Types of Irrational Thinking Patterns That Accompany Addiction

One of the biggest obstacles to changing one’s life in recovery is certain thinking patterns. A person might have gotten sober but if his or her life continues to be difficult, then certain thoughts might be the problem. This is precisely why one of the treatment methods for addiction is the exploration of one’s thoughts and learning how to replace negative for positive thinking.

However, it’s not just negative thinking that can get in the way of full recovery from addiction. Irrational thinking can often play a role as well. The following is a list of irrational thinking patterns that a person in recovering might recognize in themselves:

All or nothing – This kind of thinking prevents a person from seeing the gray areas of life. This kind of thinking might lead a person to jump to conclusions or catastrophize events that are not too big of a deal.

Personalization – This kind of thinking puts a person in the center of the universe. They tend to believe that everything is taking place because of them. For example, with this type of thinking, a person might feel responsible for events that have nothing to do with them. They might feel guilt or shame or anger for experiences they’ve witnessed even though they were not at all directly involved.

Grandiosity – This describes the kind of thinking that a person has when they’ve exaggerated their own sense of importance. Often, people with grandiosity want to be the center of attention and they might behave pretentiously and without consideration of others.

Magical thinking – Some people develop ideas about their life and who they are that simply aren’t true. For instance, a person might believe that because they’ve been good this year that everything is going to work out for them. Or they might believe that because they’ve gotten a raise they won’t have any other financial problems. The challenge with magical thinking is that it can prevent a person from taking action when they really should.

Delusional thinking – This type of thinking might be similar to magical thinking. It is when a person believes in something despite the evidence that exists to indicate otherwise. One’s thoughts about their drug use can be considered delusional. For instance, if there is significant evidence (such as losing a job, getting drunk every night, experiencing blackouts) indicates addiction but a person continues to believe that they don’t have a problem, this can be considered delusional.

Paranoia – This is an experience of anxiety that something is going to happen. It’s common to experience paranoia with certain types of drugs. However, the experience of paranoia can continue even if someone has gotten sober. In fact, sometimes a person can become so paranoid that they become a danger to themselves or others.

If you’re in recovery and you’re feeling the struggle of life’s demands, perhaps explore the types of thoughts you have. In fact, you might have already experienced a therapy called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This is a form of therapy that is often used in addiction treatment because it explores the connections between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. If you recognize the above thought patterns in yourself and you’d like to work on changing them, contact a therapist, drug counselor, or drug treatment center for assistance.


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