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How to Deal with Intrusive Thoughts in Recovery

a woman learns how to deal with intrusive thoughts in recovery

Intrusive thoughts are a common occurrence for individuals recovering from addiction. They can be disruptive, stressful, and even trigger relapse if not properly managed. At Skywood Outpatient, we understand the challenges of overcoming intrusive thoughts during recovery and offer support to help you manage them effectively. Call 248.617.6237 or contact us online for more information about our addiction treatment programs in Michigan.

What Is an Intrusive Thought?

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted or distressing thoughts that can be difficult to control. They often pop up out of nowhere and can range from something insignificant, like worrying about forgetting to turn off the stove, to something more serious, like imagining causing harm to oneself or others.

While everyone experiences intrusive thoughts at some point in their lives, they can become a problem when they occur frequently and persistently, causing significant distress or interfering with daily activities. They can also be a symptom of certain mental health conditions, such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Intrusive thoughts are often described as disturbing, irrational, or unwanted and can cause a great deal of anxiety and distress. They may be repetitive in nature, making it difficult for the person experiencing them to focus on other tasks or activities. This can lead to feelings of guilt, shame, or fear about the thoughts themselves.

How to Deal With Intrusive Thoughts in Recovery

For those struggling with addiction, intrusive thoughts can be especially triggering and may make it difficult to stay on the path of recovery. Here are some tips on how to deal with intrusive thoughts during addiction recovery:

  • Acknowledge and accept them – The first step in dealing with intrusive thoughts is to acknowledge their presence. Trying to push them away or ignore them can often make them stronger. Instead, try to accept that these thoughts will come and go, but they do not define you as a person.
  • Practice mindfulness – Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment and observing your thoughts without judgment. By practicing mindfulness, you can learn to recognize intrusive thoughts as just passing mental events rather than truths or beliefs.
  • Challenge them – Intrusive thoughts often stem from irrational beliefs and fears. Challenge these thoughts by asking yourself if there is any evidence to support them. Most of the time, you will find that these thoughts have no basis in reality.
  • Distract yourself – When intrusive thoughts are particularly intense, it can be helpful to distract yourself with a positive activity. This could be anything from going for a walk to reading a book or spending time with friends and family.
  • Seek support – Dealing with intrusive thoughts alone can be overwhelming. It can be helpful to seek support from a therapist, counselor, or support group. They can provide you with techniques and strategies to manage intrusive thoughts and offer a comforting space to talk about your struggles.
  • Practice self-care – Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is crucial in addiction recovery. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. When you prioritize self-care, it can help to reduce the frequency of intrusive thoughts.
  • Remember your why – In moments when intrusive thoughts are particularly strong, remind yourself why you are on the path of recovery. Focus on your motivations and goals and use them as a source of strength to push through difficult moments.

Dealing with intrusive thoughts can be challenging, but it is possible to overcome them. By implementing these strategies and seeking support, you can learn to manage intrusive thoughts and continue on your journey of addiction recovery. Remember to be patient and kind to yourself as you navigate through this process. Recovery takes time, but it is worth the effort.

Get the Support You Need Today at Skywood Outpatient

Intrusive thoughts may be a challenge during addiction recovery, but they do not have to control your life. With the right tools and support, you can learn to manage them effectively and continue on your journey toward a healthier and happier life. At Skywood Outpatient, we are here to help you overcome your intrusive thoughts and reach your recovery goals. Contact us today at 248.617.6237 or via our online form to learn more about our program and how we can support you.