In recovery, the word "time" stands for Things I Must Earn. Time spent working the Twelve Steps is time well spent. The good news is that the rewards you'll earn are huge if you're willing to hang in there—and trust me, everything takes longer than you think it should. So, here are the top five things to look forward to in long-term recovery. 1. You get yourself back. Your spirit reawakens. I know this is true because it's guaranteed by Step 12, where the Big Book says, "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps…" In other words, if you acknowledge the problem and accept the need for spiritual help in steps 1, 2, and 3, find out that you're not the worst person in the world and that you're actually a pretty good egg in 4-7, make amends in 8 and 9, and continue to grow spiritually in 10 and 11 through prayer, meditation, and taking responsibility for your behavior, your spirit will reawaken. When your spirit reawakens, you don't need to drink or use, hurt other people, or hurt yourself. And when you subtract the alcohol, drugs, or other addictive behaviors or substances, you finally get to meet the most wonderful person in your world. You. Let the greatest love of all begin. 2. You get your family back. They're sick and tired of the lies, the embarrassment, the arrests, and so on. But in most cases, family members really do come back. This includes your family of origin—your parents and siblings who most likely felt burned by your behavior while you were "out there." Give them time. Just because you say you're clean and sober doesn't mean they're going to believe it right out of the gate. But if you do give them time, and you are sincere about your recovery, your amends, and the way you treat them going forward, there's an excellent chance that the people you love will be able to put past events behind you. This isn't always the case, however. Some people will not be able to forgive you, and some things may simply be unforgivable. So you may just have to accept that and get on with your life. 3. You'll get your money back. The Big Book says that alcoholics, and by extension all addicts, have a higher earning potential than "civilians." Maybe it's because we are constantly trying to make up for lost time or because we alcoholics and addicts are extraordinarily charismatic and driven. Whatever the reason, it's amazing how much money you can hang onto when you're not putting it in the "blood bank"—handing it to the dealer man, or buying rounds for total strangers at the bar. 4. You get your career back. As the expression goes, I have more degrees than a thermometer. But a job was impossible in my field when I got sober because I had burned every bridge. My sponsor told me to go out and get a "sobriety job." This is where you take any job that brings in an hourly wage, and it doesn't have to be in your chosen field. In fact, it's probably better if it's not in your chosen field. The purpose of a sobriety job is to demonstrate to yourself that your time is actually worth something to employers. This is old school AA. After your sobriety job, it will amaze you how God and members of your fellowship will see to it that your career gets back on track. AA is not a hiring hall, but people will step up and offer you jobs. Of course, no alcoholic or addict wants a job—we all want a position. Get over yourself. When I was newly sober, I used to listen to a speaker tape over and over in which the formerly highly-compensated executive asked his sponsor, "When will I know I'm ready to have a lot of money again?" Said the sponsor, "You'll know you're ready for it when you have it." 5. You'll get your dignity back. There is nothing dignified about active addiction. Blacking out, throwing up on yourself, missing work or school, lying, applying makeup to eliminate those black circles under your eyes—there's just simply no dignity in any of that. Sobriety means living with dignity and self-respect. It's a great way to live. Give yourself time, and watch all these wonderful gifts crowd into your life.