One of the main reasons it can be so hard to break away from an addiction is that your own thoughts may be working against you. It can feel like there is an enemy in your brain because, even after you decide to quit, there can be thoughts of relapse and cravings to just give in. Sometimes these false thoughts can create such a powerful prison that the person remains trapped in addiction indefinitely. It is only by seeing though these lies that recovery becomes possible.
From Where Do The False Thoughts Supporting Addiction Come?
Every human will have at least some thoughts every day that would fall into the category of irrational or possibly even dangerous. For example, if somebody bumps into you when you are stressed, the thought of shouting at him or her might cross your mind, but you do not do this because know it was an accident. If you took action on every thought that entered your mind, it is doubtful you would be allowed to remain free in society, and you would need to be locked away for your own protection as well as the protection of other people.
There are some false thoughts that just pop into your mind and can be easily dismissed (like the example above), but there are others that are harder to ignore. In order to break free of addiction, the first step is to recognise the thoughts that are supporting behaviour and then eliminate them.
The False Thoughts That Support Addiction
The thoughts that support the addictive behaviour are usually protected behind a wall of denial. The person may be so convinced by these ideas that he or she never even considers questioning them. Examples of the types of false thoughts that tend to exist in the addicted mind would include:
- the belief that breaking free of addiction is too hard
- the idea that life in recovery is all about sacrifice and living a boring life
- the belief that the person deserves to be addicted
- cynicism about recovery and life in sobriety
- the idea that asking for help is a sign of weakness
- the idea that things will improve in the future without quitting alcohol or drugs
- believing that substance abuse is ‘normal behaviour’ – this delusion is supported because the individual tends to spend all of his or her time around other substance abusers
- terminal uniqueness is the belief that the person has that he or she would be able to escape the normal consequences of this type of behaviour
- the belief in a special day in the future when giving up is going to be easy
- accepting addiction with the justification of ‘it’s just the way I am’
- blaming others for the consequences of the addictive behaviour (for example, ‘I drink because she nags me all the time’)
- unwillingness to trust the opinions of addiction experts.
How to Escape the Prison of False Thoughts
Most false thoughts can be exposed by critical thinking. This means checking for the evidence that supports them and, if this evidence is not sufficient, to dismiss the thought. This can be difficult for a person to do without some type of help, and one of the most effective options for overcoming false thoughts is to begin spending time with a therapist. One of the advantages of entering a rehab programme is that much of the work that goes on is directed towards challenging these unhelpful ideas.
In order to begin breaking free of the prison of false thoughts, you need to become more open to having your beliefs challenged. This is harder to do if you identify too much with these thoughts and see any challenge of them as a challenge to your personality. The reality is that these false thoughts are not what you are and you would be much better off without them.