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How to Stop Unwanted Thoughts from Ruining Your Recovery

Posted on :  January 14th, 2016  |  By :  towardsrecovery

The fact that the mind is always on the go can prevent people from being successful in difficult endeavors. The “monkey mind” takes away a significant amount of time from productive work.

Managing those unwanted thoughts is easier than most people think and it can be life-changing for those who are managing their addictions.

People in rehab often have unwanted thoughts that slow their success. They might think about their addiction and the negative memories associated with it. This brings feelings of anxiety, depression, and even their past traumas. Even the simplest unwanted thoughts like those earwig songs that seem to never go away can trigger thoughts of returning to addictive substances, simply to help quiet the mind.

Mental discipline is the necessary tool that can help addicts stop the unwanted thoughts so they can focus on getting and staying well.

In order to stop those thoughts, the first step is to acknowledge that they exist. Then, through the simple technique of recognition, let the thoughts pass. They will go away once the body has dealt with them. If that does not work, then it can be helpful to mentally stop them. Some people have to physically tell the thoughts to stop, others can just stop them. Some people will need to physically pair the negative thoughts with a reinforcement like snapping fingers or turning around to face the other direction.

When the thoughts keep coming, another technique is to start to think about helpful thoughts. They do not have to be positive thoughts. They simply need to be thoughts about something other than the negative thoughts. It can be helpful to think about the things that need to be done, like cleaning the floor, washing clothes, or going to work. Those tasks are not harmful to think about, unless they begin to create anxiety. Some people will actually begin cleaning the floor or engaging in a task to make the monkey mind slow down.

Some people believe that it is not realistic to stop thoughts. In order to make the thoughts stop, it is important to understand the myths that are connected to it. These myths show how unhealthy the thoughts of the monkey mind can be.

For example, many people think that monkey mind thoughts are not harmful, especially if no one else knows you are having those thoughts. They also think that people who do not act on the thoughts are not in any trouble. These myths are harmful, because the monkey mind can bring recovering addicts back to their drugs to quiet the mind. Some people think it is acceptable to think about their addiction because it brings them joy. Others believe that stopping the monkey mind is crazy talk that cannot help at all. By dwelling on the monkey mind, recovering addicts are harming themselves and increasing the likelihood they will return to drugs.

Stopping unwanted thoughts is a coping skill that addicts can use. Like all skills, it requires practice and awareness to be successful. With the approaching holidays, those unwanted thoughts can quickly return, especially for recovering addicts who have lost relationships due to their addictions. It is a good idea to consistently practice their thought stopping techniques to enjoy the holidays.

At Towards Recovery Clinics, our addiction counselors can help with all aspects of recovery from opioids like heroin and prescription medications.

We understand the physical and mental challenges of maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

If you have any questions about treatment for yourself or a loved one, we encourage you to call us at one main office 905-527-2042 or via email at

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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