Dealing with Negative Thoughts in Recovery

Discover Ways to Control Negative Thoughts in Recovery

There comes a time when every recovering addict must deal with negative emotions after they left rehab. These emotions should never be ignored because most relapses occur when emotions are left to becoming unmanageable to the point where the person turns to substance abuse again to cope. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association stated that based on their findings, first-year relapse rates for recovering addicts ranges from 40 to 60 percent. Due to the high rates of relapse, dealing with negative thoughts in recovery is an essential part of quitting drugs or alcohol.

Types of Negative Thinking in Recovery

Addicts in recovery generally have similar negative thinking in recovery. The type of thinking can be grouped into four categories that are as follows:

  • Self-labeling – These types of negative thoughts in recovery relate to the way that the person sees themselves. Something insignificant or inconsequential may happen in the person’s life that most would ignore, but a self-labeler will take it as a sign that they are a bad person and that they have done the worst thing possible.
  • Removing positives – This type of thinking involves a person overlooking all of their smaller achievements when a major goal is not met. They may see all of the good they were praised for at work as meaningless if they didn’t get the promotion they were after.
  • Catastrophizing – Negative thoughts in recovery can come from something known as catastrophizing. This is where a person will focus just on the bad side of things to the point where all they expect is more poor results. Instead of noticing and acknowledging the good that they have achieved, they will instead just focus on the bad to the point where the good is not important.
  • All-or-nothing – An all-or-nothing way of thinking causes a person to consider something a failure if not all of the aspects of the task is completed perfectly.

Coping Skills in Early Recovery

By recognizing the types of negative thoughts in recovery, you can be in a position to use positive coping skills to overcome it.  Some of the coping skills in early recovery that can help you include the following:

  • Realistic goals – Having a goal can help with motivation, but setting difficult goals can cause more frustration than improvement. Try to set goals that you can realistically achieve, and preferably in the short term. As a recovering addict, instead of setting a goal to be clean for a full year as soon as you leave rehab, rather opt for short term goals such as making it to the end of the week without relapsing.
  • Cut negative people out – While it’s not always possible to completely remove some negative people in your life such as at work, you do have control over the people you spend your free time with. As a recovering addict, negative people are those who do not support your sobriety goals, such as drug-abusing friends. Align yourself with positive people who stand behind your goals.
  • Reach out – It is easy to find a support group in your area, or to go see your therapist again. Reaching out for help when negative emotions begin to get the better of you is crucial to avoid relapse due to insufficient coping skills. No matter how overwhelmed you may feel as you go through recovery, help is always nearby.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.