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The Importance of Gratitude in Relationships During Recovery

Gratitude in Relationships

Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing brain disorder. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) explains substance use disorder as a complex, neurological “condition in which there is uncontrolled use of substance despite harmful consequence.” Addiction encourages the development and reinforcement of harmful patterns and behaviors that corrode relationships. The nature of this disease is all-encompassing, and therefore individuals struggling with an active addiction are inherently more prone to harmful relationship habits to satisfy substance cravings and accommodate their addiction. The development of substance use disorder does not occur immediately, nor will recovering from addiction be achieved instantaneously. Treatment for addiction will require an overhaul of one’s mental and behavioral health.

The Importance of Gratitude 

Gratitude is generally defined as a disposition or characteristic that allows an individual to perceive and appreciate the positive and meaningful aspects of life. Positive psychology, which is defined as “the scientific study of human flourishing, and an applied approach to optimal functioning,” and gratitude are known to play a significant role in addiction recovery. Gratitude can be a powerful and transformative force, not only for the individual in recovery but also for their loved ones. Empirical evidence highlights several reasons why gratitude is crucial in relationships during recovery:

  • Reduces stress, fear, and anxiety: As explained by Dr. Susan Ferguson, a neuroscientist at the Center for Integrative Brain Research at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, “when we express gratitude and receive the same, it acts as a catalyst for neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine, which are crucial in managing emotions, anxiety, and immediate stress responses.”
  • Sustains motivation: Expressing gratitude can prevent complacency and serve as a reminder of the importance of maintaining sobriety. Additionally, gratitude can reinforce an individual’s motivation to stay in recovery, as they recognize the positive impact it has on their relationships and overall quality of life.

A barrage of research substantiates the notion that a practice of gratitude leads to greater levels of happiness and other positive emotions, improved mental and physical health, and stronger interpersonal relationships. Hence, encouraging individuals in recovery to express and cultivate gratitude can significantly contribute to their healing journey and enhance treatment outcome. 

For Information and Support 

Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous and can result in severe short and long-term consequences. If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to leading happy, healthy, and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone, and we are here to help. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction. We are available anytime via telephone at: 213-389-9964, or you can always email us at:

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