Thinking About Drinking: Tips & Tools

Consider “Just for Today” and behavioral change.

Just for Today… It’s a saying that is often heard in places of recovery from alcohol and drug dependence. But what exactly are its origins, and how is the phrase related to recovery? The earliest sighting of the expression, “Just for Today”, appeared in a newspaper column called “Dr. Crane Says”, by Dr. Frank Crane. The 1921 Boston Daily Globe article focused on a list of ten, “Just for Today”, suggestions for his readers to practice on a daily basis. The first suggestion is as follows:

“Just for Today, I will try to live through this day only, and not tackle my whole life-problem at once. I can do some things for twelve hours that would appall me if I felt I had to keep them up for a lifetime.”

As time passed, the phrase “Just for Today” and the nine other suggestions  migrated from the Boston Daily Globe, into Alcoholics Anonymous literature, then was formally adopted by the AA for publication in 1978. So, you may find yourself wondering how these suggestions fit into recovery literature.

In speaking to the first suggestion, if a person has decided to evaluate their relationship with substances, and through that evaluation, they decided to stop using substances, then suggestion one could be extremely helpful. How so?

Well, oftentimes we tend to tackle behavioral change by breaking the behavior into smaller more manageable chunks; this is what is known as partializing. If one thinks about never using substances again it can be extremely overwhelming, and can cause additional anxiety, which in and of itself may lead to continued use of substances. However, if an individual takes the “Just for Today” approach towards sobriety, 24 hours seems a lot more manageable than 20, 30, or even 40 years from now.

This approach of partializing and focusing on the present moment, rather than the unknown future, can help keep us grounded when we are considering sobriety. This method can also be used for issues beyond addiction such as anxiety, depression, or any other lifestyle changes you may want to make. Some folks see this tactic as very similar to mindfulness

If this approach sounds interesting to you, here is a video by Dr. Judson Brewer for you to check out:

If you are an MSU employee, spouse, or benefits-eligible family member of an MSU employee and would like to discuss “Just for Today”, mindfulness, or recovery for that matter, please feel free to contact the MSU Employee Assistance Program to schedule a discussion with a licensed professional today. 

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