Get help today 888-319-2606 or sign up for 24/7 text support.
American Addiction Centers National Rehabs Directory

Mind Your Mind: The Impact of Thoughts on Our Recovery From Addiction

Many years ago, in the beginning of my recovery from addiction, I was introduced to the Law of Attraction. I have, over time, become a huge proponent of it because I’ve seen first-hand how it works in my life – and I know that it’s working in many other people’s lives too.

A simple definition of the Law of Attraction is as follows: Whatever we think about, we get more of that to think about.

Makes sense to me!

It’s as if our thoughts, as well as the energy behind them, are sending out a signal to the universe saying “I’d like more of this, please.” So if we want to attract more positive, joyful experiences into our lives, we need to tune in to more positive thoughts. An easy way to understand this Law is to compare it to a radio tuner – if we want to listen to classical music, we wouldn’t turn the dial to a country station. In order to get what we truly want in life, the energy frequencies have to match up.

Whether or not you believe in the Law of Attraction, it still exists and is at play in all of our lives every minute of every day. You may recall, for example, a time in your life when things felt quite negative for you, when you were experiencing a number of difficulties, all at the same time. You may have noticed that the more negative your thinking was, the more negative things appeared for you to worry or be sad about. On the other hand, perhaps you can recall a time when things were going really well for you, and because you were in a place of happiness or contentment – or even joy and bliss – more of those types of experiences were attracted into your life. You may not have thought about it in this way at the time this was happening, but that was the Law of Attraction at work.

Negative Thoughts and Recovery From Addiction

Before I understood this concept, I didn’t have any idea that I had control over how my life could be. I thought I was just at the mercy of whatever situation was happening, as well as the emotions I felt about them – just a candle in the wind.

Today I firmly believe that we can improve our lives simply by predominantly thinking more thoughts of love, joy and appreciation. I do know that this may be easier said than done, especially when we are either in active addiction or in early recovery. I know that life can feel very harsh at those times and we need to be gentle with ourselves. But when we understand this Law and choose to use it with intention, things can change very quickly. When you notice that your mind is swirling with negative thoughts, you can use this as a reminder or a signal that it’s time to change that station and tune into a different frequency!

In 12-Step programs, negative thought processes are often called “stinking thinking” – composed of behaviors like complaining, blaming, and judging others. It’s so easy to fall into this mindset and equally easy to stay stuck there for a while, especially when we blame other people for our choices to feel the way we feel. But as time goes on and we work our program of recovery, we are encouraged to become more aware of our negative thoughts and consider allowing a shift into more positive thinking as soon as we can.

Recovery from addiction – and life in general – become much easier when we make the choice to live this way.

Positive Thoughts and Recovery From Addiction

It’s important to remember that it’s normal to have negative thoughts from time to time – there’s no need to feel the pressure of having positive thoughts 100% of the time.

The fact is that none of us can maintain this indefinitely. In fact, as our self-awareness expands, our more negative thoughts can signal for us that something isn’t quite right, and that it’s time to make a change if we want to feel better. It’s part of everyone’s journey to make mistakes and to wander a bit off the path at times. But when we can be aware of how we feel, we can use those emotions as a sort of guidance system – just by asking ourselves “Do I want to stay here where I don’t feel so good, or would I prefer to think about something that would make me feel better?”

Caring about how we feel is imperative. Making the choice to feel even a little bit better is the best thing we can do for ourselves – and for our loved ones.

Learning to recognize your negative thought patterns and using that simple Law of Attraction to adjust into a more positive emotion can go a long way toward smoothing out your journey of recovery and improving all areas of your life as well.

The Law of Attraction in Active Addiction 

If you’re currently in active addiction, you’re likely experiencing a whole host of negative emotions and thoughts, many of which will probably show up in your negative self-talk. When you’re ready to open your eyes to the truth of your addictive behavior and the negative toll this is taking on your life, your relationships, and your self-respect, you’ll begin to realize that a better choice would be to take responsibility for the predicament you’re in and find alternatives to dealing with your life’s challenges.

The easiest place to start is to be mindful of your thoughts.

Because we have so many thoughts running through our minds, the practice of taking a few moments in your day to journal about them can alert you to your negative patterns. This will give you the opportunity to choose more positive thoughts. Visualization is another powerful tool for recovery. Focus on what you really want from life, and how much better things could become once you stop the addiction and deal with your issues once and for all.

You have the power to create the life you want. And, contrary to that old saying “I’ll believe it when I see it,” the fact is that you’ll see those changes happen when you start to believe that they actually can become a reality.

The Law of Attraction in Active Recovery

If you’re already in recovery from addiction but your life isn’t going as smoothly as you would like, try checking in with your thinking.

Are your thoughts coming from that fear-based place where you tell the same story, over and over again – the story that led you to your addiction in the first place?

Do you repeatedly tell yourself that recovery is difficult and you don’t think you have what it takes to maintain this way of life long-term? Or maybe you’re telling yourself that you don’t deserve a better life.

If thoughts like these are coming up for you, do your best to focus on the present. When things are difficult for me, I always begin to feel better in the moment when I use the following affirmation: “Just for today, my needs are met.”

And when I focus on just one day at a time, I can see that my needs are always met.

Developing an Attitude of Gratitude

One of the simplest ways to redirect yourself to more positive thoughts is to be grateful for what you already have in your life. No matter what your life circumstances may be, you can find things to appreciate. Many people speak about gratitude in recovery programs because there is always a chair waiting there for them. When you can choose to see your life challenges as opportunities for personal growth, your outlook on a great many situations will change for the better.

Another useful tool is a gratitude journal because writing things down is always a great practice. In the evening, perhaps right before you go to sleep, you could write a few things in your journal that you were grateful for that day. It doesn’t matter if you repeat certain things day after day – if you’re grateful for it, it can go in your journal. Doing this particular exercise consistently means that you will start looking for those moments of appreciation during your day, helping you to focus on the good things that happen – and this will surely set you on the path of attracting more of those things to be grateful for into your life.

If you prefer, you could write in your journal first thing in the morning upon awakening, discussing your intention to have a good day. Doing this helps you to intentionally start your day on a positive note and can easily set the tone for your entire day.

Using some or all of these simple tools will go a long way toward raising your energy vibration, helping to shift the signals you are putting out. The bottom line is that we need to become aware of our thoughts first, and then make the conscious decision to adjust them when they are negative, resistant, or fear-based. Try it for a few weeks and notice the changes and improvements in your life – and let us know how this works for you!




Images Courtesy of iStock

Was this page helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is committed to delivering original, truthful, accurate, unbiased, and medically current information. We strive to create content that is clear, concise, and easy to understand.

Read our full editorial policy

While we are unable to respond to your feedback directly, we'll use this information to improve our online help.