We tend to be a goal-oriented culture. We are taught from an early age to mark major events and commemorate achievements. Parents keep track of our first steps, when we first talked, looking for any sign we are ahead of development averages. In school, our teachers hand out gold stars for good behavior. We want credit, and extra credit, wherever we can get it. So of course this expectation carries over into addiction treatment.

Recovery from substance abuse is almost never completely over, so it's important that we celebrate milestones in recovery by recognizing progress and inspiring others.

Recovery is an ongoing process without a definite end. For many addicts, there is never a point where they consider themselves “cured” of substance abuse, simply in an ongoing state of remission. They work hard every day to resist cravings and avoid relapse, knowing how little it could take to tip them back into full-blown addiction.

This can be discouraging for some. There is no major celebratory moment in this situation, no “Mission Accomplished” banner or graduation ceremony to mark an end to addiction worries. There is simply the continual struggle, fighting the good fight to remain sober and out of the clutches of addiction.

But there is much to celebrate in recovery, nonetheless. In the early days, every day is a day to celebrate that the addict refrains from relapse. And such milestones can mount up. There’s a reason many 12-step programs give out chips or tokens to commemorate anniversaries, and not just annual ones, but ones counted by weeks or months in the early stages of recovery. Any amount of time sober is a thing to celebrate.

But milestones are most important in that they encourage community with others. Personal goals are important and worth marking, but major milestones are best celebrated with others. Not only do public celebrations allow you to mark vital occasions with friends and companions, but they also allow you to serve as an inspiration to others. 

Showing current addicts and recovering addicts even newer to sobriety to yourself that you can become, and stay, sober for a certain length of time is a perfect way to inspire them, and yourself, with your accomplishment. This makes each milestone not just a personal goal, but a community celebrating the success of one of its own.

Good Landing Recovery knows it’s important to celebrate milestones, encouraging patients to mark these occasions and using them to inspire others to reach their own milestones. Their program makes a point of keeping track of accomplishments and emphasizing their importance to each and every patient.

The success of one recovering addict can mean the success of the community of recovering addicts. And such successes can mean even more to each and every member of that community, whether a formal support group, a gathering of friends or just acquaintances through treatment, if they are celebrated in a public manner.

Celebrating milestones in recovery is therefore incredibly important, for you and everyone you know. By recognizing progress, you can in turn inspire others.