This week at South Orange County Detox & Treatment, in preparation for Christmas, we will be discussing the gifts that are granted to us during sobriety. I use the word granted somewhat lightly as the majority of these gifts are not granted but rather earned through a commitment to a new way of life where we ascend from the chains of bondage to instinctual desires to a higher plane of understanding and wisdom. It is in this realm, and only this realm, that true healing can begin. One of the first gifts I received, personally, was the reunification with my friends and family. Relationships that I had harvested throughout life had been utterly devastated by my drug and alcohol use were restored which reinvigorated my sense of connection to personal relationships and humanity as a whole. The empathy and compassion that was gifted to me, and of which I also worked for, also helped facilitate a new perspective in myself that prioritized understanding and honesty over manipulation and personal gain. It is important to note also that the gifts we receive in recovery are qualitatively different than those we would assume to gain while in addiction. Recovery gifts are composed of lasting qualities that aid us in persevering through difficult times. In other words, these gifts tend to express their value over time as opposed to the immediate gratification that comes from more hedonistic pleasure. To use an analogy, would you prefer to eat a microwavable Salisbury Steak or a brisket that has been slow cooked to perfection over the course of the day? Lest one be a sadist, the answer is obvious. We sacrifice the immediacy of pleasure for the prospect of a more quality experience to come later which is exactly the perspective we need in recovery to fully appreciate the gifts that come along with it. On a more basic level, we there are gifts that appear in the form of restored physical heath, a reconnection to our emotions and a reintegration of them into our experiences, and the psychological clarity that allows us to make rationally-based decisions. There are also “higher-order” gifts that come with sobriety such as a renewed sense of the importance of integrity, a commitment to honesty in relation to others and ourselves, a replenished sense of spirit or the connection to one’s Higher Power, and the reclamation of a solid sense of who we are and what our purpose is. In the first edition of the Big Book, Bill speaks of the ascension of addicts into sobriety and states, “We have found much of heaven and we have been rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we had not even dreamed.” I was quite shocked to see Bill W. this type of terminology to explain the experience of addicts as it is far more existential than his typical message. The reason I chose this quote, however, is because it highlights, with perfect accuracy, the experience of one who is deeply committed to their sobriety as well as personal evolution and growth. Bill is not being hyperbolic but rather stating his path of rising to a different plane of perception that requires much more from us human beings, but that promises that a commitment to this journey will not only be rewarding, but will propel us into an elevated level of understanding, acceptance, wisdom and serenity, the likes of which we have never experienced.