One Day At A Time

I have had the opportunity to catch up on some blog reading, and an interesting theme came up for me, which is the mention of possibly the most common AA expression:  one day at a time.  Ask any person with long-term sobriety how they achieved this goal, and their answer will almost certainly be “one day at a time.”

I surprised to read that “one day at a time” does not work for people, that they have to commit to a lifetime approach to sobriety in order to be successful.  I want to share a story, I may have mentioned it in passing before, but I will re-tell it, because it was the very first time that “one day at a time” really worked for me.

I have mentioned that the first few months of my sobriety were fear-based; in other words, I stayed sober because fear of consequences outweighed the desire to alter myself chemically.  The next few months were probably, in looking back, “pink cloud” months.  For those not familiar with recovery jargon, the term “pink cloud” refers to a period of time where the addict experiences a reprieve from the struggles associated with early recovery.  I was choosing recovery for me, not anyone else, and I was proud of the accomplishments I was achieving.

Somewhere around the 6 month mark, I was having a completely uneventful day… nothing bad, nothing great… and out of nowhere the thought came to me:  “Will I really not be able to have a champagne toast at my daughter’s wedding?”

Please bear in mind, readers, at the time of that thought, my daughter was 12 years old, so why I needed to ponder this at all remains a mystery.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I ran with that thought and spent a good few minutes depressed and self-pitying… woe is me!  I can’t have a sip of champagne years from now!  But this is how addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful, if you let these thoughts take root.

Fortunately, I did not, and after a few minutes of worrying about this future quandary, I pulled the “one day at a time” tool out of my tool box.  I asked myself, “can you refrain from drinking or using a drug today?

I can remember where I was at that moment in time, the relief I felt was that palpable.  All I had to do was get through today without ingesting anything mind-altering.  As soon as I re-focused on the present day, my serenity returned.  I can let tomorrow take care of itself, because all I’ve got is today.

Anyway, that is why “one day at a time” is a key part of my recovery:  it is like a get out of jail free card, where the jail is my addictive mindset!

Today’s Miracle:

For the first time in recorded history, I am completely ready for the first day of school, and I still have 6 days to go!

Posted on August 28, 2013, in Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I only ever use my one day at a time get out of jail free card when I have a craving. Other than that, only NO NO NEVER works for this addict.

    You seem to be doing just fine… 😉



    • Thanks for commenting Sherry, and I agree, it’s not one I have to use on a regular basis. In 19 months of sobriety, I’ve in fact only had to use it the time I described above, but just knowing the relief is gave me is a comfort. I appreciate the feedback!


  2. I think bringing your focus to the present works with cravings. I am new to sobriety, but that is how I quit smoking successfully, and how I have handled going almost 2 weeks without drinking. I hope to go much, much longer. I think you can do “one day at a time” and “never again” simultaneously, maybe? Interesting post. Peace. ~Jen 🙂


    • CONGRATULATIONS! Two weeks is HUGE! And I agree… they are not mutually exclusive. One day at a time is just a reminder to get your head back where it needs to be, rather than stuck in the past or the future, where it tends to want to go! I really appreciate the comment!


  3. runningfromthebooze

    One day at a time, sometimes one minute at a time is what works for me.


  4. Like you, Josie, at the beginning there were times I had to refrain for the day, clutching on. I will never discount the ODAAT outlook, especially for newcomers. I think though that there is a time that we relinquish that to something greater. Not “never”, but our HP. I don’t think I have ever told anyone (including sponsees) ODAAT. If that will get them through, then for sure I would. I think for me it’s either we are obsessing or we are not. For me, when I obsessed, I had to be do the ODAAT at times, or distract myself, or just hit 5,000 meetings a week to get through those times. Once the obsession lifted, I didn’t have to think that anymore. That is why I don’t believe in triggers – either I am thinking of booze or I am not. If i am, everything triggers me. If not, nothing triggers me. Anyway, I think that before we get to a point where we are relieved of the obsession, we do what we have to do to get through the day. If I don’t drink for that day, then that leaves me tomorrow, which is something completely different.

    I will probably have to use the ODAAT when I stop the sugar…lol.

    Great post, as usual Josie. 🙂



    • Oh, yeah, do I need to use ODAAT with eating, and I am not LOL!!

      Paul, thank you so much for writing this. As I read your comment I realize I should have put that disclaimer in, that one day at a time is a tool that is probably used more in early sobriety than anywhere else (although I certainly have not stats to prove this statement!).

      I really appreciate your insight on this, and I hope any newcomer reading will scroll down and see your follow-up. Thanks for making my post more insightful!


  5. Hi,

    I’m not sure if you were referring to my post at all but I did – perhaps coincidentally – comment recently on not finding the ODAT concept that helpful. This is not to say that I don’t think it’s a helpful concept – it seems to work for a lot of people – but for me in a way forever is easier – although also not. Ha. But anyway…. this spoke to me and I like the idea of using it as a tool in the toolbox. If all else fails take it back to just right now, not now, not today.

    Great post.



  6. Hi Lilly! It is with the utmost sheepishness that I reply… maybe. I say sheepish because I am really unsure! I am either reading nothing, blog-wise, or I am reading a dozen at one shot (hmmm… all or nothing behavior… where I have seen that before 🙂 !). I had the experience of reading that recurring theme over a week ago, so I would have to do some serious research to figure out all the different places I read it. But I do follow you, so if you wrote about it, you are probably one of the ones I noticed!

    I absolutely agree that there are aspects to the ODAAT concept that seem not helpful. When I think about it, in general terms, it has almost a Groundhog Day feel to it, but it can be very helpful when I am “up in my head,” as I wrote about above. So it’s, as you more or less said, a fail-safe tool.

    I’m glad I was able to give you a different perspective on it, and I really appreciate your comment!


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