Negative thinking can slow addiction recovery. This is because negative thoughts – either about the past, present or future – can get in the way of the hope and optimism you need to stay sober. It will also take a big toll on your emotional health and overall wellbeing.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is often a cornerstone of addiction treatment and it can help you develop positive ways of thinking and feeling about yourself. During CBT, you and your therapist will work together to identify and change the thought processes, beliefs and attitudes that have led to your addictive behavior. And negative thinking may just be one of them.

A big part of CBT is homework or assignments that you can do on your own to build upon what you discussed in a formalized session. Along these lines, here are few CBT strategies that may help you learn to redirect those negative thoughts.

  • Start a journal. Writing down some of your negative thoughts and then talking with your therapist about those thoughts is a great starting point for figuring out what’s bothering you and how you can help yourself feel better. For example, if you’re constantly thinking that you don’t deserve to be loved, you might explore with your therapist why you feel that way and then go home and try writing three things that are lovable about yourself.
  • Counteract negative thoughts. If you constantly find yourself thinking, “I can’t do this,” try writing a positive statement to counteract this thought. For example, “I can keep on trying my best.” With a little practice and repetition, you can create new associations, replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones.
  • Seek out positive thoughts. Set your smartphone alarm twice a day as a reminder to find something positive in your current situation. It could be as simple as quickly locating three items that you like in whatever room you’re in at the moment.
  • End your day on the upbeat. As the day winds down, close your eyes and visualize the best part of your day or what you were most thankful for. Write it in a journal; recording these positive thoughts will help you form more positive thought patterns. You might even go from thinking “Ugh, another day in recovery” to “What a beautiful day it is to be sober.”

CBT at Guardian IOP
Evidence shows that cognitive behavioral therapy is incredibly effective as a treatment for those suffering from substance use disorder, which is why we incorporate a strong basis of CBT into the counseling offered as part of our programs. To learn more about CBT and are other addiction services, call today: 855-517-1871.


Reviewed for accuracy by:

Anna earned her Masters of Social Work at Barry University in Miami, FL in 2017 and completed her internship in co-occurring disorders. Anna has a Bachelors of Art in Religious Studies from Naropa University and is a certified yoga and meditation instructor. Anna has received specialized training in somatic counseling with an emphasis on body-centered psychotherapy.