SUBSTANCE ABUSE INDUSTRY NEWS #8
The Science Behind ‘One Day at a Time’
Early on, writers are instructed to avoid using clichés like the plague. Clichés are often criticized for leaving one’s audience bored stiff. Politicians mechanically repeating clichés are discredited and often accused of not playing with a full deck. However, for people in recovery, certain clichés can be worth their weight in gold.
Clichés in Recovery
When people first join a recovery fellowship like Alcoholics Anonymous, they may feel bombarded by the slogans being constantly repeated. The newcomer simply hears a group droning on about keeping it simple and preaching progress rather than perfection. Without context these clichés certainly earn the label, as their meaning often will be lost on the listener. But some of the most well-known AA slogans exist for a reason, and with some understanding everyone can come to appreciate their deeper meaning.
One such mantra urges those in recovery to live their life in sobriety ‘one day at a time.’ To those in AA, this phrase carries two essential messages. The first is to focus on the present. By narrowing their focus, people in recovery are less likely to worry about the future and potential outcomes which they cannot control. Thus, the AA member need not worry about staying sober the rest of their life; instead, it’s only a series of commitments in 24-hour intervals. Along the same lines, ‘one day at a time’ reminds people to simply concentrate on choosing to do the next right thing. This reminds those in recovery not to take on too much at one time, and to set achievable, short-term goals.
Yale Researchers Endorse Living ‘One Day at a Time’
In a report published on August 28, 2020 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, Yale University researchers uncovered scientific evidence that helps verify the effectiveness of the ‘one day at a time’ approach. In a brain imaging study, people with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) had their brain scanned during various periods from one day to two weeks since their last drink. The results revealed disruptions of activity between the between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex and striatum, a brain network linked to decision making. The more recent the last drink, the more severe the brain disruption and the more likely one would resume heavy drinking. On the other hand, the researchers found that the severity of disruptions diminished gradually over time. Thus, the longer someone with AUD abstains from alcohol, the better their decision making.
So What? Examining Future Implications
From solely this perspective the results of this study don’t seem so groundbreaking: of course, an alcoholic makes better decisions the longer he is sober! However, researchers are optimistic that imaging studies can help reveal those most at-risk for relapse who may need extensive treatment in early sobriety. In addition, the study also suggests that it may be possible to develop medications specifically to help those with the greatest brain disruptions during their early days of alcohol treatment. For instance, the research team is currently investigating whether certain blood-pressure medications can help reduce disruptions in this area of the brain, thereby improving the chances of long-term sobriety in AUD patients.
So, whether you’re in recovery or not, next time you hear a cliché like ‘one day at a time,’ don’t just throw in the towel, consider getting to the bottom of the deeper meaning behind it.
At Romano Law Group, Rainer Boggiano is focused on representing plaintiffs in catastrophic injury matters, including wrongful death, negligence, medical malpractice, and products liability litigation.
Rainer earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Florida Levin College of Law in Gainesville, Florida and his Bachelor of Business Administration in Economics from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida.
While attending law school, Rainer served as a judicial extern at Florida’s Fourth District Court of Appeal and a legal intern for ADT Security Services at its corporate headquarters in Boca Raton. He graduated with multiple Dean’s List honors and was a Pro Bono Award recipient in recognition for completing 150+ hours of community service. Currently, he is assisting with the Pro Bono work on behalf of the Florida Association of Recovery Residences.
Rainer is active in several community organizations, having served as a volunteer for the 15th Judicial Circuit’s Guardian ad Litem Program, a tutor at the Mandel Public Library’s homework center, and a mentor for several local non-profit organizations.
Susan Ramsey is both an attorney and an RN. Ms. Ramsey’s professional experience began as a Registered Nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at Yale New Haven Hospital. While pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree, she was a counselor with the New Haven Rape Crisis Program. During her time with the Program, Ms. Ramsey counseled sexual assault survivors and performed seminars for local police departments, universities, and high schools.
During her time working as a registered nurse, Ms. Ramsey decided to attend law school. Ms. Ramsey graduated from CUNY Law School, and has practiced law in several different State and Federal Courts. She is a Florida Heath Care Risk Manager and a member of the Palm Beach County Sober Home Task Force. Susan is Pro Bono Counsel for the Florida Association of Recovery Residences.
Ms. Ramsey actively litigates cases involving catastrophic injuries and wrongful death on behalf of survivors, cases include injuries suffered by victims of professional product liability and medical negligence.