Renaissance Ranch

How Addiction Treatment Can Help You Reframe Negative Thoughts

Jan 19, 2024

The presence of substance use disorder (SUD) and addiction can inform a wide range of problematic symptoms and effects, from distressing physical and psychological cravings to low feelings of self-worth and more. One particularly evident symptom shared among those with SUD is negative thoughts. Learning how to reframe negative thoughts in recovery is essential, as leaving them unmanaged can inform negative emotions and contribute to relapse. Fortunately, addiction treatment can help clients reframe negative thought patterns and overcome other distressing symptoms to foster long-term sobriety and recovery. 

At Renaissance Ranch, we are committed to helping men recover from SUD and associated symptoms, including negative thoughts. We utilize multiple treatment modalities, including evidence-based, trauma-informed care in conjunction with a 12-Step approach, to help men understand the connections that exist between their thought and behavior patterns. From detox to residential or outpatient care to aftercare, we have the treatment program options that men need to not only establish sobriety but also sustain lasting healing from its lingering effects.

Understanding Negative Thoughts

According to a publication by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Positive thoughts are thoughts that make us feel good about our progress. Negative thoughts cause us to lose hope or to stand in the way of our progress.” Commonly, negative thoughts cause us to critique ourselves, which can affect our self-worth. Though experiencing both positive and negative thoughts is a part of being human, unaddressed negative thinking can become habitual and interfere with our perceptions of both ourselves and the world around us. 

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), some of the most common negative thinking styles include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking
  • Emotional thinking
  • Overestimating risk
  • “Must” or “should” thinking
  • Self-blame
  • Expecting the worst
  • Overgeneralization

Negative thoughts can be informed by many different scenarios and experiences. For example, they can be rooted in negative perceptions of oneself or others, often caused by adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) or other instances of trauma. They can also be caused by unrealistic expectations. Further, negative thoughts are also a common symptom of mental health disorders and SUD. This is because both mental health disorders and substance abuse can alter brain structure and function, making individuals more vulnerable to developing negative thoughts, unpleasant emotions, and adverse behavioral health outcomes. 

On the other hand, unmanaged negative thoughts can also increase an individual’s risk of substance abuse and mental health disorders by promoting stress and anxiety. This is just one of the many reasons why negative thoughts must be addressed in addiction treatment. By leaving them unmanaged, individuals are especially vulnerable to relapse throughout long-term recovery. 

Reframe Negative Thoughts With Addiction Treatment

Every addiction treatment program will utilize a myriad of techniques and approaches to help clients reframe negative thoughts. One of the most common, evidence-based approaches used to do so is known as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT). As stated in Focus: Journal of Life Long Learning in Psychiatry, CBT refers to a family of techniques that are designed to target maladaptive thoughts and behaviors that maintain anxiety over time.” 

One of the most helpful techniques of CBT for reframing negative thoughts is known as cognitive restructuring. As the aforementioned journal states, ”Cognitive restructuring promotes more adaptive and realistic interpretations of events by identifying the presence of thinking traps,” such as all-or-nothing thinking or overgeneralization, for example. In a CBT session, clients will work together with their therapists to identify and challenge negative and irrational thoughts that may otherwise keep them from sustaining lasting sobriety and recovery.

A similar variation of CBT that may also be used in addiction treatment to reframe negative thoughts is dialectical behavior therapy (DBT). DBT is a comprehensive approach that utilizes CBT techniques like cognitive restructuring alongside mindfulness. According to the journal titled Psychiatry, there are five functions of DBT, which include:

  • Enhancing capabilities
  • Generalizing capabilities
  • Improving motivation and reducing dysfunctional behaviors
  • Enhancing and maintaining therapist capabilities and mitigation
  • Structuring the environment

In a DBT session, clients will work together with their therapists to identify and accept negative and irrational thoughts rather than challenge them, as done in CBT. More specifically, clients learn how to observe their thoughts and emotions without judgment, which reduces the intensity of anxiety and discomfort often caused by negative thoughts. 

In addition to CBT and DBT approaches, there are many other techniques that clinicians may use in addiction treatment to help clients reframe negative thoughts. For instance, some facilities may explore experimental or adventure-based techniques to foster greater client engagement and contentment in treatment. Many facilities may also rely on group interventions to help clients reframe negative thoughts with the help of their peers in recovery. 

Reframe Negative Thoughts With Renaissance Ranch

At Renaissance Ranch, we utilize a variety of approaches and techniques to help men reframe negative thoughts in addiction recovery. We believe that reframing negative thoughts can help men establish the strong mental foundation needed to sustain lasting sobriety and healing. Whether men are looking for a treatment program or are seeking continuing care resources post-treatment, we are here to empower and support men to commit to lifelong recovery, with the help of peer support and professional support in tandem. 

Negative thoughts are driven by worry, fear, and trauma, and they are often perpetuated by mental health disorders and substance use disorder. Further, unmanaged negative thoughts can make individuals vulnerable to distressing emotions like anxiety, further perpetuating alcohol and drug use. Fortunately, individuals can work with clinicians in addiction treatment to reframe negative thoughts. Oftentimes, treatment programs will use cognitive-behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy approaches to restructure negative thought patterns, informing resilience and improved mood. At Renaissance Ranch, we are committed to helping men recover from addiction and its lingering effects, including negative thought patterns. We utilize a wide range of approaches and techniques to help men achieve lasting healing and recovery. Call (801) 308-8898 to learn more.