Cultivating An Attitude of Gratitude in Recovery

By Jack, Renascent Alumni, March 8 – April 12, 2022

What have I done? Who have I become? Look at all this money I owe. What does my wife think of me? Many of the feelings and thoughts we have in early recovery are filled with shame, regret, and remorse. It’s hard to find things to be grateful for when the world seems so dark. 

As you continue to abstain from drugs and alcohol a very interesting phenomena takes place. Thousands of lectures, papers and thesis’s have been written on the chemical changes that occur in the brain when you subtract intoxicating substances. I have read many of them. But let me account to you what happened to me, in my own mind.

By one month I had noticed the disappearance of ‘brain fog’ I no longer forgot people’s name after I met them. I slept better. No longer had trouble remembering what I had ate for breakfast. By two months I noticed I could recall memories with better clarity. My skin became clearer. I began to walk taller, feel stronger. By three months of sobriety a very strange and new feeling came about me. I had felt this way before. It felt like the only time I had done LSD. But different. I felt a new kind of high. Life seemed good. Life seemed easy. Life seemed happy. But I hadn’t had a drink or drug in 90 days, how could this be?

I believe with the subtraction of drugs and alcohol, my mind was able to have oppressed upon in it a unique practice, gratitude. Not so long ago I lived in a world of misery and poverty. But no more power of the mind is needed to live in misery and poverty than is to demand abundance and riches. How one can do that is by taking a different view on the things that lay before them. I have food today. This is good. I have shelter today. This is good. Other than that the human being does not need much else. When you can boil life down to the bare minimum you are able to rebuild upon a fresh slate.

I practice gratitude every day, in many ways. My boss digs into me for submitting work late? I’m grateful he raised his opinion, and I can use it to fuel the fire to do better next time. My wife is mad that I forgot to take the trash out? I’m grateful she let me know I need to develop new tools to schedule my time more appropriately. Someone cut me off in traffic? I’m grateful I have a sense of serenity to not worry about such a miniscule disruption to my day.

Gratitude is the most powerful tool in serenity. It allows you to become at peace with who you are. To allow you to appreciate what you have. To let a person live lighthearted and care free, knowing all is well.

Only through my journey in sobriety was I able to find the practice of gratitude. And without it, I’m not quite sure I would still be here. Able to be clear.

Happy 24,


About the Authors

Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email