The Mental Side of Addiction Recovery

September 26, 2010

If you took a running tally of all the negative thoughts that pass through your mind in a few minutes, would they outnumber the positive or neutral ones? If you did this several times during the day, what would you notice? You might be surprised by what you find. And if you are in addiction recovery, a lot of negativity could be a sign of trouble.

addiction-recovery-and-the-brain

The mental side of addiction recovery is just as important as the physical side.

Negativity and black-and-white thinking are hallmarks of addiction. During drug rehab or alcohol treatment, you really take notice of what’s going on in your mind. After you finish rehab, you’ll need to stay aware of anything that could put your sobriety at risk.

Negativity In Addiction Recovery

Let’s talk about the negativity first. It’s not realistic to assume you won’t have negative thoughts. Everybody has those at times, especially if they are in a bad mood or just had something bad happen to them. But consider this – are your negative thoughts just passing through, or do they color your perspective most of the time? That’s the difference between having some negative thoughts and having a lot of negativity.

So what does the negativity have to do with addiction recovery? Well, consider your chances of having a relapse if you were able to stay calm and shake off your emotional upsets fairly quickly. Not that likely, right? Even when things don’t go right for a while, you can see better opportunities in the future or acknowledge that “this too shall pass”. You feel it, you come out of it, and you keep moving forward.

If you feel it and stay stuck in it, you aren’t going to feel that hope for tomorrow. Your feelings of despair and emptiness will only grow, and the temptation to drown them in drugs or alcohol will escalate. When you learn how to stay away from the negativity trap, you greatly improve your chances of staying sober longer.

Black And White Thinking In Addiction Recovery

Now, let’s focus on black-and-white thinking. This is like looking at a distorted mirror in a fun house. Your head gets squished all the way to the top and your feet are spread out on the bottom. Everything in between is skinnier than a stick, almost invisible. Your perception of the world can become like this if you don’t catch yourself. Mistakes become unacceptable. Things need to either be all going right or it’s not worth putting in the effort.

Sure, anyone in addiction recovery would love to have things roll along smoothly from one step to the next. But in real life, bumps happen. Setbacks happen. Temptations happen. Sometimes people give in to them and sometimes they don’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s pointless to stay sober just because you feel a difficult craving one day. When you can learn to accept some of the gray areas in life, you can learn how to see the bigger picture. You can avoid getting trapped in all the ups and downs.

The Mental Battle Of Addiction

Negativity and black-and-white thinking are two road blocks that every recovering addict or alcoholic faces. They are part of reality, but they don’t have to bring you down. Reach out, stay in touch with your support network, and always be aware of negativity and black-and-white thinking in your daily life.

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