Someone who has ever encountered or experienced any form of 12 Step recovery, is familiar with the phrase, “One Day at a Time.” It’s essentially a part of our everyday lexicon, here in the U.S. of A. But what does it really mean? When in the middle of a craving to drink/use, how is “One Day at a Time” (ODaaT) going to help?

One Person’s Experience…

To this recovering alcoholic/addict, the ODaaT phrase was frustrating to hear when I was new to recovery. I had long term fears and goals (in that order), that I felt I needed to properly analyze, dissect and solve. This needed to be done or else how am I to remain sober in the future?

I reached out to those with long-term recovery, including my Sponsor, and asked how was I going to stay sober at my old friends wedding in 8 months? Feeling that I had my “today” under control, I was truly fearful of future events. My belief was that I would have to partake in alcohol at these future events. That it would be expected of me. My Sponsor had a good laugh at that, then broke it down in a easy to understand and compassionate manner.

ODaaT, in a Nutshell

“One Day at a Time” means to use what you have today, what you can work with today, to get through today. Don’t dwell on the past, or worry about the future. Just get through today. By getting through today, clean and sober, you give yourself a chance for a better tomorrow. Any chance of that better tomorrow goes down the drain, if we give in to cravings and relapse.

The secret is that if we focus on today, and always get through today doing everything we can to grow in the moment – and the future will take care of itself. Get through today, and the future will just be One another “today”, which we can then repeat the same ODaaT practice. It is that simple.

One can even break down ODaaT further into One Hour at a Time, or One Minute at a Time. Don’t drink or use for this one minute, then repeat the practice. Eventually the cravings will dissolve, but it is essential to talk to someone or get to a meeting. One must find some therapeutic way to resolve that frantic energy that comes along with a craving. Channel it into something healthy, ask for help and you will get through it. Seek growth as you recover, and eventually the cravings will all but go away – that is my experience.

This line by Emily Dickinson always stuck with me when it comes to ODaaT. It almost seemed too perfect, to this alcoholic/addict.

Hector the Projector

So what my Sponsor told me was to quit playing “Hector the Projector,” to stop worrying about how the future would go – and to just take care of today. Do all that I can to grow and make the most of today, and the future turn out better than I could ever possibly imagine. Do the work in the moment, taking care of today, and all the tomorrows will be that much brighter.

He was right. I did the work each day, seeking growth and working the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, and the future was better than I could have imagined. By the time my old friends wedding came around, I was on Step 11, and comfortable being in a party atmosphere where there would be drinking. I had told my old friends that I did not drink anymore, and the wedding went great! I didn’t feel pressured to drink, and did not crave it.

After seeing the truth of things, that most wedding guests don’t drink to excess, it went by without a hitch. At one point I did step out to call my sponsor, just to laugh with him. Laughing out how worried I had been about that day. It still makes me smile to think of it.

One day at a time I worked on my recovery and the future took care of itself. You can have the same experience, it is possible.

This blog was written from the experience and perspective of one alcoholic/addict with long term recovery.

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