Perspective: One day at a time

by Ed H. (reprinted from our archives)

one-day-abe-lincoln-240x180One Day at a Time is a powerful little slogan. We learn to live our lives “one day at a time,” we learn to face our problems and look for solutions “one day at a time,” and we learn to stay focused on the present “one day at a time.”

When I first arrived at the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous I was told that if I didn’t take one drink for one day, things would get better. Well, here I am 38 years later and I still do not take one drink for one day at a time, and things continue to get better.

Now, this all may seem pretty simple and sound like some kind of fairy tale. Well, it isn’t. Drink or no drink, I have to live in this world and I have to face whatever trials and tribulations come my way. I have to accept life on life’s terms.

This has been true over the past 38 years. I have had to face my fair share of failures and disappointments. By no means were my problems as bad as those of some others and my fortunes were no greater, but because I did not take one drink for one day at a time I am here to bear witness that it works.

Regardless of what is happening in my life, good or bad, if I don’t take a drink or take any other kind of substance to change the way I feel about myself or my surroundings, and if I try to practice the principles of the 12-Step program in my life and face up to my responsibilities “one day at a time,” no matter how bad things get they continue to get better and because of this I can continue to grow.

When I got sober in 1972 I was mentally, physically and spiritually bankrupt. I found that I still had to live in this world and work one day at a time to improve my circumstances.

In 1979 my wife and I were able to purchase our first new home. It was a nice little three-bedroom, two-story, semi-detached house. The day after the deal closed, before we moved in, a pipe froze and burst in the upstairs bathroom. The ceiling in the living room collapsed, the finished basement was flooded and most of the drywall on the main floor and basement was destroyed.

Of course we had no money left after just closing the deal. In spite of the disappointment, frustration and anger that I was feeling, I did not take a drink that day. I did make a few phone calls. I got in touch with the realtor, a good friend, who called in a few favours for us. My father-in-law also loaned us a few bucks. Within a couple of weeks we were able to move in with the house in better shape than it was before the flood.

A few years later I broke my neck refereeing a hockey game and had to undergo surgery. I didn’t take a drink for one day at a time and I followed the doctor’s instructions and I healed well.

After being sober for about nine years my marriage went badly and ended up in divorce. I didn’t take one drink for one day at a time and I got through it sober. Today I am happily married to my second wife and life is great, one day at a time.

I have faced many other life problems on my journey and “one day at a time” I didn’t find it necessary to pick up a drink or take any other kind of mind- or mood-altering drug to change the way I felt about myself or my surroundings.

This program has taught me to live my life one day at a time, to face problems as they come, and to take appropriate (rather than destructive) action.

About the Authors

Renascent Alumni
Members of Renascent's alumni community carry the message by sharing their experiences and perspectives on addiction and recovery. To contribute your alumni perspective, please email