We recently posted about how important it is to celebrate your clean and sober anniversary date every year and the ways people can do so in a healthy and productive way, obviously without drugs or alcohol.  The day someone got sober is an amazing day in their life, a turning point, and it deserves recognition and celebration. Sober anniversaries are even more important, in some ways, than birthdays – you cannot choose your own birthday, but your recovery date is the day you chose to make a change that allowed you to move forward to the present day, vibrant , healthy, and alive.

As you surely know, getting clean and sober is no easy task, and that is why an anniversary date is so important.  That date represents so much more than just quitting drugs and alcohol. It is a day of dedication, rebirth and victory for all who work on their recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

Whether you are someone who is personally in recovery or not, you likely at least know some people who are.  When it comes to anniversaries, you may know some who celebrate their sober date, and some who do not.  However, you may be wondering if it’s a good idea and if it is appropriate for you to recognize and celebrate a friend or loved ones sober anniversary, or if you should keep quiet about it instead.  It is a great achievement, after all, but for some it is very personal.  Further, if you do recognize someone else’s sober anniversary, how should go about doing so?   Read on to find out more.

Should You Recognize Someone’s Sober Anniversary?

If you have a friend or loved one in your life who is walking along his or her personal path to recovery, you are surely very proud of him or her. The choice and journey that he or she has undertaken is amazing, yet very challenging. Each day that your relative or other loved one goes without using is a victory, and when he or she reaches major landmarks like a month, a year, or a decade clean, you likely want to cheer and give him or her a big pat on the back.

Most people in recovery will want to celebrate these milestones too. After all, they have worked very hard to get to where they are and have defeated temptation hundreds of times.  If someone has mentioned their sober date approaching or how long they have been in recovery so far, chances are that they plan to celebrate the date and wouldn’t mind you mentioning it or celebrating it with them, too.

On the other hand, for some people, a sober anniversary is a very personal and private affair. Although all actions and experiences in our lives work together to make us who we are, some people like to put the past behind them and don’t like to be reminded of their mistakes, even when the present is so positive.  In these cases, your friend or loved one may prefer that you don’t mention their anniversary, even if you happen to know it.  They may choose to ignore the date completely, or they may prefer to recognize it privately on their own.

If you are unsure if your loved one wants you to celebrate their sober anniversary with them or not, it certainly doesn’t hurt to just come right out and ask. They will likely prefer that you ask rather than moving forward with an unwanted celebration, or rather than expecting recognition but having you ignore the day completely.

The best way to deal with any question of behavior is simply to ask what is correct and what is preferred. Your friend or loved one certainly can’t fault you for that. 

How to Recognize Someone’s Sober Anniversary

If you do choose to celebrate and recognize a friend’s sober date with him or her, here are some great ideas to help make the day special.

Make sure you have the right date. Just like you wouldn’t want to get someone’s birthday incorrect, you don’t want to celebrate someone’s recovery on the incorrect date either. You may think you know when someone’s anniversary is, but if they fell victim to relapse somewhere along the way, they may have re-started their count all over. 40-60% of people working on their recovery from drug or alcohol addiction experience relapse somewhere along the way, and this is just a part of the process for many.   It doesn’t mean that they failed; what’s most important is that they are clean and sober now.  Many will be happy to celebrate their new sober date with you, too!

Take him or her out to dinner. A nice dinner in a fancy restaurant is a great way to celebrate any major achievement, just remember to pass on the wine, out of respect for the occasion. You can surprise your guest by choosing somewhere you know they like, or let them decide on the day of the event. This is a great way to spend time together one on one while reflecting on all of your loved one’s successes.

Write him or her a letter. A heartfelt letter of praise and celebration is a gift most will keep and treasure for years to come. If you knew the person when he or she was in the midst of his or her deepest struggles, it will be easy to write about your observations through the entire process and to express your joyous feelings about how far your friend has come.

Offer free childcare. Your friend or loved one will be so grateful to get out of the house and to spend some time alone reflecting on his or her journey and all that happened to get to the here and now. Sometimes all someone needs is an offer of free childcare for a few hours, or, if you can, a few days!  Getting away from the kids is relaxing for every single person with kids, so this sort of anniversary gift will likely be well received.

Make a gift from the heart. If you are crafty, your friend or loved one would love any kind of one-of-a-kind gift that you can create and offer to them. The art or item that you produce does not have to be directly related to their recovery journey, it can just be anything beautiful that you think they will like. Even if you don’t think you are that talented of an artist, anyone will appreciate an effort of this kind and a gift that truly and deeply comes from inside of you.

Donate to a sober charity. Now that your friend or loved one is doing well and is on the straight and narrow path, chances are that he or she often thinks about the others out there who are still suffering from addiction.  A great tribute to your friend’s successes is to donate to a charity in his or her name.  This donation, no matter how small, will help another person to get the help that they need.  This is a wonderful way to celebrate and recognize your friend’s recovery.

Celebrate!

The anniversary of anyone’s recovery is an important day in his or her life. Whether someone chooses to celebrate it independently or with help from you, a recovery anniversary is a day that should be recognized in celebration of all that has been achieved.  Celebrations remind people to continue moving forward for years to come, and will help to keep them remembering why they made this choice and change in the first place.

If you know someone addicted to drugs or alcohol, it’s imperative that you or your loved one gets clean and sober immediately, and we are here to help.   At Clear Sky Recovery, we offer ibogaine detox treatment at our facility in Cancun, Mexico.  Ibogaine detox has been called a form of “addiction interruption,” and can be extremely helpful to anyone wanting to start moving on a clean and healthy, drug free path.   Our intake specialists are standing by to answer your questions.  Please call us today.

Resources:

  1. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery