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How to Combat Negative Thinking in Addiction Recovery

How to Combat Negative Thinking in Addiction Recovery

People have different outlooks on life. Some people see the glass half empty while others see the glass half full.

While not everyone needs to be optimistic, a negative viewpoint on life may be more detrimental than some people realize, especially for people in recovery from a substance abuse disorder.

The Problem with Negative Thinking & Substance Abuse 

After patients complete our residential addiction treatment in Iroquois County, their sobriety journey is just beginning. Recovery from a substance abuse disorder is a lifelong journey and the risk of relapse is always there. While people, places, and objects can be strong drug triggers that could lead to relapse, pessimism can also eventually lead to relapse if you do not learn how to combat negative thinking in recovery. 

Substance abuse problems are often tied to poor mental health and negative thoughts. People whose minds are clouded by negative thinking may turn to drugs and alcohol for comfort or as a means of escape. Over time, these substances become a way to cope with these negative thoughts. Once an addiction develops, these thoughts may grow and extend to feelings of helplessness and discourage them from trying to get help. 

Although someone may complete a medical drug detox and get sober, these negative thoughts don’t just go away. In recovery, these thoughts may return, but now they may be more dangerous than ever. Negative thinking may be a trigger for drug cravings as the person in recovery is tempted to go back to using drugs or alcohol to help them cope with these thoughts. Especially if these negative thoughts become persistent and develop into a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression, the person in recovery may not know where else to turn. Negative thinking can also hinder a person’s recovery. They may believe that they will never get to where they want to be and stop trying. When someone in recovery isn’t progressing forward, they could eventually give up and relapse. The best way to keep your pessimism from destroying your progress is to learn how to combat negative thinking in addiction recovery.  

Way to Combat Negative Thinking in Recovery 

Because negativity can be so detrimental to a person’s sobriety, combating negative thinking in recovery is so important. Follow these tips to help you battle your negative thoughts in recovery and continue forward in your sobriety journey. 

Acknowledge the Negativity & Reflect

The first step to combating negative thoughts in addiction recovery is to learn to recognize this toxic thinking. When you become more aware of these thoughts you can start to reflect on them and how they are impacting your mood. Try talking them out with someone you trust or journal if you are not as comfortable opening up. 

Challenge your Thoughts

Once you are more aware of the negativity in your thinking, you can start to challenge these thoughts. The next time something dark, unhelpful, or destructive crosses your mind, take the time to examine it further. You will likely find overstated or faulty logic that led to such thinking; once you are able to recognize this, the negative thought loses its power. 


Focus on the Positive 

When something goes wrong, it is easy to get caught up in the negativity; instead, challenge yourself to find the silver lining. Try to recognize the little things and focus on being more appreciative of them. Eventually, engaging in a more positive outlook on life will help you push these negative thoughts away. 

Practice What You Learned

In rehab, you likely participated in several addiction therapies that taught you how to combat negative thinking in addiction recovery as well as how to cope with drug cravings. Although your time in treatment is over, you should still put these practices to good use. 

Walk Away

Sometimes these negative thoughts can become so strong that they become overwhelming. At this point, it may be time to take a mental break. Metaphorically walk away from these thoughts and come back to them at a later time when you are feeling less overwhelmed. This distance may help you see that these thoughts are not as horrible as you originally thought. 

Learning how to combat negative thinking in addiction recovery takes time and practice, but it could make all the difference for your sobriety. At our substance abuse treatment center in Iroquois County, we help people not only overcome their addictions, but also prepare for life outside of treatment so that they can find lasting sobriety. Patients will learn everything from how to break down negative thinking in recovery to how to approach environments with drug triggers. 

If you or someone you care about struggles with drug or alcohol abuse, we want to help.

To get more details about our programs at Banyan Heartland or to speak to an admissions counselor, call us today at 888-280-4763.

Related Reading:

What to Expect Your First Month of Sobriety
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa, Director of Digital Marketing
Alyssa is the National Director of Digital Marketing and is responsible for a multitude of integrated campaigns and events in the behavioral health and addictions field. All articles have been written by Alyssa and medically reviewed by our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Darrin Mangiacarne.