Motivation is usually fairly easy to come by at the beginning of sobriety. Very few people decide on a program of recovery on a whim. Most of us come to recovery programs in states of near or actual desperation. Some of us come literally fighting for our lives, others in real despair.

The Search to Stay Motivated in Recovery

Motivated? We’re very motivated.

And then the magic happens. We go to meetings, we work the steps, we take things one day at a time. Those days add up, and the weeks and months pass. We start to get back some of what we lost. We start, perhaps, to get things we never had.

As the fear and confusion lift, the urgency to center our recovery may lift as well. When I got sober, I had no job, few friends left, no money, and I was living in a halfway house. I had all the time in the world to prioritize sobriety. Then a job came, friends came back and I acquired a whole new set of responsibilities. The motivation to focus on sobriety began to diminish.

Remember the Pain That Brought You Here

So how do we stay motivated in recovery? The first key is the one you’ll hear over and over again: never forget what brought you to your knees. You have a “daily reprieve contingent upon the maintenance of your spiritual condition,” and you can have a swift refund of all your misery if you want it.

Remembering the last drink, the last bet, the last hit, the last acting out—and more to the point, remembering how it made you feel—is crucial to stay motivated in recovery.

As long as you remember clearly where you came from, you won’t ever want to go back.

Remember That Others Need You

The second key is remembering that you have so much to give that others need. And you can start to give almost right away. If you want to be a doctor, you need to study for years before you’re in a position to help people. If you’re three days sober, you have a tool you can share with someone who has only two days of sobriety.

There is nothing more motivating than knowing you are needed. And if you are in recovery, you always are.