incredible-marketing Arrow

What Are Self-Destructive Behaviors in Recovery?

When the word “self-destructive” surfaces, most people think about self-harm or physical harm to oneself. However, it is important to recognize that self-destructive behaviors can be anything that causes harm to your recovery.

You have explored so much about yourself within your journey thus far. Recovery is hard work and constantly evolving into the human you desire. Maybe you have been in a place where you are in the same pattern of thought, or you tend to gravitate toward the people who bring you down.

Whatever the case, this article will guide you through self-destructive behaviors and provide helpful tools that you can utilize to recognize these patterns through individual or group therapy, yoga and meditation, and an alumni program.

What Is a Self-Destructive Behavior?

Self-destructive behaviors are when you engage in an action that causes harm to yourself, whether that would be physical, emotional, mental, or sexual. Certain actions that you participate in could trigger a potential relapse. For example, you may go to a party with former drinking buddies, which can lead to relapse. Or stress or the death of a loved one could cause an increase in the risk of engaging in self-destructive behaviors.

Some examples of self-destructive behaviors include:

  • Changing yourself to please another
  • Isolation
  • Victimizing yourself
  • Not sticking to a routine or schedule
  • Canceling appointments
  • Not being honest with yourself
  • Being dependent on others
  • Suicidal ideations
  • Not taking care of your wellness (sleeping, eating, showering)
  • Sabotaging goals within treatment
  • Pitying yourself

Substance abuse is also a form of self-destructive behavior. A return to a previous addiction may suggest that you are dealing with emotions and feelings with an unhealthy coping skill. These behaviors may stem from childhood trauma, mental health, or low self-esteem.

Research suggests that self-harm behaviors involve those who may or may not have a mental health diagnosis. It can happen no matter what age you are or where you are in your life. There is no single cause for engaging in self-destructive behaviors.

Self-Destructive Behavior and the Brain

When you are in the space of addiction, your brain changes the chemical components that create a physical and emotional dependence on the substances. This is why you may have experienced withdrawal symptoms as soon as the substance was removed. Some symptoms may have included irritability, mood swings, restlessness, depression, and physical discomfort, encouraging the addiction to continue, thus reinforcing self-destructive behaviors.

Stop Your Self-Destructive Patterns

Self-destructive behaviors can be a coping mechanism that you have developed over time. All too often, they tend to surface when you least expect them. For example, you did not get your desired promotion at work. You put yourself down before anyone else could. This is an example of self-destructive behavior. The following are some tips to help overcome those sneaky self-destructive thought patterns.

Individual Therapy

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is utilized to recognize your thought patterns and discover the triggers that may lead to self-destructive thoughts. CBT recognizes thought patterns and changes negative thoughts into more positive ones. Therapists can help you recognize your thought patterns and assist you in creating the best version of yourself.

Identify Your Triggers

What are your triggers for self-destruction? Maybe you do not know. However, you can think about it by identifying people, places, and things that cause stress in your life. Stress is one of the biggest components of self-destructive behaviors. You need to explore the feelings that you are trying to change.

Practice Gratitude

When was the last time you extended gratitude? Research suggests that gratitude is essential for well-being. It helps you to focus on the positive things within your life and allows you to celebrate each moment.


Staying in the present moment and experiencing your thoughts and feelings is mindfulness. When you dismiss your feelings, negative thoughts emerge, and self-destruction can present itself. Mindfulness teaches us to be in the present moment, fully engaging with ourselves.

Alumni Programs to Decrease Self-Destructive Behaviors

There will always be things that you need to work on in your recovery and life. You will be growing into the best version of yourself each day. Sometimes you may feel overwhelmed with all the work that you need to do. Or maybe you feel unsupported in your life. This is why an alumni program can assist you in your recovery.

An alumni program can be beneficial in providing connection and healthy support in your recovery on your terms. You may struggle with a lack of guidance or balance in recovery. At The Guest House, we are aware of the struggle to maintain balance within recovery. We are committed to helping you to grow into the person that you are meant to be. With our team of professionals, we are dedicated to making your recovery our mission.

Self-destructive behaviors can surface at any time in your life. You may have been engaging in them and noticed them recently. Understanding your why is important so you can learn how to overcome them. You have already completed the first step. The next step is to reach out for help. It is difficult to be in a vulnerable space and ask for help. You are growing and exploring a new way of life. This is why we try to make it as convenient as possible at The Guest House. We can help you no matter where you are in your recovery journey. Call us today at (855) 483-7800 to learn more.