Apr 7, 2016 | By Tim Powers

Common Recovery Sayings And How They Can Motivate You if You Are Stuck in Your Sobriety

Recovery Relapse Prevention


Recovery can be a very fickle beast.

You may have a rock solid plan of recovery and have all the components in place to keep your sobriety rock solid–and yet there will be times where the gearshift is stuck in neutral. It can happen when we get caught in the grind of our day-to-day lives, and we can easily become consumed with our obligations and responsibilities and the stresses that are associated with…well…being responsible.

While the stresses of everyday life can get to us from time to time, allowing them to take up space in our heads and allowing them to run riot is completely another matter. If we allow this to happen in our recovery, some interesting dialogue can take place in between our ears–and a lot of it can center on thinking about the substances that we used to use and romanticizing how they made us feel.

No matter how long we have clean and sober, thoughts like this can be a definite cause for concern, and the best antidote for combating stinkin’ thinkin’ is your 12-Step support group. As you already know, your friendly neighborhood 12-step meeting and homegroup features a language all of its own. This “language” is peppered with recovery slogans which are simple sayings that offer those in recovery guideposts for living a life of sobriety. These sayings are positive, affirmative and replace those negative thoughts that often enter an addict’s mind.

These common recovery sayings not only remind us to keep our heads up and feet shuffling forward in our recovery, they also can provide a quick spark of positivity that we need to give us a jumpstart. The following are some common recovery sayings that float around the tables of 12-step meetings and their meanings in regards to maintaining our sobriety.

One Day At A Time

Perhaps the most common recovery quote heard in meetings everywhere is one day at a time. For those who are in recovery, and especially those who are in the early stages in recovery, the thought of never using drugs are alcohol can be overwhelming and even frightening. Those thoughts can drive us absolutely crazy and they take our focus away from what is going on in the here and now. When our attention is diffuse in that manner, thoughts of using can often rear their ugly head. When we remind ourselves to live one day at a time, we remind ourselves that we need to focus on staying keep and sober for today.


Another common recovery saying that you are very familiar with is the acronym HALT which stands for for hunger, anger, loneliness, and tired. These four powerful states of being are the origins of many of the triggers that can cause us in recovery to slip back into relapse behaviors. If those moments were you feel the urge to use substances to cope with stress, it is important that you ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I feel the urge to use?
  • Why am I so angry?
  • Why am I reacting in this way?

More often than not, the underlying reason you may feel the way you do in these situations in because you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired. Once you understanding what is bothering you and why it is bothering you, you can be proactive and engage in healthy coping behaviors.


In addition to HALT, another common recovery acronym that you may see is FEAR, which stands for false evidence appearing real. For those who are new in recovery, the old using stories and false beliefs that take up space in our minds feel very real and cause much fear. Oftentimes in our recovery journey we may from time to time get thoughts in our head in which we believe that we will never escape our past and that we are doomed to repeat that past. Once we realize that most of those things we were afraid of are in the past and don’t define us in the present, that fear has less of an effect on us.

Letting Go and Letting God

AA, NA and other 12-Step based groups have a strong spiritual foundation that lie at its core. This spiritual focus is clearly seen in the common recovery slogan letting go and letting God. As addicts, there is an overwhelming need to control people and situations in order to have things run the way we want them to. The underlying meaning of this saying is simple: the only thing that we can control is this very moment and nothing else. Once we realize that and allow our Higher Power of our own understanding to take the reins, there is a sense of peace and calm that enters our lives, which helps us stay on the path of recovery.

Progress, Not Perfection

Also among the common recovery sayings that are in regular circulation is progress, not perfection. Along with control, perfection is another character that shows its ugly head during the recovery process. No matter what we do or are far we have come, it may be never good enough, and as a result we can set ourselves up for failure because we can’t meet our own lofty and unrealistic expectations. As addicts, we want to be fully recovered right now and anything less of that goal can be seen as a failure. Recovery is a journey and not a race, and with this particular saying we remind ourselves to enjoy our journey on the road to recovery and celebrate the small victories as they come. As long as we are taking small steps forward, we are doing just fine.

These are just a few recovery sayings that you can use to give yourself a lift when the proverbial chips are down. Oftentimes we hear that sometimes we have to fake it in order to make it, and these saying can provide you with enough of a lift for you to reach out to others in recovery so you can pull out your funk.

2 responses to “Common Recovery Sayings And How They Can Motivate You if You Are Stuck in Your Sobriety

  • It’s great to hear the slogans and their meanings. Although I know them, taking the time to read this has grounded me. I realise that I’m letting the stresses of life cause to much chatter in my mind and my perfectionism says I’m failing. I’ve only just come out of treatment, so I’m finding my feet. Easy does it helps a lot because I didn’t become addicted in one day. One things for sure, the fellowship, 12-steps and my relationship with my higher power has kept me sober for nearly 7 months. I must be doing something right. Thank you for your article.

  • I have to thank God for his grace and a strong will. This is the second I’ve had to get clean. Without God I can do NOTHING. By the grace of God I’ve been clean for three weeks. God has a purpose for EVERYONE and LOVES YOU and me no matter what we have done. He forgives us. We absolutely have to be able to forgive OURSELVES as well as others. Do whatever you feel you need to do to stay clean and sober and try incorporating God into this. You have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO LOSE AND EVERYTHING TO GAIN. I’m not saying it will be a easy but if your willing trust Him all things are possible.
    God I pray for ALL that are addicted to WHATEVER thing drugs, alcohol, needing to control others, food ANYTHING, that they are delivered PERMANENTLY and recover their joy in life. In Jesus name, AMEN.

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