10 Tips for Staying Positive During Drug Addiction Recovery

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Change is hard – there are no two ways around it. No matter what change you are making, you are bound to hit the occasional road bump. Why? Because with positive change comes personal growth, and growing pains are a normal and expected part of progress. Say you get a promotion at work, which is well-deserved and much anticipated. Regardless of how positive the change is, the adjustment period will probably prove at least a little bit difficult. You will have to settle into your new position, and learn all of the ins and outs. Eventually, you’ll master this position just like you mastered the last one – it will just take a little time. The same goes for drug addiction recovery. You are making a positive change; you are working towards self-betterment. But addiction recovery can be tough occasionally, seeing as you will be learning an entirely new way of life. Getting sober is a huge step (a huge step in the right direction, but a huge step all the same). One thing that will make the transition easier is learning to stay positive.

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The power of positive thinking has been scientifically studied for many years, and its far-reaching effects have been repeatedly proven. A study published by Johns Hopkins Medicine titled The Power of Positive Thinking further confirms that a change in attitude can have dramatic results. The study found that people who had a history of heart disease within their families were one-third less likely to develop heart disease themselves if they maintained a positive outlook. The study also noted several simple way to boost your mood regardless of what you might be going through, including:

  • Smiling more often
  • Building resiliency (meaning learning to adapt to adverse circumstances and practicing acceptance – accepting that change is a necessary and unavoidable part of life)
  • Practicing reframing (meaning changing a negative situation into a positive one, and focusing on all that you have to be grateful for)

Another study published by the Scientific American explored the ways in which mindfulness impacted positive thinking, and positive thinking then impacted overall quality of life. The beginning of the study explains mindfulness and the implications of this practice on the study at hand, reading, “Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Mental-health treatments that focus on this method include mindfulness-based stress reduction—an 8-week group-based programme that includes yoga and daily meditation—and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.” At Guardian IOP, we have extensively studied the impact of mindfulness training on those who are in addiction recovery. We have found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is extremely effective in helping clients stay engaged in their recovery programs and lean more towards a positive outlook.

If you are already in recovery and you are looking for some advice on how to stay on the right track, you are in luck! We have compiled a list of 10 tips for staying positive in drug addiction recovery. If you have any additional questions or if you would like to share your own positivity tips with us, feel free to reach out at any point in time.

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10 Tips for Staying Positive

1)  Keep yourself out of harm’s way – Avoid personal relapse triggers to the best of your ability, and don’t put yourself into situations that will make you uncomfortable or promote negativity. Do what you can to create a new routine – one that is conducive to your recovery. Stop spending time with people that you used to use drugs with, for example. Developing a new (heathy) routine is a great way to stay positive – and sober.

2)  Find a consistent peer support group – In most cases this will be your IOP group. Once you graduate from your IOP program you will want to look for a 12 step program homegroup. A homegroup is a specific meeting that you will attend every single week. You will start to develop friendships with the men or women in this group, and you will ultimately be able to keep one another accountable.

3)  Build a solid and extensive support group – Beyond your IOP group or your homegroup, you will want to develop a team of supportive people that are always on your side. Your support group might include family members who are supportive of your recovery, close sober friends who only want the best for you, your therapist, a counselor or your case manager. Be sure that you have a couple of very close sober friends who you can bring along to events that you might not be ready to navigate on your own, like social gatherings, weddings or holiday parties.

4)  Find effective ways in which to manage your cravings – Cravings are a normal and expected part of early recovery. Rather than get down on yourself whenever you experience a craving, do what you can to combat it. Depending on your personal needs and requirements, this might look like calling a sober friend and talking it through, going on a long jog, hitting a 12 step meeting or sharing about it in your IOP group.

5)  Find a hobby that you thoroughly enjoy and participate in this hobby as often as you can – One of the best ways to maintain a positive outlook is by filling your free time with things you enjoy doing – things that make you feel fulfilled and good about yourself. One of the most wonderful things about drug addiction recovery is the newfound ability to engage in activities you enjoy. Replace laying in bed until 3pm with surfing or paddleboarding; replace long nights blacked out at the local bar with salsa lessons. The world is your oyster! Go have fun.

6)  Find ways to relax. Tension and stress lend themselves to negative thinking – If you start to feel overwhelmed, do what you need to do to relax. This might look like taking a bubble bath, reading a book, taking a yoga class, listening to your favorite music or engaging in meditation and breathing exercises. When you are relaxed, you become more inclined to engage in positive thinking.

7)  Take care of your physical health and well-being – Get enough sleep every night, be sure that you’re eating three balanced meals a day and try to squeeze in exercise whenever you can. If you are feeling physical pain, speak with someone about it. Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS) is a common part of early drug addiction recovery. When symptoms of PAWS are not being effectively treated, they can compromise mental well-being. Speak with an addiction specialist or healthcare professional about how to best manage symptoms.

8)  Volunteer to help others whenever possible – This will help you feel better about yourself and your own circumstances while building self-esteem. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, volunteer to bring a 12 step meeting into a medical detox facility… even volunteer to be the designated driver if you feel like doing so will not trigger you. Be of service wherever and however you can.

9)  Decide how you will respond to others when they ask you about your recovery – Having an idea of how you will answer questions like, “Why don’t you drink,” or, “You can’t even have one hit,” will help put your mind at ease. Preparedness breeds positivity.

10)  Jot down between 5 and 10 things you are currently grateful for whenever you start to feel sad – Making a detailed gratitude list will undeniably help pull you out of a slump. Make writing down a gratitude a routine with one of your friends, and share your lists with one another every night.

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Early recovery can be difficult to navigate, and Guardian IOP is available to help in any and every way that we can. To learn more about our personalized program of drug addiction recovery, give us a call today.

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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.


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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

Written by:

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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