How Short-Term Thinking Maintains Long-Term Recovery

If a recovering addicts thinks about sobriety in terms of avoiding drugs and alcohol for the rest of his life, he is likely to feel overwhelmed. Committing to anything for a lifetime can seem scary, especially at first; to cope with the life changes that come with recovery, many people use short-term thinking. For example, getting through 24 hours without using drugs seems more doable than never using again. Therefore, many  recovering addicts live one day at a time, which means that short-term thinking can maintain long-term recovery.

Taking Recovery One Day at a Time

The difference between “I am going to be sober today” and “I have to be sober for the rest of my life” can help people avoid relapse. One day is a relatively short amount of time, so it can seem like a small obstacle to overcome—staying sober everyday eventually becomes weeks, months, years and finally a lifetime. As author Annie Dillard has said, “the way we spend our days is, of course, the way we spend our lives.”

Recovering addicts can apply the concept of living one day at a time to many areas of life. For example, in addition to remaining sober, they can commit to the following goals at the beginning of each day:

  • Be kind to others
  • Find joy in the small things
  • Set aside a half hour or more to relax and reflect
  • Work hard at a career or school

Taking life one day at a time is a valuable skill for anyone. Life happens in the present, and no one can predict or control the future. Likewise, the past is done, and, although it is important to use past experiences to facilitate positive change, agonizing over mistakes is counterproductive. Tackling goals or obligations one day at a time allows people to let go of the stress that comes with worrying about the future. This mindset also allows for more success than if one’s mind dwelt on future possibilities or past mistakes. Thinking about the past or the future too often can lead to discontentment, but living one day at a time allows people to find happiness in the present, thereby a satisfying life of sobriety.

Find Quality Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you love needs support maintaining long-term addiction recovery, then please feel free to contact us for help. Our admissions coordinators can connect you to resources that will equip you or your loved one for long-term recovery. Our toll-free helpline is available 24 hours a day, so call now to learn more about how our staff can help you begin your journey to recovery.

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