Positive affirmations are a common prescription in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, along with co-occurring mental health disorders. A long standing therapeutic tool, a positive affirmation is a statement or mantra that someone wants to believe about themselves. Addiction and alcoholism are riddled with toxic shame and guilt which create a crippled sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Repeating positive affirmations is supposed to help reverse some of those damaging and negative statements.

Writing “I am statements” is one of the first activities people are instructed to do in a group therapy or individual therapy session in treatment. Throughout the course of treatment, clients are instructed to repeat these affirmations to themselves in the mirror one to three times a day. Within just a few weeks to a few months, they don’t seem so abstract. In fact, they become believable. Which part of the formula is where the true transformation takes place? Is it the repetition? Is it the energy which goes into the action? Is there a science behind looking at yourself in the mirror?

Lisa Ferentz reports to Reader’s Digest, that “When we whisper positively to ourselves, it gives us a little more strength and courage so we can meet a challenging scenario head on.” Giving yourself a pep talk, for example, is actually helpful. You talk to yourself throughout the day about decisions you are making. “There’s nothing more important than the way we talk to ourselves,” Ferentz explains, “because that inner monologue informs in subtle and not-so-subtle ways all our subsequent thoughts, emotional states, and behavioral choices.”

How To Do Positive Affirmations

First, you have to take time to reflect on what you want to positively affirm to yourself. Set a special time aside for you to relax and do some introspection about yourself. Try starting with the things you already know and like about yourself. Next, move on to the things you maybe wish you liked about yourself more or that you would like to recognize in yourself; for example, something that you feel unsure of or uncomfortable with when others say it to you. Lastly, look at the things you cannot believe about yourself at all, or feel you could ever be. Those are the most important.

Some people just write a simple list of affirmations while others create a piece of art they can carry with them for a lifetime. However you want to display your affirmations, put them down. Find somewhere to post your affirmations on a mirror. Each day, look at the list of affirmations. Read each one out loud from the paper, then turn and look yourself in the mirror and repeat it again. After a few weeks, the discomfort will disappear, you’ll find more gratitude, and you might even believe what you read.


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