Remembering the Big Picture


A birthday. Graduation. An anniversary or a wedding.

Temptation to relapse may be stronger during special occasions, which often feature alcohol as part of the celebration. A recovering alcoholic might spend all night staring at the champagne flutes at a wedding or the beers at a tailgate before deciding it’s okay to indulge in just one drink. However, this type of short-term thinking can lead to relapse and another long-term struggle with addiction.

When you’re in recovery, it’s important to keep the big picture in mind. A short-term perspective views the situation as a choice between two options in that specific moment. Taking this perspective can make the choice to drink seem not so bad. You’re not choosing your addiction over sobriety; you’re just choosing to celebrate this one occasion. One drink is manageable, and indulging now won’t prevent you from getting back on the wagon tomorrow.

From a long-term perspective, choosing to indulge in a drink is just one decision in a sequence of choices. By focusing on the long-term, you’re more likely to make the right choice, not the choice that feels good right now. Which has higher value: enjoying a drink at a celebratory occasion today, or still being sober and healthy in two weeks? Consider that the long-term perspective of choosing to enjoy a drink in the moment might include things like disappointment from family and friends and a struggle to rebuild your recovery.

Maintaining long-term recovery isn’t easy, but keeping the big picture in mind can help you examine the importance of each decision you make. Taking a long-term perspective can remind you that it’s important to choose staying sober every day, even when it might not be the most gratifying choice in the moment.

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