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How To Combat Negative Self-Talk in Drug Rehab

Alcoholics and addicts often feel a lot of shame around their addiction, which many internalize and their minds use to perpetuate discouraging thoughts and create a pattern of negative self-talk. Self-talk is the inner dialogue each person has in their head, which includes our conscious thoughts and unconscious assumptions and beliefs. Many times, we have negative self-talk which fills our minds with phrases like “you’re going to fail” or “you can’t do this,” which limits our capabilities and our ability to stay in a positive mindset. Drug rehab is all about challenging negative behaviors and thoughts to provide a set of skills and tools to use in managing obstacles and various daily stressors.

What is Negative Self-Talk?

Negative self-talk is talking to yourself negatively, with unrealistic or self-defeating thoughts. A lot of negative self-talk is perpetuated by mental health disorders like depression and anxiety. Negative self-talk is all of the thoughts we have that are negative, doubtful in our abilities, and irrationally condescending.

How To Combat Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is best overcome by attending various behavioral therapies, like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy. Royal Life Centers at Puget Sound offers both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (CBT). These types of therapy will help guests challenge their negative thoughts and allow them to discount the irrationality of certain aspects of their thoughts. With group therapy, and other therapies, those addicted to drugs and alcohol can challenge their thoughts in a safe and supportive environment.

We like to challenge negative self-talk by by challenging the irrationality of your thoughts and replacing them with more reasonable thinking. With practice, you will be able to identify your negative thoughts and change the way that you’re thinking to a more realistic and helpful way. Many people with an alcohol or substance use disorder have distorted perceptions, which play into their negative self-talk.

Ways to Challenge Negative Self-Talk

You can challenge your negative self-talk in many ways. Here are a few questions that will help you challenge your negative self-talk:

• Are my thoughts factual, or are they just my interpretations?
• What is my evidence for and against this thought?
• Am I jumping to negative conclusions?
• Are there any other ways that I could look at this same situation?
• If I were being positive, how would I interpret this thought?
• What is the worst thing that could happen? How likely is it?
• What is the best thing that could happen?
• Will this matter to me in five years?
• Is thinking this way helping or hurting me?
• What can I do that will help me in this moment?


Recognizing that your self-talk is negative will help you lean towards finding a different perspective. We are our own worst critics, so finding ways to challenge your negative thought patterns will help to keep you in a positive mindset. When you engage in negative self-talk, “…your inner critic consistently labels you in a negative way, it has a demoralizing effect and shapes your larger self-concept about who you are and what you can do” (Vilhauer).

Something that you can do to gain insight on your negative self-talk is by keeping a journal of all your negative thoughts. Notice what happens before your negative self-talk happens. Keeping a log of your negative self-talk will help you to understand what triggers it, what time of day most of your negative self-talk happens, and what emotions you feel before and during your negative self-talk. Treating alcohol and drug addictions require treating your mind, body, and spirit. So finding ways to gain insight and make changes that bring you better health in the mind, body, and spirit is invaluable.

Treating Addiction

Addiction treatment should help guests work through the obstacles that stand in the way of a happy, healthy, and meaningful life in sobriety. We seek to help our guests think positively, and have healthy thought patterns that don’t discourage them in addiction recovery. Our drug rehab centers offer both cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavioral therapy to help guests challenge their negative thought patterns and self-talk. Negative self-talk in those with suicidal ideations is extremely dangerous, if someone you know is having suicidal ideations, please call an emergency service like 911 to ensure their safety.

Our Addiction Treatment Programs

Royal Life Centers at Puget Sound offers treatment options including a medical detox and a residential inpatient program. Royal Life Centers also offers drug rehabilitation programs including: a partial hospitalization program (PHP), an intensive outpatient program (IOP), an outpatient program (OP), sober living and graduate housing. Our addiction treatment programs introduce guests to 12-step programs of recovery, like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gambler’s Anonymous, etc. Royal Life Centers at Puget Sound encourages guests to pick up healthy habits and gain insight from the aspects of themselves that they need to work on. Guests have the option to partake in short term treatment, or check into one of our longer term treatment options which are aftercare programs. Royal Life Centers designed programs that follow guests through the stages of the recovery process, to provide guidance and support along the way.


Martin, Ben. “Challenging Negative Self-Talk.” Psych Central, PsychCentral, 8 Oct. 2018,

Vilhauer, Jennice. “4 Ways to Stop Beating Yourself Up, Once and For All.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 18 Mar. 2018,

If you or someone you know is struggling with negative self-talk and an addiction, please reach out to our addiction specialists for guidance and support at (877)-RECOVERY or (888) 308-1985. Our team is available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.

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