With addiction and recovery come many physical and mental battles. Negative self-talk is one of them. Combating negative thoughts after rehab is critical for long-term recovery.

We all experience negative thoughts from time to time as they are a normal part of life. However, negative thoughts and negative self-talk can be a precursor to relapse. When negative thinking starts to consume you and affect your emotional and mental health, it can threaten your sobriety.

woman looking sad with her head leaning into her hand.

Negative thinking and negative self-talk can be detrimental to addiction recovery.

The Danger of Negative Thinking After Addiction Rehab

Through counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy, you’ll work on overcoming past traumas, self-doubts, low self-esteem, and anxiety. Along with the relapse prevention strategies you’ll have learned, you’ll be ready to combat all the negativity on your own after inpatient rehab and enjoy lasting sobriety.

But when negative self-talk creeps in, bad things happen.

My friends think I’m worthless.

No employer is going to want to hire a recovering addict.

My family hates me for everything I’ve put them through.

Negative thoughts like these are common for many individuals. However, those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction are more susceptible to experiencing these negative thought patterns and consequently, more prone to relapse.

Stages of Relapse

It’s important to understand that relapse happens gradually, typically weeks or months before an individual actually begins to use again.

Beginning with emotional relapse, an individual is not actually thinking about using but instead their physical and emotional behaviors start to deteriorate. This transitions to mental relapse where actual cravings and thoughts about using and drug-seeking begin. Finally, an individual enters physical relapse at which point they actually partake in drugs or alcohol again.

Signs of Emotional Relapse

Poor self-care is the predominant factor in the emotional relapse stage. It is also in this stage that negative thoughts abound. Signs of emotional relapse include:

  • Bottling up emotions
  • Isolating
  • Not attending support meetings
  • Not sharing at meetings
  • Focusing on others and how other people affect you
  • Poor eating and sleeping habits

If you’re feeling like everyone hates you, it’s likely you are also experiencing feelings of isolation and over-analyzing everything. You’re focusing too much on other people and how they affect you.

Have you already started suppressing your emotions or being more guarded at support meetings or counseling sessions? Maybe you’ve even missed a few meetings.

man sitting looking sad.

Negative self-talk and negative emotions can be the first sign of emotional relapse.

Combat Negative Thinking

Acknowledging your negative thoughts and actively working on changing your behaviors and mindset is critical before your emotional relapse segues into mental relapse.

Recognizing these signs, maintaining your self-care, and combating negative thoughts is vital in early recovery to prevent relapse and maintain sobriety.

Why Does Everyone Hate Me?

Maybe you’re having a hard time forming connections with acquaintances or coworkers. Maybe you’re worried about why you aren’t getting invited to go out with friends. Maybe you realized that your sibling hasn’t called you in a while.

Maybe, you’re not thinking clearly.

Everyone does not hate you.

These Feelings are Common

Negative thoughts and feelings of being hated are actually quite common not just for those in recovery, but for everyone. Sometimes they can stem from serious conditions such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Mental health disorders
  • Low self-esteem
  • Being bullied
  • Abusive relationships
woman sitting with her head laying on table next to her, looking

Negative self-talk is common and can stem from serious conditions.

Your Basic Needs Aren’t Being Met

Other times they can stem from something seemingly innocuous, but that actually has a tremendous impact on our mental health: our basic human needs. Recognizing that one of these basic needs isn’t being met in the present moment, and addressing it can have a positive ripple effect.

If you’re struggling with negative self-talk, take a moment to think about if you’re also experiencing:

  • Lack of sleep / not sleeping well
  • Hunger
  • Poor eating habits (too much processed food, too much sugar, irregular eating, etc.)
  • Dehydration
  • Stress
  • Minor ailments such as headache or stomach ache

The mind of a recovering addict is already in a vulnerable state so self-hatred, doubts, and negative thoughts can take hold easier. It’s important to be aware of changes in your behaviors and thoughts and not to minimize those changes so that you can address them as soon as possible.

How To Overcome Negative Thoughts

With time and proper self-care, most individuals can work through negative thoughts and feelings of being hated. Individuals in addiction recovery may require a bit more help, and certainly need to be more aware of what’s occurring.

Prioritize Self-Care

person sitting and holding a cup of water.

Combat negative thinking with proper self-care.

The first and most important step to combating negative thoughts is to assess your physical needs. Mental and physical wellness are highly intertwined. When one area is suffering, it usually has a negative impact on the other. This is the basis of holistic medicine after all. So check in with your needs:

  • Have you been getting enough sleep and sleeping well?
  • When was your last meal?
  • Have you been maintaining a healthy diet?
  • Are you drinking enough water and staying hydrated?
  • Have you taken any time for yourself today to relax and reflect?
  • Are you currently struggling with a headache, stomach ache, or any other minor ailments?

Making sure your basic needs are being met may seem trivial, but in fact, sometimes all it takes is a little proper self-care to help relieve the mental anguish that brings negative thoughts and self-doubts.

Acknowledge Cognitive Distortions

woman holding head in hands.

Feeling like everyone hates you? Irrational thinking (cognitive distortions) are often to blame.

Cognitive distortions are “irrational patterns of thinking that affect your perception of reality.” They are very common, often resulting as a response to stress.  Feeling like everyone hates you can be a result of any of the ten most common distorted thinking patterns:

  • Polarized Thinking
  • All-or-nothing thinking
  • Overgeneralization
  • Catastrophizing
  • Personalization
  • Mind-reading
  • Mental filtering
  • Discounting the positive
  • “Should” statements
  • Mental reasoning
  • Labeling

Recognizing that cognitive distortions are the reason for your feelings is paramount. Once you identify the distorted pattern, you can work on correcting your mindset.

Think of the Situation Objectively

Our emotions play a big part in how we view the world around us. Thinking of a situation objectively can be hard, but it can help you realize alternative explanations. Consider writing down several alternatives for why something occurred.

Consider the following, you see a picture on social media of two of your friends at the beach together. Obviously, they hate you because why else would you not be included? That’s probably why Rachel didn’t return your call this morning. She was planning this beach outing and didn’t want to tell you about it.

Sound familiar? When you find yourself in these situations and experiencing these thought patterns, take a step back and consider positive alternative explanations, gray areas, and objective evidence.

Maybe they were actually at the beach separately but simply ran into each other.

Make the First Move

two women sitting on swings opposite each other, talking and smiling.

Relationships are vital in addiction recovery.

Many individuals who suffer from anxiety or feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt will fall into the trap of waiting on others to make the first move. Instead of waiting around and letting negative thoughts like why hasn’t this friend called you lately invade, be proactive.

Make that phone call or text to check in with a friend and invite them for coffee. Mention to your coworkers you’d love to go out to dinner with the group on Friday. Be the first to say hello to other parents at the playground.

You might be surprised how much others are willing to reciprocate when you’re the one to make the first move.

Focus on Distractions

Redirecting your focus can help occupy your mind with more positive thoughts. Sometimes this can be difficult as you continue to ruminate on your feelings, but it’s a great for combating negative thinking. Physical activities such as exercise, dancing, or playing a sport are great choices for forcing your mind to focus on the task at hand.

group of people playing basketball at sunset.

Physical activities help you focus and elevate your mood.

Reach Out

Whether you reach out to a friend, a sponsor, or a professional, it can be helpful to just be honest and talk to someone else about how you’re feeling.

Negative thoughts are common and don’t immediately mean that you’re going to relapse but when you’re in recovery, you need to be particularly mindful of your mental well-being to give yourself the best chances of maintaining sobriety. Being honest and communicating with your support network is a crucial part of that plan.

Get Help for Substance Abuse Today!

Struggling with drug or alcohol abuse? St. John’s Recovery Place is a holistic drug and alcohol addiction treatment center located in central Florida that can help you get on the road to recovery.

Offering an array of addiction treatment programs including detox, residential, outpatient, and sober living, SJRP is a fully comprehensive rehabilitation center.

At St. John’s Recovery Place, you’ll discover ways to not only combat substance abuse but also help combat the negative thinking and self-talk that can threaten your recovery.

Break free from addiction and call SJRP today at 833-397-3422.

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