Addiction Recovery Harder for Those 50+ - Positive Thinking Critical

Alcohol & chemical dependency is not limited to the young. Those over 50 may develop new addictions or continue an old pattern. Rehab requires positive thinking for a sober, healthy life.

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Addiction Recovery Harder for Those 50+ - Positive Thinking Critical
7 Min Read June 15th, 2021

Drug and alcohol abuse is often associated with younger people, but it is also prevalent among elderly populations. According to Johns Hopkins, drug abuse among those age 50 and older is substantial and increasing.

Since older people frequently suffer from one or more chronic illnesses, they can be more at risk for substance abuse. They often take both over-the-counter medications and prescription medications. Experts say these medications often don't mix well and can cause senior health issues. 

For some older people, the history of their abuse developed decades ago. The abuse becomes more complicated with additional health and age-related problems that evolve over time. 

Recovery is hard at any age, and some negative thoughts are completely normal during the recovery process. For people who are currently going through rehab at one of the top rehab centers, if negativity and negative thoughts start to overcome your mindset, they can become a significant threat to successful recovery and sober life.

Negative Thoughts Promotes Hopelessness

A negative mindset promotes victim mentality and hopelessness. They can keep you from achieving your goal. You need an empowering perspective of growth if you want to transition into sobriety successfully. Thoughts of despair can come in the way of that and take a toll on your mental health. 

 The problem with consistent negative thoughts is that -

  • They can worsen your depression and anxiety, often requiring the help of dual diagnosis treatment facilities. A heightened sense of hopelessness and anxiety can make you crave drugs and alcohol, the very thing you're trying to stay away from. Cravings can be tough to bear if you have a history of using a substance for self-medicating in times of distress.  
  • Another problem with a negative mindset is that it can get difficult for other people to be around you. No one likes a Debbie Downer, and it is natural for people to withdraw from the individuals who openly express a bad and unhealthy attitude towards life. This can be bad for someone who is in the recovery process because they need the support of family and friends for a smooth transition into a drug-free life. But, if the person is consistently in a negative mindset, it can drive those important people away, thus making things harder than usual. A decrease in the support system is never a good thing for someone in recovery.
  • Studies tell us that negative thinking leads to reduced self-efficacy. When self-efficacy is reduced, you start to doubt your own ability to stick through challenging times, complete complex tasks, and accomplish the goals you set for yourself. It is only a matter of time before the person starts to avoid their sponsor, skip self-help meetings, and start finding excuses to reschedule appointments. All of these can increase the chances of relapse exponentially.

Overcoming Negative Thinking During Addiction Treatment

Ways to Overcome Negative Thinking in Recovery


Avoiding Negative People

One of the most significant adjustments you can make in your life is to spend time with positive people as much as you can. Both negative and positive mindsets are contagious. And so, it's natural that when you spend time with people who are always down about life, you're also likely to pick up on that attitude. 

While you are going through the addiction treatment process at a residential drug rehab, the best thing to do while you are going through the addiction treatment process is to avoid negative people and spend time with people who share a hopeful, motivating, and happy disposition about life. 

When you are in recovery, you need proper moral support. Positive people can motivate you to make healthy choices. It is better if you engage in playful, healthy activities with them.

Practice Gratitude

Another tried and tested way to avoid negativity while receiving alcohol addiction treatment is to practice gratitude and develop an attitude of thankfulness. The good thing about gratitude is that it will automatically drive away negativity from your life. 

Gratitude works best when you keep a journal. List out all the good things about your life. Write down things you're grateful for, be it good health, healthy relationships, or just the food on your table. It will make you count your blessings and automatically increase the quota of positivity. There's nothing quite like gratitude to uplift your spirits.

Work with a Therapist

Do not underestimate the power of a therapist to get you through negative times. While the support of friends and family is essential during recovery, sometimes the only way to pull yourself out of a negative thought process is to talk things out with a professional. 

Remember, your therapist is an expert in the field of psychology. He or she may make you look at things from a new perspective, something that other people are often unable to do. You can talk freely with your therapist without any fear. You can share your thoughts, doubts, and inhibitions to seek a healthy way out. 

Talking to a therapist can help you find a way out of your problems. In-patient rehab centers often include therapy as part of the recovery treatment, so you should always take advantage of therapists there. 

Set Concrete Yet Attainable Goals

One of the best ways to keep you going in life is to have a list of short, multiple goals. However, it's crucial to make them concrete and attainable. Do not set too big a goal for yourself. It's better if you break down one big goal into several smaller ones. Check them off one by one as soon as you finish them. 

As you check off each goal, you will feel a surge of motivation and empowerment within you. That sense of accomplishment will shoo away negativity. You can set goals related to relationships, job success, recovery, and sobriety. It will build the momentum and positivity you need to keep going during your journey towards sobriety. 

Bring Positivity in Someone's Life

Sometimes, the best way to pull yourself out of your thought bubble of negativity is to contribute to someone else's life. It does not matter how big or small the contribution is; just make an effort to help someone else. 

Adding a touch of positivity in others' lives will automatically elevate your own positivity quotient. Try to be kind and helpful to others. Even helping around with houseful chores is a small yet super effective way to kick away the negativity.

Bolster Your Creative Side

The thing about mindset is that it's like an empty vessel. And it starts to fill up with whatever it's exposed to. Your mind abhors a vacuum. It is up to you whether you expose yourself to negative things in life or to positive and empowering ones. 

Your mind is negative because the mind is brilliant, and it's ready to fill up with anything it sees. Therefore, make sure to engage in something creative to create something useful and constructive. Everyone is naturally creative. You must find ways to channelize your creativity and nourish it. The journey of self-discovery and creative flows can be uplifting, fulfilling, and incredibly positive. 

Substance Abuse Growing with Seniors

There are 2.5 million seniors currently struggling with a drug or alcohol problem in the U.S. The problem is more common than most people want to believe. Perhaps look to the years that today's seniors grew up in—the crazy 1960s and 1970 were more open to drugs and alcohol. 

Substance abuse for those 60+ is getting worse every day. Since many older adults take pain medication for chronic health problems, the issue is even more challenging to address. Loved ones needing long-term health care services with a history of addiction should choose a care facility with proper support resources in place. The family will also need to support them during this time with a positive outlook.

Older people suffer from natural depression and anxiety due to aging and health changes, and the need for long-term health care. Being more positive is hard, but a positive outlook can improve the quality of life and make dealing with abuse and rehab easier.

The need for long-term care is growing, the costs are expensive, and adding substance abuse to the mix must be dealt with by getting the proper care and support. 

Kick Away Negativity

Negative thinking may seem like this giant monster that has taken over your life during substance abuse treatment. But it is easier than you think to kick away negativity and pull yourself out of a downward spiral. With these tips, you can transition into a positive mindset and lead a sober life.

Get Help

Finding the right rehab center is key to success. You can find one in your area, like the rehab center in Long Beach, CA, which will help you overcome addiction. 


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About the Author

Holly Klamer is a seasoned writer who loves to create content related to aging issues and everything to do with senior living. She is a frequent contributor to many top online publications including Assisted Living Near Me, where she creates content that is specific to assisted living for older adults, as well as, where she writes about common issues affecting senior citizens and provides senior living advice.

LTC News Contributor Holly Klamer

Holly Klamer

Contributor since December 23rd, 2020

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