man standing atop a mountain

Taking Addiction Recovery 'One Day at a Time'


Sober Recovery Expert Author

man standing atop a mountain

Addiction recovery is a challenging feat. For those who are new to the 12-step program, thinking of quitting drugs and alcohol forever is a wonderful goal that seems nearly impossible to achieve. The phrase "one day at a time" may come off as an odd notion for someone trying to leave addiction for good, but you'll hear it quite often among the sober crowd. So what does it mean to take recovery day-by-day, and why is it more productive to do so?

Addiction Recovery: A Scary Future

For most people with a lifestyle centered on addiction, the idea of an unknown future can be scary. An active addict is often unsure of how to cope without substances. A savvy friend or sponsor will likely tell the addict that they only need to remain abstinent for one day. "Oh, so that's it," thinks the newcomer. Of course, it is not that simple.

Addiction counselor Kelly McClanahan walks us through the steps of the early, difficult days of recovery that every newly recovering addict must tread.

Other than the horrendous consequences they may experience, a newly recovered addict may find life without drugs or alcohol to be bland and boring. Many are certain that there will be no more fun in their lives and that they will never laugh or enjoy themselves again. They feel so uncomfortable without the security blanket of drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling or whatever the addiction is, so much so that even one abstinent day may seem like an eternity.

Baby Steps to Long-Term Sobriety

Taking recovery "one day at a time" means just figuring out how to get through the next 24-hours substance-free. To even contemplate staying abstinent for longer than a day may be an overwhelming idea for some. Breaking sobriety down into segments may be the most comfortable approach for a newly recovering addict. For example, one day may be broken down into hours or even minutes, if the addict experiences anxiety from not using drugs or drinking. With the help of their new support group and a strong relationship with a sponsor, this approach can go from one minute to one hour to one day at a time.

The first days of recovery are the true miracles of sobriety. They seem absolutely impossible to achieve, but it does happen. With or without a treatment or recovery setting, there is hope – whether if it’s for just one more minute, one more hour or one more day. A support group will provide a sense of certainty as well. After hearing others share their recovery stories, newcomers can say to themselves, "If they can do it, so can I!"

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please visit our directory of treatment facilities or call 800-772-8219 to speak with a treatment advisor.

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