Planning Ahead While Being Told to Live One Day At a Time

While in active treatment at a rehab facility or during ongoing self-treatment in their daily independent life, patients will quickly find that the addiction recovery world is brimming over with a plentitude of acronyms and slogans. From HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired ) and SLIP (Sobriety Lost Its Priority) to even more common phrases like “This too shall pass,” addiction recovery teachings utilize easy to remember slogans and acronyms to simplify the complexities of the recovery process.


Even as addiction recovery patients will surely tire of hearing these rhymed slogans and acronyms, we are positive that they will also find themselves repeating them in times of stress which is more than enough proof of their validity as treatment techniques. Probably the most common phrase of the bunch that those in addiction recovery will hear is “Live one day at a time.” Popularized by Alcoholics Anonymous and its affiliated 12-step programs.


What Does “One Day at a Time” Mean?


The ironic problem of such a phrase is not lost on us, and many patients will begin to ask themselves, “How can addiction recovery teach about learning to take preventative measures to maintain sobriety in the long-term but living through the actions of a single day?” At first glance, this phrase seems contradictory to the addiction recovery process and can be more than a little confusing. However, the slogan “one day at a time” has more to do with living in the present by absolving individuals of the stigmas surrounding addictive behavioral disorders, mental health, and wellness issues. 


The phrase attempts to shift the focus away from both the potential repercussions of past actions and the pressures of any future expectations while also framing the recovery process in a more manageable perspective. Today, the success of being sober should and needs to be enough. This will entail daily self-care efforts and consider what giving your 100% to each day truly means. Your 100% may only be 50% that day, but you can provide all of that 50% that you can afford for that day.


“One day at a time” is all about measuring perspectives on the addiction recovery process. Clients should not be expected, not from others or themselves, to perform at top levels while recovering from an addictive disorder. Just as if someone had broken a leg, nobody would expect them to run a marathon, and the same context needs to be applied to the addiction recovery patient as well. As people in recovery mend, participation can increase based on their comfort levels about maintaining sobriety. Change is affected by continually making small actions that ultimately will lead to the much larger goal of long-term sobriety. 


Daily Self-Care Tips to Live One Day at Time and Promote Long-Term Sobriety


  • Exercise: Regular exercise is a perfect self-care activity that can help quiet the mind while also releasing endorphins that decrease depression or negative thought patterns. The key to making exercise a regular habit is not to overdo it; most individuals start strong and end up burned out within a month — not to mention this mentality is all too familiar to addictive behaviors. Exercise can be as little as a walk around the park or a full hour at the gym. The form of exercise should also be something that you do not loath; otherwise, you definitely will not make a regular habit of it.

  • Meditation: Mindfulness meditation is all about focusing your attention on the inner-self and existing in the present moment. The practice involves self-introspection through such physical processes as mirroring your breath to quiet the constant chatter of thoughts. This allows recipients to recognize interrupting thoughts and focus their attention on being in the here and now. Meditation, like exercise, can also be as little as a five-minute session or 30 minutes to an hour. YouTube has plenty of free guided meditations to start you off, and remember that just like any learned skill, you probably will not be great at meditation when you first begin. Take comfort in knowing that nobody is great at quieting their mind, even those who have practiced daily meditation for years. The overarching goal of this process is about recognizing when your mind wanders, allowing you to become less reactionary and be more in the moment.

  • Manage Your Stress: Managing your stress involves not taking on too many responsibilities while still in early recovery. This means do not put unnecessary pressures or expectations on yourself through work or personal relationships. Sobriety should remain your number one goal, and the rest needs to be ancillary to that goal.

  • Keep Regular Sleeping Habits and Eat Well: This goes back to the earlier mentioned acronym HALT. Carving out time for sleep and eating well will keep you focused on sobriety. The distractions from being tired or hungry can revert to unhealthy behavioral patterns that may trigger a relapse.

  • Making Time for You: This may be one of the most important self-care techniques and the one that is easiest to ignore. You need to make time for yourself to do whatever activity you decide. Whether it be reading, watching television, or something more active like hiking, you need to take time for yourself to check-in and relax. Chances are you may be unaware of the mounting stressors in your life; a whole lot of change will be occurring at once, and balancing those changes will take its toll. However, by singling out scheduled personal time, you can ensure that you remain calm with a well-ordered mind. 


If you are struggling daily with maintaining your sobriety, Choice House has treatment services that can help. Our dual-diagnosis treatments are ideal for men with addictive behavioral disorders and co-occurring mental health issues to gain a firmer grasp on abstaining from substance misuse one day at a time. Through various therapeutic modalities, we teach men the skills to help them better cope with the negative stereotypes surrounding substance misuse as they build a new foundation of love, empathy, and understanding. Our preparation for independent, long-term sobriety begins with our treatment services that include a 90-day inpatient program, an intensive outpatient service, as well as residency at our sober living campus. Located in the Boulder Country, Colorado area, we take full advantage of having the Rocky Mountain National Park in our backyard, utilizing a unique outdoor wilderness therapy. Men can begin to heal through physical activities like hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing. For more information about Choice House’s treatment services or facilities, please give us a call at (720) 577-4422.


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