Alright thinking alone is clearly not going to get you to sobriety, especially if the cycle of addiction is in full force in your life. However, once you’ve been through drug treatment and as you’re attending drug addiction therapy, examining your thinking is going to be a significant part of your sobriety.
Thinking differently is going to be necessary. It’s common that thinking patterns continue to exist in many recovering addicts even though the addiction itself is over and a person is sober. Yet, those thinking patterns can be destructive, cause cravings, and possibly even lead to relapse. The following thinking patterns are those that are common among recovering addicts and changing them can facilitate long terms sobriety.
Negative Labeling of Yourself
Labeling yourself as “no good” can cause low self-esteem and take away any motivation or energy you might have. It can become a self-fulfilling prophecy if given enough energy and attention. You end up not trying anything that might promote success, achievement, or feeling accomplished. By not trying you end up adding to your feelings of failure and low self-esteem. You might fail an exam, for instance, and immediately label yourself as stupid. Doing so, takes the motivation out of trying harder for the next exam. Instead, you might feel like a failure in that class which might lead to feeling like a failure in other areas of your life.
Negative Labeling of Others
When you see others as “no good” or “unpleasant”, you begin to resent and/or feel anger towards them. For instance, if you read about older men who were abusing young children, you might feel angry or hostile towards older men.
Negatively Predicting the Future
This is common among those who have depression or anxiety. When there are unpleasant or anxious feelings about an upcoming event, it’s common to rehearse that event in your mind and foresee all the negative circumstances. This, of course, takes away from the ability to enjoy that event while it’s happening and also make the most of the experience. This can also take the fun out of other experiences similar to the one imagined in a negative light.
Thinking the Worst
Sometimes, it’s possible to jump to conclusions based on the behaviors of others. For instance, a woman’s husband comes home from work and he is subdued than other days. She immediately jumps to the idea that he is withdrawing from the relationship and wants to end their marriage. Another example when a friend calls to say he can’t make your birthday party; you assume that he doesn’t like you anymore and is distancing himself from you.
Discounting the Positive
Core beliefs about the world can prevent you from seeing the positive. For instance, if you have a core belief about being unworthy, you may not be able to see the value that you bring to your job and your workplace. You might discount the positive when a co-worker praises your efforts.
Other types of distorted thinking include exaggeration, over-generalizing, creating “shoulds” and “musts”, and underestimating your ability to adapt, change, or bear with discomfort. These types of dysfunctional thinking are more common than one would think. Although they can indeed lead to addictive patterns, many of those who are not addicted to substances also experience these unhealthy thinking patterns.
A necessary part of drug addiction therapy is exploring the quality of one’s thoughts. Experts in the drug counseling field and those within the Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) community know the term stinky thinking. It’s a phrase that refers to the destructive and dysfunctional patterns of thinking that alcoholics tend to experience, even after they get sober.
During drug addiction therapy, it’s essential to examine your thoughts, find negative thought patterns and replace them with healthy ones. Thoughts contribute to your experience of life, your feelings, choices, and behavior. Changing them can change everything, including your ability to stay sober.