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Positive Psychology in Recovery and Treatment

Positive Psychology is a comparatively new division of psychology.

With substance abuse, there can be a lot of emotional pain and coexisting mental illness. The aim of positive psychology is to understand what makes someone happy. This put the emphasis on wellness instead of illness. Positive psychology is defined as the scientific study of our strengths. It focuses on what enables communities and people to succeed.

The concept that people want to live meaningful lives where they enhance their experiences of love, work, and play is fundamental to positive psychology.


Addiction Defined

Addiction is defined as compulsive behavior that is chronic regardless of negative consequences.

Those people who have substance abuse issues are up to ten times more likely to have a co-existing gambling issue. This leads us to the conclusion that addictions go together.

It is also worth mentioning that addictions can substitute and reinforce each other.

Addiction can impact a person’s life in many ways. There can be financial troubles, debt, and job issues. Plus, there is a cost to society through the public health budget.

Most importantly, the human cost of addiction comes in the form of emotional and mental consequences for the individual and those around them.

Addiction is frequently a way for an addict to self-medicate his or her feelings.

The person addicted lacks the ability and skills required to produce the necessary positive feelings. There is a well-documented link between poverty and addiction.

Myths Regarding Happiness

Do you tend to make a list of things you think you need to be happy?

Our society focuses on chasing things like wealth, fame, romance and success, but are these things the key to happiness?

While these external factors play a role in our lives, they are not sustainable when it comes to long-term happiness.

Getting an expensive car or exciting new relationship will feel great at first, but eventually, the novelty wears off.

Three perpetual myths regarding happiness include:

  1. Wealth: It is a known fact that more money doesn’t make you happier. Some of the happiest people alive are the poorest of people.

While it may be stressful to worry about your finances you only need enough money to ensure your basic needs are met and that you are comfortable.

Getting more money won’t make a difference in your overall happiness long-term. Think about lottery winners that are still as happy or sad as they were before their big win.

Money is not the answer to happiness.

  1. Romance: While being in a supportive romantic relationship that is healthy does contribute to happiness, it is not true that being single means you are not fulfilled.

It’s important to note that even a stable romantic relationship does not always lead to permanent happiness. Expecting a happily ever after may harm your long-term relationship and could damage it in the end.

You are responsible for your own happiness. Not someone around you.

  1. Age: People tend to get happier as they age. It is a myth that older people are unhappy.

Seniors are more experienced and equipped to experience positive emotions and have less intense negative emotions in comparison to younger adults.

Overall, older adults are less sensitive to stress, emotionally stable and satisfied. These are all things that come with aging for many people.


How Can a Recovering Addict Become Happy Again?

Many people in recovery are faced with the fact that without substances they have to deal with depression. So, how can someone who is newly sober learn to access positive emotions such as inspiration, love, peace, joy, and pride?

Positive emotions build on you’re your ability to feel love, happiness, and serenity. It is done through a few main schools of thought.

Main School of Thought #1: Positive Emotions Open Us Up

Positivity is essential for survival. Being able to experience positive emotions improves all aspects of our lives in general. This is especially true when it comes to work and personal relationships.

Being able to be grateful, affectionate, and joyful will allow you to build relationships with others and allows you to creatively engage your life.

With positivity, we open ourselves up to broaden our horizons and get better.

Main School of Thought #2: The Negativity Bias becomes Self-Sabotage

In contrast to feeling good with positive thinking, if we are preoccupied with negativity, our mental and physical well-being can deteriorate. Emotions like fear or anger constrict our thinking and can quickly lead to relapse because we become closed to new ideas and relationships. This is known as the “negativity effect.”

The negativity bias, also known as the “negativity effect,” is the idea that it takes a hundred positive thoughts to outweigh a single negative thought. This means that negative feelings such as anger and fear impact your psychological state much more than positive things do. This distressing human trait is essential for our survival as a species. The harder and faster we respond to perceived threats the better. However, in modern-day society, this single trait leads to difficulty with our mental health.

So, how do you reverse this trait towards negativity? To be happy we need to be able to become more mindful of what is good in our lives and start practicing behaviors that foster positive feelings.

Main School of Thought #3: The Positivity to Negativity Ratio

Barbara Fredrickson, a positive psychology scholar, did research and found that the optimal ratio of positivity is 3:1 favoring positivity. While the exact numbers or ratio has caused some debate in psychology, the premise is valid.

For an addict to recover, instead of ‘white-knuckling’ they have a much better chance if they foster a healthy and positive method of going about their day.


The Recovery Process and Importance of Positivity

During acute treatment for addiction, along with the continuing recovery process, a lot of focus is rightfully placed on interpersonal interactions.

Working on your ability to create healthy and meaningful relationships with others in recovery or those who are sober is a good way to get outside of your head. Connecting with others is vital.

When in recovery, you get the opportunity to experience a kind of love that is not chemically induced. You learn to accept others for who they are and become a better person yourself.

You do not have to have a ‘significant other’ to experience love. It is well established that fellowship can be found in rehab facilities, SMART Recovery, Narcotics Anonymous, and Alcoholics Anonymous.

When those in addiction recovery share their experiences with others, they are investing themselves in each other’s well-being. This kind of connection fosters mutual empathy resulting in a myriad of positive feelings.

With real moments of joy, inspiration, and serenity, a bond is made, and friendships are formed. Fellowship allows you an opportunity to care about other peoples experiences as much as you care about your own. This gives an addict the ability to experience those positive emotions that they once depended on a substance for. In recovery, a significant emphasis is placed on gratitude and as this is done a shift occurs from negative feels to positive ones.

Gratitude is an accepting emotion that lets people feel positive emotions while also cultivating the desire to pay it forward with kindness.

Ways To Practice Positive Psychology

  1. Meditate: There is a lot of evidence suggesting that practicing a type of mindfulness meditation known, as loving-kindness meditation will foster warmth and love for those around you.

  2. Connect with Peers: Feelings of connection and love are a key part of happiness. We don’t have to be romantically involved to experience love. It is possible to connect with peers, friends, and strangers lovingly without crossing boundaries. Try smiling at cashiers or making eye contact with customer service representatives. Also, thank people for providing you with a service. The smallest amount of appreciation will go a long way in your recovery.

  3. Make a Gratitude List: Instead of focusing on the past or future tripping you might want to begin your day by writing down three things you are grateful for that day. They can be small things like having food in the house or shoes to wear outside. Doing this will allow you to get out of the habit of negativity.

  4. Practice Optimism: Establish a goal where you track your progress and not the finish line. When you become optimistic, you know that good things are coming and the bad will quickly pass.

  5. Narrate Your Future: Seeing yourself as able to problem solve means you are more likely to find ways to solve your problems. One way to foster this is to write about your ideal future. Answer questions like what will you feel, what will it look like and how will others respond in your narrative so that you can see how your positive future will benefit you and those around you.

  6. Practice Self-Compassion: Treating yourself the same way you would treat a friend with a similar issue to you is one of the best ways to practice self-compassion. By treating yourself with care when faced with your failures or mistakes you can begin to properly heal from them.

  7. Take a Timeout: Taking a moment to breathe and give yourself time when things get too complicated is a very healthy coping mechanism. This is an excellent opportunity to practice your mindfulness skills.

  8. Be Willing vs. Willful: To be willful means you are stubborn and closed to new ideas. Being willing means, you are open and accepting of new ideas. Being willing and open to trying new things will arm you with the tool necessary to lead a sober lifestyle.

  9. Positivity vs. Negativity: It is important to foster positivity in your life to balance out the negative. For example, mixing praise with constructive criticism is a good way to notice what is positive and what needs improvement without feeling bad about it.

  10. Write a Letter to your Future Self: This exercise is an excellent way to develop a plan that will help you cope with potential obstacles you may face in recovery. For instance, writing out a letter reminding you how great sobriety is may help prevent a relapse in the future.


Practicing Positive Psychology

Practicing positive psychology is like working out a muscle by going to the gym.

You need to continually be working on it to build muscle memory so that your happiness builds upon itself neurologically. Ultimately, the more you practice positivity, the easier it will become to experience pleasant emotions.

Soon enough, feelings of love, happiness and gratefulness will come naturally versus being something you need to work towards.

How Effective is Positive Psychology?

Positive psychology scholars are quick to point out studies that prove people are healthier, happier and more successful in life as compared to people who do not practice positive psychology.

Critics believe people may be born with a predisposition to be happier or more sad than others. They believe that positive psychology will only work for a limited amount of time before people will return to their baseline of happiness.Measuring happiness in positive psychology is limited because it is hard to quantify happiness.It is also hard to integrate positive psychology into traditional lines of therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy, group therapy and with medication. This is why it is essential to practice and carry the message of positive psychology throughout your day, every day.

Even though there is debate as to what is the clinical impact of positive psychology in substance abuse disorders, one thing is for sure, integrating positivity into your life is only going to help you in the long run.

Need Help with Positive Psychology or building new success habits?

If you want to begin creating new and healthier habits but need help getting a good ‘Positive Psychology’ program started, you can get in touch with the Hotline at our Recovery Center where trained and experienced professionals are available to assist you in every way.

The staff at Chateau Recovery is always available to help you with your questions regarding addiction recovery and treatment.  Call anytime.

Chateau Recovery Center 375 Rainbow Lane
Midway, UT 84049, USA
Please call our toll-free helpline which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is staffed by experienced and caring professionals who can answer your questions and help you navigate through the process of evaluating and securing a treatment program.

Positive Psychology?

DGO Brian Plummer explains Positive Psychology to promote positive mental health with students.

What Is Positive Psychology & How It Differs From Positive Thinking

Amazing talk answering the question “what is positive psychology” and how it differs from positive thinking and WHY positive thinking doesn’t really work to help you bust stress & self doubt but how positive psychology really does and how it also makes you feel more fulfilled EVERY DAY.

If you or someone you love has questions concerning the rehabilitation process, call our free helpline Phone: +1 888-971-2986 for more information. Calls are always confidential, private, and secure.

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