Once an recovering addict has gone through drug detox and they’ve completed substance abuse treatment, they’re often still in need of much healing. In fact, although a person might have entered recovery there are still parts of his or her personality that warrant exploration.
Even when a person is no longer drinking and has gone through drug detox harmful patterns of thought might continue to exist that can cause cravings and difficult moods.
It’s the reason for the term among the Alcoholic Anonymous (AA) community – the dry drunk. The negative connotation to this phrase comes from the fact that family, friends, and co-workers must still bear the irascibility, arrogance, and destructive behavior of a recovering alcoholic.
Experts in the drug counseling field and those within the AA community also know the term stinking thinking. It’s a phrase that refers to the destructive and dysfunctional patterns of thinking that alcoholics tend to experience, regardless of whether they are drinking.
For example, thinking patterns that are common among new recovering addicts are:
Thinking Patterns To Avoid
- Failure to put oneself first before others
- Dishonesty about the addiction, life problems, and dysfunctional relationships
- Unrealistic expectations of others and of themselves
- Tendency to blame others or external circumstances when they are accountable
- Easily triggered by others’ comments and the tendency to take things personally
- A failure to live up to one’s promises and commitments
- The inability to deal constructively with challenges
- Lacking maturity
- The inability to fulfill obligations
Of course, all recovering addicts do not share these thought patterns to the same degree. And depending on the stage of recovery they are in, some of these patterns may no longer be an issue.
However, the destruction that is inherent in the addiction cycle is often a result of these thinking patterns. For this reason, unhealthy thoughts need to be addressed and healed. Really, the only time to accurately address them is when a person is in recovery. Trying to do so while a person is still drinking is like trying to clean a pot while it’s still on the stove and filled with stew.
Forms of Treatment
One effective form of treatment to address these thinking patterns is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) essentially aims to change behavior by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns. CBT is a form of psychotherapy that addresses unhealthy patterns of thought that lead to making poor choices. CBT also provides healthier coping mechanisms to help manage challenging emotions, triggering life circumstances, and stress, replacing any old methods of coping that may have furthered dysfunction and stress. CBT can also enhance the effectiveness of any treatment medication that an addict might be taking.
Furthermore, CBT can help with the ambivalence that an individual who is new in recovery might experience. One of the ways that the 12-step model attempts to address this ambivalence is through the first step, which is to admit one’s addiction.
Essentially, when an individual can admit their powerlessness over alcohol, they are more likely to make the changes they need in order to get sober, and thus, reducing their ambivalence towards sober living.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can find those thoughts that exacerbate the ambivalence and replace it with a healthier thought. In general, CBT is a highly effective modality for transforming stinking thinking into thoughts that are healing, healthy, and whole.
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