The importance of rewarding

Much of the behaviours that you perform on a daily basis is learned behaviour. When your behaviour is rewarded, you will associate that behaviour with the reward. You’ll repeat the behaviour to receive the reward more often. When you are still coping with an active addiction, your addiction will often have been a form of rewarding. Now that you’ve quit your addiction, you want to teach yourself how to reward yourself in a different way.

An example: you have met an important deadline and, as a reward, you cook your favourite meal. When you associate a reward (a tasty home-cooked meal) with the behaviour (deadline met), you will perform this behaviour more often and the behaviour will become a habit. It is important that only healthy and functional behaviour is rewarded.

How can you reward yourself?

Rewards can come in many forms, for example, positive feedback, gifts, complimenting yourself or someone else or by doing things that you would like to do. Look for things that you find pleasant, fun and, above all, are a healthy way of rewarding yourself. By doing this, you can motivate yourself to continue with your recovery process.

Some ideas on how you can reward yourself:

  • Compliment yourself often. Others may not realize how difficult quitting is for you.
  • Take a walk. This will give you peace of mind and some distance.
  • Exercise! This is good for your fitness and gives you confidence.
  • If you’re struggling, go to a place where it’s not possible to relapse. For example: the cinema, the swimming pool, the sauna, the library. You can also visit someone who is not using.
  • Give yourself a gift every now and then. Or save up for a bigger reward, for example, for when you are clean for 6 months or a year. For example: a piece of jewellery, a magazine, a good book, a day out with the family or a holiday.


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