Work with our therapists and counselors to learn the best ways to make a change and start tuning out these unhealthy thinking patterns. Most of my clients have some cognitive distortions or thinking errors around themselves and their addiction. One of the most common is a thinking pattern that is called all-or-nothing thinking. As there are only two options possible for the thinker, never anything in the middle. Regardless of how long you’ve been using, you may feel that your drug of choice has damaged your brain beyond the point where you will be able to recover. The reality is that, although damage may have occurred, this doesn’t mean that there is no hope of correcting distorted thinking.

thinking errors in addiction

Left unchecked, these distortions can become damaging and limit your ability to do what you want or need to do, such as stopping substance abuse. Cognitive distortions are inaccurate and untrue thoughts or beliefs which distort one’s reality. Because this error in thinking may lead to relapse, individuals in recovery must avoid catastrophizing. It may very well seem like it, but your addiction and the consequences of it, are not the end of the world. The vital point is to recognize the measures you’re taking to better your life and how you’re getting closer to ending a toxic relationship with harmful substances.

Support Network

Interested in learning more about the impact of your thoughts on your mood and behaviors? You’re taking the steps and making progress, but you crave more. You want answers about why habits have formed in your life and how you can take steps to ensure they don’t take hold again. Having awareness of our thoughts and differentiating what serves our recovery and what does not is very much an ongoing process. Here, we can learn from others, from peers, mentors, teachers and gurus.

You can discover alternative non-drug activities or things you can pursue with non-drug-using people in therapy. Almost everyone struggles with negative thinking patterns, or what doctors call cognitive distortions. These thinking patterns can range from low self-esteem to assuming the worst after a simple conversation with someone. For those in addiction recovery, cognitive distortions can be especially dangerous. These patterns can often increase anxiety and depression, fueling unhealthy behaviors that could lead to relapse. I have a fascinating topic for you today and it was one of my favorite things to learn in my own recovery process.

a focus on gratitude for what is going well in my life and for those around me

If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again. For instance, you go to an NA meeting for the first time and the group leader singles you out, making you uncomfortable. When a friend suggests going to a different NA meeting, you dismiss the idea by saying “no way, NA is a cult of jerks” despite the fact that you’ve only been to one meeting. Practice doing this 4-step thought exercise to begin choosing and thinking less twisted thinking! Then, notice it creates different feelings, better connections with others, and more positive experiences.

What is emotional reasoning in addiction?

Examples of emotional reasoning include thoughts like, “I'm better in social situations when drinking—I can't give that up,” “If I can't control my alcohol use, that must be a sign,” and “I know my alcohol use endangers my health, but I can't make myself want to get sober.”

While every person’s thought patterns, including cognitive distortions, are different, the 10 major cognitive distortions could relate to alcohol addiction in the following ways. Cognitive distortions are faulty beliefs or thinking traps that individuals have about themselves, others and the surrounding environment. These ideas or assumptions may cause harmful actions, thoughts and emotions reinforced over time, especially when drugs or alcohol are involved. For example, if a person thinks they need a drink to relax, this may develop into alcoholism. There are dozens of recognized distorted thinking patterns researchers believe can be harmful in the long-run. For those in addiction recovery, addressing these distortions may be a matter of life or death.

All or Nothing Thinking

Our mental well-being in recovery depends on our ability to manage our thoughts, regulate our emotions, and behave productively and responsibly despite our circumstances. In this article we hope to help you identify some of the common thinking errors and provide some ways to challenge your thinking. How do individuals in addiction recovery reshape their thoughts from irrational distortions to positive, self-affirming thoughts? Here are four tips that can help to expose the thought errors, and help you start overcoming them.

Awfulizing keeps you in a state of being a victim, therefore giving your power of choice away. This train of thought skips assumes the worst scenario at many future points in the person’s life, including the failure of alcohol addiction rehab and medical treatment based on a single drink. I have experienced many thinking error episodes in my own journey. It takes continual awareness, positive input, and feedback from support people and a willingness to make necessary changes in order to maintain a healthy thought process.

In other words, cognitive distortions are your mind convincing you to believe negative things about yourself and your world that are not necessarily true. A distorted thought or cognitive distortion — and there are many — is an exaggerated pattern of thought that’s not based on facts. It consequently leads you to view things more negatively than they really are. The change fallacy is when you use social control to force others to act according to your desires.

Can overthinking cause addiction?

The legitimacy of being addicted to overthinking may be up for debate by some, while others can attest to the daily suffering caused by being consumed by their thoughts. This all-pervading need to analyze, fix, control, and manipulate the outcome is addictive thinking at its finest.

This black-and-white way of thinking splits life into good or bad. In reality, this simplified thinking hinders you because most things in life are neutral, and not meant to be labeled or judged as positive or negative occurrences. When you are constantly judging you’re every action in recovery as “good” or “bad”, you end up categorizing yourself as “successful” or a “failure”. Due to this, it is important to remember that self-criticism is only helpful and healthy in moderation and through an objective lens. The all-or-nothing mentality is a sickness of the perfectionist.

So… all of that to say- because our brains function a little differently, I think we are a little more negative by nature because our brains don’t naturally fire the feel-good stuff. In this little pleasure center, your brain releases all the natural feel-good neurotransmitters. You hear about serotonin and dopamine- these are all the heavy hitters and they are responsible for all the good and positive feelings we have- happiness, excitement, contentment, relaxation.

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