One of the most important things to remember about addiction recovery is that it’s a marathon and not a sprint. Enthusiasm and willpower will only get you so far. Everyone has good days and bad days in recovery, and the bad days can make it seem like the whole project is doomed to fail. While it’s normal to have doubts and frustrations, if you let negative thinking become a habit, it might be an early sign that you’re on the road to relapse. The good news is that it isn’t hard to get back on track with a more positive attitude. Here are some ways to stay positive in addiction recovery.

Challenge distorted thinking.

The first way to stay positive is to challenge distorted, negative thinking. You may be familiar with this idea if you participated in cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT. The idea is simple: you don’t feel bad because of things that happen, but rather as a result from your thoughts about what happens. Negativity is often an overreaction to something we perceive as a setback.

So for example, maybe an especially bad day at work leads to persistent thoughts about drinking. You might think something like, “I’m too weak; I’ll never be able to handle life without alcohol.” If you examine that thought, you can probably find some distortions, like how you’re not always weak. You probably have done things you didn’t think you had the courage or strength to do. See if you can think of some examples. And if you haven’t had a drink yet, it shows you can handle life without alcohol, even if you feel distressed at the moment. Don’t assume these negative thoughts are true just because you happen to think them.

Spend time with supportive people.

Who we spend most of our time with affects our beliefs, thoughts, and expectations for ourselves. Spending time with positive, supportive people has two significant benefits. First, their positive attitudes rub off on you. You don’t want to be the one complainer. You get used to seeing things the way they do. Second, since you can’t be positive all the time, their support can get you through times when you don’t feel so confident or optimistic.

Practice gratitude.

Gratitude has been shown to have many benefits for mental and physical health. One reason for this is that practicing gratitude forces you to focus on what’s going well rather than what’s going badly. There are two main ways of practicing gratitude. The first is to keep a gratitude journal. Every week—or every day, if you like—write down a few things that went well and why you’re grateful for them. The more detail, the better. The second way is to express gratitude to others. Go out of your way to thank people for helping you. One especially good method is to write a gratitude letter in which you thank someone for something you genuinely appreciated. This is even more powerful if you deliver the letter in person. This not only makes you focus on the good things in your life, but it also creates a more positive social environment.


At Fort, we offer a safe, nurturing, and healing space for men and women to find recovery from the multifaceted disease of addiction. Our team believes in inspiring each client to face their challenges, discover the root of their problems, and reclaim their lives. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call us today at 844.332.1807 or contact us through our admissions page.


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