A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.
When a friend or loved one enters recovery, it’s safe to assume that they’re experiencing both physical and emotional challenges. Their treatment regime will likely encourage a deeper commitment to self-care, nutrition, fitness, relaxation, and personal reward. While your supportive presence is, in and of itself, a priceless gift, early sobriety ushers in opportunities for some more creative gift-giving as well. To show your support for your friend or loved one’s journey or to help celebrate those early recovery milestones, consider the following ideas:
Coffee Club Membership
A Book on Mindfulness
A Date with Nature
An Evening Cooking Class
A Date With Her Inner-Child
Sparkling Water Machine
Rediscovering the joys of self-care is a key element to early recovery. Studies indicate that a massage is far more than a relaxing indulgence, but also improves anxiety, depression, and countless physical ailments. For an addict in early recovery, a massage also serves as an important reminder that relaxation and escape can be achieved in healthy ways.
A massage is just like a movie, really relaxing and a total escape, except in a massage you’re the star. And you don’t miss anything by falling asleep!
― Elizabeth Jane Howard
More often than not, my clients in early recovery cite their morning cup of coffee as one of their favorite daily rewards. For many, an association is being established between productive, hangover-free mornings and newly introduced rituals and routines. Several coffee companies now offer “curated” memberships through which different beans and roasts can be sampled.
It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.
― Dave Barry
Many addiction recovery programs are now incorporating mindfulness routines into the treatment planning process. Activities like meditation and yoga encourage addicts to inhabit the present more fully while equipping them with invaluable coping techniques. There are countless books on the subject that cater to both novices and those more fully immersed in their practice.
Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
― Groucho Marx
It’s no mistake that two-thirds of people seeking refuge from stress head for a natural setting. Being outdoors heals and many recovery programs are incorporating this nature connection into their interventions. Be it a picnic at the park, a day of hiking, or a relaxing morning on the beach, your loved one will relish in the benefits of some time in the great outdoors.
If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.
—Rainer Maria Rilke
Many addicts entering treatment express a concern that life without drugs or alcohol will be boring. Rediscovering a sense of adventure is an important step in the recovery process. Consider taking your loved one out for a day of whitewater rafting, zip lining, or skydiving. In addition to securing a natural adrenaline rush, the outing can serve as an opportunity for the two of you to connect in new and meaningful ways.
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
― Eleanor Roosevelt
For many addicts, the evening hours prove the most challenging. Oftentimes, a hard day of work was capped off with an evening of self-medication. A nighttime cooking class will take the focus off of alcohol or drugs while producing delicious results. And if cooking doesn’t interest your loved one, peruse local Meetups or a continuing education catalog from a nearby school.
No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.
― Laurie Colwin
The power of journaling is often highlighted in recovery programs and, for many addicts, becomes a lifelong habit. Available journals run the gamut from traditional leather-bound blank books to those with reflective daily prompts and spaces for sketching. Get a sense of the type of journaling your loved one is engaged in as you explore the diverse prospects.
Documenting little details of your everyday life becomes a celebration of who you are.
― Carolyn V. Hamilton
As your loved one defines the new meaning of fun in their life, consider staging a day of blissful, childish escape. Whether you dive into a cotton-candy fueled fair day, a local petting zoo, or an afternoon at the giant indoor trampoline emporium, your loved one will embrace the opportunity to let go and laugh a little.
For in every adult there dwells the child that was, and in every child there lies the adult that will be.
― John Connolly
In addition to some of the more serious assignments I give to my clients in early recovery, I often encourage the creation of a signature “mocktail”. For alcoholics in particular, having a delicious go-to drink in the evenings can stave off those pesky cravings. Companies like SodaStream offer affordable and easy-to-use machines that take the world of homespun mocktails to a new level. Experimenting with flavors and fresh fruits will afford your loved ones with a fun evening distraction.
It’s a great advantage not to drink among hard drinking people.
― F. Scott Fitzgerald
While events like graduations, weddings, and birthdays carry a great deal of fanfare, it can be difficult for many addicts to act in self-congratulatory ways. Yet, in early recovery, each day can feel like a milestone. Consider commemorating your loved one’s commitment to sobriety by personalizing a meaningful object. On sites like Etsy, everything from guitar picks to journals can be designed to include important dates or quotes. Your loved one will undoubtedly be grateful to receive such a personal acknowledgement of the progress she has made.
Sometimes the smallest victories in life are more rewarding than the greatest milestones.
― Katie Kacvinsky
Whether you surprise your newly sober loved one with a day of pampering or a quiet hike on some local trails, rest assured, the gesture will be appreciated. The pitfalls of early recovery can be difficult to navigate and your support and involvement will make a difference.
Jen Anderson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Sobriety Coach, and former alcohol enthusiast living in Florida with her husband and son.