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Before I entered sobriety, I was often miserable. I woke up many mornings feelings run down and hungover, wondering what I had said and done the night before. When I found out, a feeling of shame often stayed with me for days. I wasn’t a person I was happy with or proud of, and I often wondered if I would ever get back to being that person.

In recovery, I’ve been able to get back to being that person. It has taken time and patience, but today I can say I am proud of the person I am. Being in recovery has allowed me to reshape my life, and it can allow you to do the same. Here are just a few of the best gifts sobriety can give you, given the chance.

1. It allows you the ability to be present for every moment.

When I was drinking, there was always an excuse to include alcohol in different moments in life. If something bad happened, I would drink in order to overshadow it and hopefully forget it. If something good happened, I would drink in celebration. More often than not, I would have blurry recollections of the good and the bad things that happened in my life. In recovery, this is no longer the case. Recovery allows you to be fully present and aware of every moment in life. Sometimes, like in the sad moments, this is difficult, but remaining sober allows you to work through your emotions and difficult circumstances. In the good situations, recovery allows you to fully recall and savor each moment. Being present in your life is not always easy, but you’ll find that it’s much more rewarding than drinking to escape it.

2. It gives you the chance to find yourself.

Like many who struggle with addiction, the time I spent drinking was time taken away from other aspects of my life. Rather than spend time focusing on passions or hobbies, most free time was spent drinking or making plans to drink. I let the other things I enjoyed doing slip to the wayside as alcohol took a front seat in my life. In recovery, I’ve been able to rediscover what it is I enjoy doing. Recovery allows you the chance to utilize your newfound free time in any way you’d like, whether that be reading, writing, taking photos, or working out. As you begin dedicating more time to your hobbies, you’ll realize how detrimental drinking was to other important parts of your life.

3. It benefits your physical health.

Sobriety Sign in SunlightIt’s no secret that alcohol can take a toll on your body. Given enough time, it can wreak havoc on your liver, along with other internal organs. Even if the damage has not reached that extreme level, alcohol intake can affect your body in other ways. It has the potential to make you bloated, contribute to weight gain, and inflict terrible hangovers and withdrawals. The chance is good that when drinking, you just write these off as part of the tradeoff for drinking. When you remove alcohol from the equation, you’ll likely be shocked at how much better you feel physically in the short and long-term.

4. It takes tension out of your relationships.

When you have a problem with alcohol, chances are you probably have problems in some of your relationships as well. Excessive drinking takes a toll on relationships as time passes. People may become tired of giving you second chances or fed up with hearing that you didn’t mean what you said while drinking. Eventually, some people may even cut you out of their lives. When you remove alcohol from the picture, relationships become much more manageable than when you were drinking. You have full control over yourself and your actions. You are able to apologize and make amends, and maybe even rebuild relationships. Being sober will allow you to do all that and more when it comes to the people in your life.

5. It allows you to be proud of yourself for taking control of your life.

When I was drinking, I always felt as if everything was beyond my control. Alcohol had a way of taking over and dictating my life, leading me to do and say things I didn’t mean. I often woke up disappointed in myself and my actions, with a sense of shame lingering overhead for days at a time. Now, in recovery, I have become a person I can be proud of. The truth is that each day in recovery, you choose to remain sober to let yourself live a better life. You get to start fresh and know that your actions are in your control, and your control alone. You get to build yourself up each day and lead a life that you can be proud of once again.

The gifts provided by recovery can’t be simplified into a list. Even after four years, I am still discovering more blessings daily. The truth is that recovery is what you make of it. If you give it a full chance, you’ll find yourself living a full, happy life once again.

About the Author

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a Minnesota girl who got sober at age 20. In her day-to-day life, she works as a reporter at the local newspaper. Her passions are writing about recovery at Lifetobecontinued.com, doing graphic design, and spending time with her boyfriend and three dogs.

She hopes her writing can bring clarity to other young people struggling with addiction and let them know they are far from alone.