As addicts, we have an incredible knack for rationalizing our drug or alcohol use. This ability to rationalize, coupled with social stereotypes, provides the framework for delusional thinking. It’s a mindset we have to change when we enter recovery and, once clean, it’s an outlook we have to guard against for life.
Just Say No to Negative, Destructive Thinking
Once we leave rehab and head for home, it’s important that we avoid falling back into our old and familiar frames of mind – particularly those thoughts that are dominated by negativity, victimization and escapism.
That kind of thinking creates a very dangerous and very dark place for us – especially when we’re finding our footing during early recovery.
As we all know, our attitudes play one of the largest roles in how we look at life and our new-found sobriety. Avoiding delusional thinking is essential if we want to stay clean. If that little voice inside your head starts whispering harmful, self-destructive and delusional thoughts, it’s time to circle the wagons, reach out to a sober friend or counselor and ask for some support.
Examples of Delusional Thinking
Here’s a look at 5 common “red flag” delusions that could keep you stuck in addiction.
- Delusion: Addiction is a choice; I can stop anytime.Drug and alcohol use is a choice. Addiction is not. After prolonged substance abuse, addiction biologically rewires your brain’s chemistry. Although an addict may believe they’re in control, this brain chemistry seriously affects impulse control. In other words, addiction removes choice.
- Delusion: Rehab is just a punishment.Treatment is a punishment for addiction the same way chemotherapy is a punishment for cancer. Treatment is, well, treatment—not punishment. Although many addicts do bad things while in active addiction, this behavior is a symptom of the underlying disease of addiction.
- Delusion: I can’t get addicted to legal drugs.The U.S. is embroiled in a painkiller addiction epidemic. Legal opioids affect the same reward systems in the brain as heroin and morphine, and addiction to legal pills has become a widespread public health issue. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdoses of prescription painkillers are killing more people than heroin and cocaine combined. Not only do legal drugs cause addiction, they can be very dangerous.
- Delusion: I have a good job and a loving family – I’m not addicted.Many addicts believe in a certain fairy-tale, or narrative, regarding addiction. The real addict is unemployed, homeless and alone. Although addiction may eventually lead to these relationship outcomes, many addicts can tread water for years before going under. It’s delusional to associate “true” addiction with these stereotypes. Addiction takes many forms. Comparing one situation to another is merely deflection and rationalization.
- Delusion: I’ve tried treatment before, but it doesn’t work.Although professional treatment has a relatively healthy success rate, 40 to 60 percent, many do relapse. Relapse is not a failure. For many, it’s a normal part of the recovery process.
Drop the “One Size Fits All” Thinking
There is also no “magic bullet” for addiction. For some, 12-Step programs are successful, for others, not so much. To increase the chances of long-term sobriety, it’s important to find your treatment program.
Additional Reading: My Dog Taught Me How to Live and Love
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