Learning to love and accept ourselves unconditionally, practicing self-love and self-acceptance on a daily basis, practicing having forgiveness and understanding with ourselves and each other.

Let’s affirm, “I celebrate myself. I celebrate my recovery. I celebrate my strength. I celebrate my courage. I celebrate my resilience. I am proud of myself. I believe in myself. I love, accept respect and embrace myself and all my parts. I am unique, special and worthy. I am deserving.”

Share your story in a support group, on your blog, with a friend. Write your story, celebrate your story. Let’s shed the stigma so that addicts and their loved ones feel empowered to get the help they need. Let’s choose to see our challenges and the process of overcoming them as beautiful and worthy of praise. Let’s create a self-image for ourselves based on self-love and self-validation. Let’s be so full of self-acceptance that our instinct is to celebrate ourselves for working to heal ourselves rather than demonizing ourselves for our illnesses. The more we share of ourselves and foster community with others, the more open and welcoming we become for each other. The less stigma there is around addiction, the more people get support, the more lives are saved. Let’s celebrate our lives. Let’s love ourselves. Let’s celebrate our recovery!

Established in 1939, High Watch is the world’s first 12-Step treatment center. Every individual who walks through our doors joins a definitive culture of compassion, dignity, and respect from a genuinely caring staff dedicated to seeing the disease of addiction find remission. Providing proven therapeutic approaches and comprehensive 12-Step education, patients leave High Watch with the confidence to maintain abstinence and live a healthy, happy, sober life. Start your journey today by calling 860.927.3772.