With the ongoing stresses of maintaining sobriety outside the walls of a center for alcohol and drug treatment, being able to reward oneself for accomplishments, milestones, and progress is vital. However, how one chooses to employ a rewards system will affect its efficacy; effectively rewarding oneself for accomplishments is a huge motivator. 

Rewards can take many forms, from events to monetary or tangible rewards. Balancing these systems with one’s continued sober efforts can create a sustained, positive relationship between an individual and their perspectives on ongoing recovery. 

The Importance of Rewarding Yourself

Recovery is stressful, no matter where one is on their personal journey. From the first step into detox to navigating a full year of sobriety, one’s needs, stresses, and goals will constantly change in recovery from substance abuse. Rewarding oneself for milestones and accomplishments is necessary to maintain motivation to push through these stresses and overcome any daily hurdles.

By setting goals and actively rewarding oneself for accomplishing them, an individual can see their true strides throughout recovery. Whether one is celebrating their first 24 hours without consuming alcohol or hosting a holiday party without drugs, it is crucial to focus on how genuinely transformative and potent these accomplishments are. Without actively rewarding oneself, it is possible that one may lose focus of the importance of these milestones, compromising emotional health or leading to feelings of fatigue, burnout, or feeling “stuck” in their recovery. 

Effective rewards empower and motivate an individual to continue building their resilience and effective sober practices. However, the most effective rewards are always personal and specific to each individual and their interests. Working with professionals to ensure goals aren’t too grandiose or too easy to accomplish can ensure that each person is creating an effective rewards system where their next goal is always within reach and something worth celebrating. 

Finding Your Best Rewards System

Rewards systems are personal plans that can be customized to fit each individual’s unique interests and hobbies. Keeping these rewards personal provides effective motivational properties, and there are many different avenues to explore to find each individual’s best reward system. 

#1. Treat Yourself to Shopping

Going out and buying something for oneself is an empowering feeling. For some, reaching their next milestone can come coupled with getting a new outfit, picking up a book or video game for entertainment, or getting new home decor. However, these actions are also powerful motivators. 

First, no matter where one is in their recovery journey, being able to explore personal interests and pursue new hobbies is crucial and facilitates the development of a sober identity. By providing an individual with an opportunity to purchase something solely for themself, an individual is forced to engage with their interests on a personal level. 

Getting a poster or other decoration for one’s living space also further provides safety and comfort in these spaces, helping to mitigate stresses in one’s own home. Pursuing interests in these rewards also ensures that they are rewards worth pursuing, continuing to motivate an individual. 

#2. Reward With Events

Rewards don’t necessarily have to be something that one can hold in their hand. Rather, treating oneself to an experience can be just as impactful. From helping to plan vacations to creating a perfect night in with family and friends, working toward an experiential reward can be just as effective. 

Being able to select a movie marathon and get together with close friends can be an exceptionally alluring reward for one’s hard work in recovery. Even regular events — such as a weekly game night where one chooses the game or selecting the restaurant when the family next goes out for lunch — are all ways to reward oneself while engaging with family, friends, and other members of the support system. 

Some experiential rewards could be: 

  • Planning a trip to a museum, theater, or art show
  • Seeing a live sporting event
  • Planning an at-home game or movie night
  • Introducing family and friends to a personal interest
  • Making a massage, manicure, pedicure, or other pampering appointments with friends or family
  • Getting tickets to a concert

Planning these events also has continued therapeutic value in the reward, with an individual exercising their own agency and responsibility in planning the reward outing. 

Creating Different Rewards

However one chooses to reward themself, it is essential to vary one’s rewards, with new milestones and accomplishments being met with new rewards along the way. This degree of variance ensures that one is not only continuously interested in the proposed reward for challenging one’s continued stresses but also that an individual doesn’t turn these rewards into a single coping strategy.

Individuals can develop an overreliance on a single activity, such as shopping or eating. By alternating tangible rewards, experiential rewards, and changing how one celebrates their accomplishments, an individual is constantly exposed to new experiences and interests along their sober journey.

Rewarding yourself for accomplishments is a continuous motivator in recovery, and there are many ways to reward yourself for each milestone hit. From building on personal interests to exploring new activities with family and friends, we at Hawaii Island Recovery champion the idea of taking pride in overcoming each hurdle in your recovery journey. Whether you are preparing to take your first step into a dedicated detox program or are continuing to build upon your sober coping strategies as an alumnus in ongoing care, our rehab in Hawaii is prepared to help you in any way we can. We offer outpatient therapy to create an inviting, accepting atmosphere of peers to share in your challenges and achievements. For more information on how we can personalize your time with us, or to speak to a caring, trained staff member about your unique needs and goals throughout recovery, call (866) 390-5070.