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Every Sober Day is a Win

People in recovery often downplay their time sober. They say things like, “I’ve been clean for seven days. I know it’s not much compared to some people.” The impulse to downplay is understandable. You may feel defensive. You may have tried to get sober before and relapsed. You might be competitive and feel the need to protect your achievement from people who have been sober longer. You may feel like you could relapse at any moment and you don’t want to set expectations too high.

The thing is, every sober day is a win that you should feel good about. If you’re talking to other recovering addicts, especially those who have been in recovery much longer than you, they know the struggle. Most of them still probably struggle. They also know starting out is the hardest part. You might still feel a bit wiped out from detox, especially if you did it the hard way. You haven’t yet had much practice dealing with cravings and avoiding triggers. You might still be trying to establish a healthy routine. Staying sober while trying to figure out a new way to live is not easy, and most people, especially others in recovery, appreciate that.

The longer you are are in recovery, the more likely you are to stay in recovery. You may be talking to someone with 10 years of sobriety, but she knows that it hasn’t been 10 years of first-week sobriety. Someone in her first year of recovery has a greater than 60 percent chance of relapse, whereas someone with five years or more has less than a 15 percent chance of relapse. It gets easier as you go. If someone does try to one-up you with his superior sober time, that’s his problem, not yours.

Another problem with disparaging your own achievement is that it creates, or reinforces, the habit of focusing on what you still have left to do. It’s like saying, “What do seven days matter when I have 18,000 or more left to go?” That’s a pretty overwhelming way to think about it. It’s far more productive to think, “I made it through the last seven days; I can make it through today.” No win is too small to build on. Made it through yesterday? Great! That means you can make it through today. You are the only one who really knows how hard it was for you to stay sober. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished.

Recovery is not a competition. Although addiction makes people behave in predictable ways, no recovery is the same. You have to resist the temptation to compare your progress to others. Recovery is a cooperative process, not a competitive one. Appreciate every day you stay sober and every day your fellow addicts stay sober.

If you or someone you love is struggling with addiction, Gardens Wellness Center can help. We offer medically assisted detox and we can help you find the treatment that is best for you. Call us today at 844-828-1050 or email us at to learn more.