Why I dislike “Just for today”

Since that annoying commenter dragged me back onto the subject of all that I hate about NA, I’ve been thinking of this – Just for today; and why I don’t like it.

“Just for today” is great when you first clean up (in theory I suppose), because it’s really a way of saying, “Just for now, just in this moment, I won’t use – even though I want to”. So it’s a way of distracting yourself from using drugs when you are struggling. But it never applied to me.

On the last day I used, just over some three years and a month ago, my ex, Megan, and Aishah, her then four month old daughter, moved in. I drove to fetch them from the train station, then locked myself in the bathroom and used as much as I could safely use that I had left. I must have smoked about a gram before I reached that point of shaking and my head getting hot – which is what used to happen if I used “too much”. But since I had already been awake for several days (and probably had no dopamine left for it to work on) it didn’t wake me up. I was still exhausted right after using. Then I threw away the remaining meth and all my drug paraphernalia, which I had already found and placed together to make it easier (since I’d planned using this opportunity to clean up in advance, i.e. I knew weeks before they arrived, and had decided to stop using on that day), and I went to sleep.

I’d cleaned up mostly for practical reasons. My ex and her baby were sleeping in my room, and I could not use and then tweak as I had been with them sleeping in the same room where I was tweaking. That was my initial motivation, anyway. Within days I found that I loved the little girl, and they would not have stayed if I’d continued using. I could not provide for them and use, so it had to be one or the other. So even though my relapse had lasted nearly three years, and I had been struggling to stop for months, this was it… My reason to stop. It wasn’t about “just for today” then, not even on day one. It wasn’t about finding ways to stay clean just for that day. It was a decision that I made, and I stuck to that decision.

Day two was more difficult. It was a Friday, and I had to get up and go to work. Then somehow make it through that day, and drive home past the place where I used to meet the dealer. Then I crashed for most of that weekend.

The most difficult part of being clean at the beginning was doing my work, because I was a tweaker. I didn’t know how to focus and concentrate on my work, how to keep going without meth. It had become part of my life, and functioning without the drug felt strange, because that’s what happens when you become dependant on drugs. It only feels normal when you are high. It took months for me to get used to being clean, at least as far as being able to work was concerned. (Not my intention to explain the process of quitting meth in this post… Suffice to say, the dependence on meth is mostly psychological. It takes only two or three days to function normally, but you are addicted to the tweaking state of mind, which addicts often confuse with having energy. It takes a long time to get used to life without that state of mind.)

But at no point did I ever tell myself “Just for today”. I didn’t need to distract myself into being clean. I was busy with my life… If I wasn’t working I was playing with Aishah, or changing her, or taking her to the shops with me. She and I became very close, and it broke my heart when Megan moved away with her after almost two years. Yet even though she removed the initial reason that I had cleaned up, it didn’t change me. I was sad, and I spent more time with our son until the court placed him back with me for good.

Now, of course, since using drugs is not even a consideration, I have no need for things like “just for today”. I work, I go to gym, I help my son with his homework, I argue with my mother (who also stays with us), I eat, I take my son to the movies, I obsess over series and movies, etc… Meth is just something I write about. Recovery is not something I work on because it is unnecessary.

What it comes down to is, at no point has “just for today” ever been useful to me. I’m not saying it isn’t useful to other people, because I won’t make the mistake that they do and project my experience on everyone else. We’re all different. But I do  believe one thing: If you tell yourself something every day, you make it so. If you convince yourself that you can’t stay clean without meetings and the fellowship, if you believe that you must “practice powerlessness” or follow a stupid “just for today” Facebook group, then you make that true. You have a ready-made excuse to relapse. “Oh, I relapsed because I stopped going to meetings” or “I couldn’t call my sponsor. It wasn’t my fault.” Well, fuck that. None of that shit is necessary. I don’t waste my time “working on my recovery” and convince myself that failing to do so would lead to relapse (even though doing so – that is attending meetings and working those meaningless steps – would take away time that I have to spend with my son, and other important things). I live my life. Not just for today, for life.

To conclude, just for today may work in the short term, but it’s not sustainable. At the beginning it might be useful to distract yourself from using drugs, because you don’t know how to live without them, and you crave all the time. But it is only useful if you have not found a way of changing your behaviour. It shouldn’t be necessary. If you are in a position where it helps you, in my opinion, you are already in deep trouble. Whether you are being treated for addiction, or not (like myself), if you find that you still need to be distracted from using or wanting to use drugs, then whatever you are doing is clearly not working.


About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
This entry was posted in Addiction, Methamphetamine, Recovery, Relationships, Skepticism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why I dislike “Just for today”

  1. Interesting analysis of “just for today”. I also see this as an early stage sobriety strategy. Eventually, it has to change into something you want to do for more than just today.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jerome says:

      Yup. The only thing I ever liked about “just for today” was when I did do meetings, if I had to read something, that was OK to read because it’s short. But then somebody with the reading skills of a third grader would end up reading one of the longer pages, such as the 12 traditions, and I’d regret not taking it.

      Liked by 1 person

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