Dysfunctional Thought Patterns Common Among Recovering Addicts

Drug addiction treatment | LakehouseRecoveryCenter.comDrug addiction treatment often involves a close examination of who you were as an addict, who you might want to become, and the thoughts that contributed to both those expressions of yourself.

Certainly, this kind of examination must continue long past substance abuse treatment and into drug addiction treatment aftercare. Because the truth is, an investigation into thought patterns is a task that could be a lifelong necessity. As long as there is a yearning to self-harm through cravings for drugs and alcohol and as long as there are dysfunctional relationships and as long as there are major concerns in your life, then a close look at thoughts is necessary.

Thought Patterns of Recovering Addicts

In fact, drug detox isn’t a short-term experience of ridding yourself of the drugs or alcohol in your system; it is actually ongoing as an experience of thought detox. And thought detox requires that you identify the negative thought patterns, and in that sense, feel them. Just as in drug detox where you might feel the physical discomforts of withdrawal, in thought detox you might feel the discomfort of seeing parts of yourself.

The following are thought patterns that are common among those who suffer from addiction, depression, anxiety, or who have experienced a form of trauma early in life.

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.

Regardless of whether there is an addiction, however, recognizing specific thoughts can facilitate feeling better, healthier, and more alive. It can also facilitate making better choices that promote a healthy, happy life.


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