Individuals that struggle with mental health disorders such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often have intrusive thoughts. When these individuals are in recovery, intrusive thoughts can exacerbate the situation. Intrusive thoughts can have you thinking about relapse if you don’t know how to cope with them. Luckily, these thoughts are common, and there are ways to cope with them appropriately.

What Are Intrusive Thoughts?

Have you ever had unwanted thoughts that randomly pop into your head? Do these thoughts often have a disturbing context? If yes, then you have experienced intrusive thoughts. Intrusive thoughts typically do not reflect your intents and wishes and can be violent or uncomfortable. Having intrusive thoughts does not make you a bad person, as even peaceful individuals can have said thoughts. These thoughts can range from violent to sexually explicit to bad memories. They should not be confused with impulses, as they are often random and will go away if you ignore them.

Intrusive Thoughts in Recovery

Individuals who have struggled with drug or alcohol addiction may experience intrusive thoughts about using drugs or alcohol. Again, it should be remembered that intrusive thoughts are not impulses, and they do not reflect a desire to relapse. However, it is wise to know the difference between intrusive thoughts and cravings, as intrusive thoughts can fade quickly if you do not give them much attention. On the other hand, cravings can trigger relapse and must be addressed sooner rather than later.

What To Do

It is essential to know how to combat intrusive thoughts. In truth, the best way to cope with intrusive thoughts is to accept them and move on. When you experience a thought like this, acknowledge it and continue with your day. If you pay attention to the thought and obsess over it, you will give it more power, and it will affect you more. Remember not to run away from them, but acknowledge them and move on, knowing it is not a reflection of who you are and what you want in life.


Intrusive thoughts can be scary if you do not know how to cope with them, especially in recovery. Those in recovery that experience intrusive thoughts may feel anxious due to the idea of relapsing. Still, it is essential to remember that intrusive thoughts are just thoughts and not impulses or reflections of your desires. The best way to cope with intrusive thoughts is to acknowledge them and let them go away. This way, you know that you have them but do not give them power over your life. Should you have any other questions regarding intrusive thoughts and how they affect recovery, give the team at Alta Loma Transformational services a call. You can reach us at (866) 457-3843 and get the advice you need for successful sobriety.