How Short-Term Thinking Maintains Long-Term Recovery

How Short-Term Thinking Maintains Long-Term Recovery

Although rehab might only last a month or so, long-term recovery is an ongoing process that is truly a lifestyle choice. It can be overwhelming for an addict at the beginning of the recovery process to comprehend an entire lifetime without getting drunk or high, but when that long-term journey is broken down into manageable daily and hourly choices it becomes completely doable. Although short-term thinking is one of the most common elements of addictive behaviors, it can also be a building block for a new life.

One Day at a Time

One of the most powerful and memorable slogans of the recovery community over the last several decades has certainly been “One Day at a Time.” The idea, which is taught in Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-Step programs, actually goes back to ancient times. It captures the important truth that many people become overwhelmed by the big picture of life instead of focusing their attention on the task or challenge immediately in front of them. The following are a few examples in which taking one day – or hour – at a time can be the difference between continued recovery and relapse:

  • Worrying about long-term finances vs. making healthy financial decisions today
  • Feeling daunted by a life-long commitment to sobriety vs. choosing to stay sober today
  • Being overwhelmed by a long list of damaged relationships vs. focusing on reconciling with one person
  • Stressing over big picture career complications vs. committing to do good work right now

One type of negative thinking that sidetracks recovery is focusing on potential difficulties in the future in order to justify giving up in the present. Addicts may convince themselves that they could never possibly stay sober throughout the whole holiday season so they may as well start drinking again.  “It’s hopeless,” you might think. “Today was hard. What makes me think I can do this for the rest of my life?” Instead you should focus on the success that you have had. You made it through today. You can make it through tomorrow. Your job is to focus on making the best decisions for yourself and your loved ones on a day-by-day basis. Over time, the days become weeks, months, and years. All you need to worry about right now is the next step, not the next mile.

Tools for Maintaining Lasting Sobriety

Recovery starts in rehab but the process of making good choices continues for the rest of your life. You greatly increase your odds of success by engaging in proven aftercare support. The following are tools that are available to help you maintain your recovery day after day:

  • Attend regular support meetings
  • Continue to receive counseling and to become mindful of your thoughts, hurts, and habits
  • Surround yourself with others who are committed to sober, healthy living
  • Stay active and engaged with life through social outings and physical activities
  • Read encouraging and positive books and watch films that affirm healthy choices
  • Journal regularly and share your discoveries and feelings with good friends and family
  • Find ways to serve others – including other addicts in recovery

The more engaged you become with your life and the more connected you remain with people who do not get drunk or high, the more likely you will be to maintain a healthy and successful life.

24 Hour Long-Term Recovery Helpline

If you would like to speak to a caring person right now about anything related to addiction and recovery please call our toll-free helpline. We can connect you with excellent recovery resources and can encourage you to maintain your sobriety today. Don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by the big picture. Just focus on living your life one day at a time. You can do it. Call now if you need help.