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Detox Should Be a Mental Matter, Too

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We hear a lot about detox in recovery. After “admit there’s a problem,” it’s generally the first step you take to get sober. It’s an essential start, to cleanse your body of the toxins that have been poisoning your system. Most people know and accept this as part of the process. Many, however, miss the second phase of this step, which is just as essential: mental detox.

Drain the Brain

If you’ve ever struggled with substance abuse, you know it’s both physical and mental. For many, it’s negative thought patterns that led them to drugs or alcohol in the first place. It’s these kind of thinking habits that must be detoxed from your brain for a successful recovery. Too often, we get stuck in mental grooves that take us nowhere good. Do you ever hear these thoughts on repeat: “I always make bad choices.” “People don’t respect me.” “I’m not very good at...” “I need drugs to cope with...” “I’ll never be able to...” If you’re stuck in these patterns, it’s time for a mental detox. Repeated negative thoughts poison your mind, much like the substances poison your body. When you listen to these thoughts, they keep you trapped. You are unable to move forward and embrace new possibilities for your life. This doesn’t have to be your fate. You can break free and create a different life. But you have to think differently. And that means detoxing your mind.

How to Mentally Detox

Make the effort to slow down mentally. When that old thought starts to form, prepare for it. Don’t let it simply run over you and keep you trapped in the same pattern of thinking. Take it captive. Mentally “shush” that thought. This will take practice. As you work on it, it will get easier. Like a batter able to anticipate the ball, you’ll start to see those pitches coming and know when to swing to bat it away. To complete the mental detox, you must also replace these thoughts with new ones. When you physically detox, you stop taking drugs and start putting healthier things into your body. Like the fruits and vegetables your body needs to recover from substance abuse, healthy thoughts help your mind heal, too. Encouraging, hope-filled thoughts, dreams and goals are the vitamins and minerals that will strengthen your mind and put you on a healthier track. You can use a variety of methods to insert these thoughts into your new mental landscape, such as:
  • Write down some goals.
  • Start an attitude of gratitude journal, recording things you’re thankful for each day.
  • Talk to a counselor.
  • Ask a mentor, sponsor or friend to help you focus on your strengths.
  • Ask an accountability partner to help you focus on changing your thought patterns.
As you pour in these positive thoughts and influences and drain out the old negative ones, you’ll complete the mental detox you need for a successful life of sobriety. Additional Reading: 5 Natural Highs That Support Detox and Recovery Image Source: iStock