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Best Gifts for a Recovering Alcoholic Friend

January 23, 2024
20 min read
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A team of researchers and psychologists who specialize in behavioral health and neuroscience. This group collaborates to produce insightful and evidence-based content.
January 23, 2024
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Certified recovery coach specialized in helping everyone redefine their relationship with alcohol. His approach in coaching focuses on habit formation and addressing the stress in our lives.
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Recognized by Fortune and Fast Company as a top innovator shaping the future of health and known for his pivotal role in helping individuals change their relationship with alcohol.
January 23, 2024
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Reframe Content Team
January 23, 2024
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Worry-Free Gifting: Top 5 Best Gifts for a Recovering Alcoholic

  • While alcohol is a common gift idea and present in a lot of celebrations and experiences in our everyday lives, it is not something that a person in recovery needs.

  • There are many gift ideas for every personality that can help a friend in recovery feel loved and cared for that do not revolve around alcohol. 

  • Reframe offers plans to help you change your relationship to alcohol and better understand your loved one in recovery. 

Alcohol is one of the most common gifts in our society today. From buying someone a drink after work to gifting expensive wine bottles at life milestones, alcohol is often seen as a token of appreciation. Alcohol is also often the center of many celebrations and social gatherings, making it difficult to think of a quality gift for alcoholics in recovery.

Going through recovery from addiction to alcohol is no easy task. Having support from loved ones can be crucial to someone in recovery trying to stay on the right track. Having a better understanding of what recovery entails can help you choose the right gift for recovering alcoholics in your life. A gift can show you truly care about someone, but the wrong gift may end up triggering or offending them. To make things a bit easier, let’s take a look at what makes a good gift for someone in recovery and offer some ideas for you to show your support for the person you care about.

What Someone in Recovery May Be Experiencing

Before getting into different ideas on gifts for recovering addicts, it’s important to understand what someone in recovery may be going through. This can help you get a better idea of what tools and resources may be helpful for someone during this time, leading to a more thoughtful and meaningful recovery gift. 

There are different stages of recovery which may be accompanied by different feelings and symptoms. When buying a gift, it’s helpful to know where they’re at in their journey. The four most notable stages of recovery from addiction are as follows:

  • Pre-contemplation. This phase is when someone does not recognize that there may be a problem. The best gift during this stage would be resources that can help them recognize that they may have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol — or anything to show them that you’re ready to be part of their recovery support system.
  • Preparation. Once a person acknowledges that their relationship with alcohol may be a problem, they enter the preparation phase. Helpful recovery gifts in this phase include encouragement and support that empowers them to get the help they need. 
  • Action. In the action phase of recovery, a person may be experiencing withdrawal symptoms. They may have mood swings or socially withdraw. In this case, remember the journey they’re on and encourage them with uplifting gifts.
  • Maintenance. This is the longest phase of recovery — hopefully, it lasts the rest of their life! At this time, gifts can be less focused on their recovery, but it’s important to avoid anything that may trigger their former behavior or remind them of that time.

When cutting back or quitting alcohol, a person may experience withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms in the early acute stages of withdrawal may include anxiety, nausea, headaches, and tremors. Later withdrawal symptoms typically include mood swings, reduced energy, insomnia, temptation, and isolation. These symptoms can show up in various ways and to different degrees throughout their recovery and well into their sobriety, but they are most prevalent in the beginning. Helpful presents during the early and middle stages of recovery include healthy distractions and recovery gifts that make them feel comfortable and ease any uncomfortable symptoms.

The first step is determining someone's phase of recovery. That knowledge will help you choose a thoughtful gift to help you choose the right one.

What Is a Good Gift for Those in Recovery?

A good gift is always one that shows you care for someone. A good recovery gift shows your understanding of what they might be going through. Some helpful questions to keep in mind when looking for a gift include:

  • What are the person’s core interests? Think of activities the person enjoys that do not revolve around alcohol. These hobbies or activities might be ones they currently enjoy or others they set aside due to their drinking. Someone recovering from addiction may have lost interest in those other activities and hobbies. Helping them find their love for other interests can help them find meaning in other healthy activities that do not involve alcohol.
  • What do they need in this phase of recovery? Remember the phases of recovery. Nurture any interests that could blossom into a new hobby for them. When trying to regain control of their life after quitting, finding a hobby can help them focus on things other than alcohol.
  • What symptoms or feelings might they be experiencing currently? If a person is experiencing withdrawal symptoms, self-care gifts may be the way to go. A recovering alcoholic in a later stage may be experiencing isolation, and a shared activity or experience may be a helpful way to show your support. 
  • What are potential triggers for them? The best gifts for recovering alcoholics are mindful of potential triggers and motivate them to continue on their journey to health. The most obvious triggers are alcohol and alcohol-related activities, but individuals may have more personal triggers that can be harder to identify.

Top 5 Gift Categories for Recovering Alcoholics

Now that we have explored what makes a good gift for someone in recovery, let’s take a look at the some specific categories that make for top-notch gifts for recovering alcoholics. 

Self-Care Gifts

Self-care gift baskets can help someone pamper and take extra care of themselves at a time when they may be grappling with shame and low self-esteem. Items in this category can help reduce uncomfortable symptoms of withdrawal, help to ease anxiety, and remind them to be kind to themselves. 

Notable self-care recovery gifts include pamper baskets with a person’s favorite snacks, spa-day treatments, comfortable robes or socks, candles, and bath products. These are suitable for a person in any stage of recovery, but many find that self-care gifts can be especially thoughtful during the period of withdrawal.

Adventures and Experiences

Spending quality time with someone can make them feel less isolated and help them keep their mind off unwanted thoughts. Participating in an activity can be a healthy distraction and help them develop new hobbies and interests.

Some adventure gifts for recovering alcoholics include going on a hike, taking a trip, participating in a class, and pursuing a new hobby. Especially during the maintenance phase, people in recovery may struggle with temptations, so it is extremely helpful to have healthy distractions to help them stay on track. In the later stages, many people also find themselves feeling more isolated. Spending quality time with a loved one in recovery helps them feel supported and encourages them to keep going. 

Gifts Cards or Subscriptions

Gift cards are always a great way to go when you’re not sure what someone needs. After getting sober, a loved one may be relearning how to manage money. A gift card can help them celebrate their journey to health while taking a bit off their financial burden. Gift cards can be very personal — consider gift cards to their favorite stores, grocery store gift cards, or a subscription related to their favorite best-liked entertainment. You could try a premium subscription to their of choice podcast, a magazine about one of their interests, or even a bacon-of-the month club! 

Fidgets or Gadgets

Small fidget toys such as a Rubik’s Cube or fidget ring can help ease immediate compulsions and anxiety. Small tokens are also extremely customizable. For instance, you can choose a gift in the person’s favorite color to make it more meaningful. When out and about, it can sometimes be difficult for someone in recovery to manage triggerS. Having something on hand to ease these symptoms can make staying away from alcohol a bit more manageable. While these gadgets may seem small, they can be a big help and provide tangible distractions for someone in recovery.

Books or Movies

Books and movies make for great distractions and can also be a helpful tool for self-improvement. Book options range from pure entertainment to educational self-help strategies to help them develop positive skills. A journal can also be a great gift. During recovery, a person may experience a lot of emotions that may be helpful to process through journaling. It can also serve as a reminder for how far they have come, making for a great motivational recovery gift.

Recovery Gifts for Her

Although gifts are need not be gender-specific, some popular options for the women in your life in recovery from addiction.

  • Gardening kit. For the woman with a green thumb, a gardening kit or packet of seeds can help them enjoy a healthy hobby. Plus, gardening is proven to reduce depression and anxiety.
  • Camping trip. For the adventurous woman, a camping trip is a great way to break up routines and engage in some serious nature therapy.
  • Engraved jewelry. For the sentimentalist, a personalized piece of jewelry can be a heartfelt reminder of your bond.
  • Aromatherapy kit. For homebodies and introverts, an aromatherapy kit is a great way to help them enrich their space and turn their home environment into a peaceful sanctuary.

Recovery Gifts for Him

Men and women in recovery experience many of the same physical symptoms, but natural psychological differences based on brain chemistry and social expectations make the emotional experience very different. Let’s look at some gift ideas catered to a male loved one.

  • Tickets to a game. For the sports fanatic, tickets to see their favorite team can be great. Since alcohol and sports go hand-in-hand, consider making it a sober group outing. This approach can help them develop a framework for enjoying sports while sober, surrounded by people modeling healthy behavior. If this idea triggers them, plan a sober watch party at home!
  • Exercise equipment. Exercise is crucial to overall health and wellness, and fitness often takes a backseat during periods of alcohol misuse because alcohol exhausts and depletes the body. Weights, running gear, or other sports equipment can inspire them to nurture this part of their well-being.
  • Toolkit or tools. This isn’t just for the handyman! Completing a DIY project releases dopamine (the “feel good” chemical) into our system. During recovery, our brain is starved for dopamine. The sense of accomplishment can  momentum to stay on the path to recovery and give them a healthy way to feel good.
  • Cookbook. Cooking a meal not only provides a sense of accomplishment, but it’s also an act of self-care. Nourishment is especially important in recovery for helping restore the balance of neurotransmitters caused by alcohol misuse.

Gifts To Avoid for Recovering Alcoholics

There are so many options for gifts for recovering alcoholics, but there are also some gifts to savoid. Some are more obvious, while others may be more personal triggers .

Addiction-Specific Gifts

Stay away from addiction-specific gifts for alcoholics in recovery, as these can isolate and label someone as an addict. While that may not be your intention, these recovery gifts may put alcohol as the main focus and can be harmful for a person’s progress. It may seem meaningful to recognize their choice to recover from addiction, but labels can be isolating and demeaning for some. Examples of these may include mugs or personalized gifts that use the term “addict,” as these may belittle a person’s accomplishments. 

Alcohol-Related Gifts

Alcohol is the obvious choice to stay away from, but even alcohol-related gag gifts can be invalidating to someone's exerpience. Even though it may seem humorous, an alcohol-connected  gift might serve as more a trigger than a support tool. As there are so many other options for gifts, stay away from alcohol-related gifts, no matter how amusing they might seem.


While money may seem like a great gift for someone in recovery, it could be overwhelming lead to negative spending habits. Try to give the gift of time instead. Arrange for a meal prep service or offer to babysit or clean for them. For those who are dedicating much of their time to recovery and getting their life back on track, having help for tasks they need to complete is extremely meaningful and useful.

Wrapping Up

Now that you have a bunch of ideas, bring a smile to your loved one's face with any one of these gifts! Recovery can be a tough battle, but a thoughtful gift can make a deep impact on them..

Summary FAQs

1. Why is a recovery gift important?

A quality recovery gift can serve as a reminder of your support and provide motivation for someone to keep on their journey to better health.

2. Why does the stage in recovery matter when choosing a recovery gift?

Different stages of recovery from addiction come with different challenges and experiences. Recognizing the stage someone is in can help you choose a more relevant gift to support them in what they are currently going through.

3. What makes a good recovery gift?

A good recovery gift speaks to someone's stage of recovery and gives them the encouragement that they are on the right track.

4. What are the best gift ideas for a recovering alcoholic?

The best gifts for recovering addicts include self-care tools, healthy distractions, self-help resources, and company.

5. What are some gifts to avoid?

Gifts to avoid for someone in recovery include money, addiction-specific items, and anything alcohol related.

Looking to Support a Loved One in Recovery? Reframe Gives You the Tools You Need!

As your loved one is on their recovery journey, it can be a radical show of support to use the moment to reexamine your own relationship with alcohol.

Although it isn’t a treatment for alcohol use disorder (AUD), the Reframe app can help you cut back on drinking gradually, with the science-backed knowledge to empower you 100% of the way. Our proven program has helped millions of people around the world drink less and live more. And we want to help you get there, too!

The Reframe app equips you with the knowledge and skills you need to not only survive drinking less, but to thrive while you navigate the journey. Our daily research-backed readings teach you the neuroscience of alcohol, and our in-app Toolkit provides the resources and activities you need to navigate each challenge.

You’ll meet millions of fellow Reframers in our 24/7 Forum chat and daily Zoom check-in meetings. Receive encouragement from people worldwide who know exactly what you’re going through! You’ll also have the opportunity to connect with our licensed Reframe coaches for more personalized guidance.

Plus, we’re always introducing new features to optimize your in-app experience. We recently launched our in-app chatbot, Melody, powered by the world’s most powerful AI technology. Melody is here to help as you adjust to a life with less (or no) alcohol. 

And that’s not all! Every month, we launch fun challenges, like Dry/Damp January, Mental Health May, and Outdoorsy June. You won’t want to miss out on the chance to participate alongside fellow Reframers (or solo if that’s more your thing!).

The Reframe app is free for 7 days, so you don’t have anything to lose by trying it. Are you ready to feel empowered and discover life beyond alcohol? Then download our app through the App Store or Google Play today! 

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