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Renewing the Mind

Transforming Negative Thoughts in Recovery Through Scripture

In the journey of addiction recovery, negative thoughts pose a real threat to sobriety by chipping away at hope, fueling self-doubt, and hindering progress. However,  The Holy Bible, God’s Word, is a powerful tool that can help convert these negative thoughts into positive ones. There is strength to be drawn from  Bible reading. It provides comfort, inspiration, and guidance in overcoming the challenges of addiction and all other parts of life. Individuals in recovery are able to replace negative thoughts with affirming truths therein and experience spiritual growth along the path to healing. At Adult & Teen Challenge, the Bible is a crucial part of the  recovery journey. Participants are encouraged to memorize over 500 Scriptures during the duration of the program. Here are some examples of how God’s Word helps us:

Recognizing Negative Thoughts

One of the best ways to prevent relapse is to learn to recognize the warning signs of negative thinking and combat it. By identifying common negative thought patterns such as self-criticism, doubt, fear, or feelings of unworthiness,, participants  learn to interrupt them with the truth of God’s Word kept at the forefront of the mind, thus opening the door to positive change. 

2 Corinthians 10:5 states, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Overcoming Fear and Anxiety

Drug and alcohol abuse are momentary escapes from the pressures and worries of life. The emotional skills needed to deal with adversity in a healthy way are either lost, underdeveloped, or completely non-existent. As we all know, problems only multiply when ignored, and are only compounded by the physical, emotional, economical, familial, and legal consequences of active addiction. When one considers making the daunting and overwhelming decision to get clean and sober, fear tends to rush in. hen God’s Word is full of comforting wisdom about what fear is and where it comes from.

2 Timothy 1:7 states that fear does not come from God, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 

Philippians 4:6-7 gives us instructions on how to ease our anxiety through prayer, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus makes it clear that absolutely nothing is gained by worrying when He asked His disciples in Matthew 6:27, “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”

Overcoming Self-Doubt

Self-doubt and even self-hatred can plague the minds of those in recovery, causing them to doubt their worth. Addiction may have caused  one to do things they would have never done otherwise. In recovery, the mind often becomes flooded by memories of these past misdeeds and mistakes. While these memories can be useful in a healthy recovery setting, specifically when making amends, they may  also reinforce a person’s unhealthy negative self-image. At Adult & Teen Challenge, we teach about the intrinsic value given to all  by our  Creator.

In Psalm 139:14 the Word says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” This scripture reminds us that we are beautifully and uniquely created by God. When negative thoughts of self-doubt arise, we can counter them with this scripture, reaffirming our value and purpose in God’s eyes.

Finding God’s Strength in Our Weakness

When drugs and alcohol are used as a coping mechanism, we may feel too weak to overcome the challenges we  encounter. However, the Bible assures us that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, it says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” This scripture shifts our focus from our own limitations to God’s limitless power! 

Rather than viewing our weakness as disqualifying us from fulfilling what God asks us to do, God’s Word states the opposite in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.” 

Cultivating a Positive Mindset

A lifestyle of addiction often leads to a negative worldview due to an overwhelming sense of hopelessness. This mindset takes time and practice to overcome. The more hope a person has, the more positive they become. For this reason, Adult & Teen Challenge fosters an environment of healing by pairing newer residents with older ones. 

The Bible encourages us to focus on positive and uplifting thoughts in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” This scripture reminds us to intentionally redirect our thoughts toward positive and uplifting things. When negative thoughts arise, we can replace them with thoughts that align with The Holy Spirit!

Finding Identity and Purpose

Most importantly, God’s Word shows us our identity and purpose in Christ. The first scripture every resident of Adult & Teen Challenge learns is from 2 Corinthians 5:17-20, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 

Residents learn that they are not just a better version of their old selves but entirely new creations who are fully reconciled to God. In addition to salvation, they are given the opportunity to be God’s earthly representatives, carrying the message of reconciliation to the ends of the earth. 

Our thoughts are always powerful. Through the transformative power of God’s Word, we all can actively shift our perspective, enabling us to overcome any adversity. By regularly immersing ourselves in God’s Word and meditating on His promises, we can find strength, peace, and a true sense of purpose.