How Distorted Thinking Traps You in Drug Addiction  

Addiction Makes Sour Grapes

One of the most troubling aspects of alcohol or drug addiction is it can mean your own thoughts are working against you. This distorted thinking can make the unacceptable appear acceptable and the illogical appear logical. Recovery is all about identifying and eliminating these unhelpful patterns of thought.

The addicted brain is a battleground between pro-addiction thoughts (thoughts that push you towards drinking and using) and pro-recovery thoughts (thoughts that help you stay sober) ~Harold Urschel (Healing and the Addicted Brain)


Distorted Thinking & Aesop’s Sour Grapes

Examples of Distorted Thinking

  • I need to smoke a joint after work to relax
  • I’ll give up alcohol when and  if things get bad enough
  • I can’t be an alcoholic because I don’t drink as much as X
  • I’m no fun if I don’t take some amphetamine before going to a club
  • Life would be unbearable if I didn’t have heroin to help me chill out
  • You would get drunk all the time too if you had my boss
  • Life without alcohol or drugs would be boring as hell
  • I don’t trust people who don’t get high
  • I’m too young to quit drugs
  • I’m too old to stop drinking
  • Cannabis is a natural drug

What Causes Distorted Thinking?

Humans have a need to view their own behavior as rational. This poses a problem for those who become addicted to alcohol or drugs because there is so much evidence that their behavior is irrational. It leads to a situation called ‘cognitive dissonance’ – this refers to the mental discomfort you can experience if you have contradictory beliefs and opinions. Distorted thinking occurs as an attempt to resolve this inner-conflict. Click here to learn more about cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is easier to understand using the Aesop’s fable of the fox and the sour grapes. A fox is walking through the forest when he notices some juicy looking grapes hanging high above his head. He really wants to try these grapes but also realizes that he will never be able to reach them. He decides the grapes are sour, and he continues on his way without a care in the world. This is similar to how people caught up in addiction can dismiss the benefits of sobriety. Click here to learn more about the Fox and the Grapes.

How to Overcome Distorted Thinking and Recover from Addiction

The first step to overcoming distorted thinking is to acknowledge that you have at least some beliefs and opinions that are unhelpful. In Alcoholics Anonymous, you will hear people demonstrate their awareness of this insight with the words “my best thinking got me here”.

One-to-one therapy provides a good environment for identifying distorted thinking. A therapist is not there to judge you and point out your flaws – the process is all about helping you develop insights so you can weed out distorted thinking. Group therapy can work in a similar way.

Mindfulness practice helps you develop a more objective relationship with the thinking mind. This means you can be more discerning about the thoughts you allow to dictate your behavior. You may have little control over the thoughts that appear in your brain, but you can control which thoughts earn your attention. Mindfulness also has a calming effect on your mind, and this makes it easier to focus on the more productive thoughts. Click here to learn about meditation and mindfulness.

Drug Rehab is an Excellent Place to Challenge Your Thinking

Choosing an addiction facility like Serenity Vista Drug Rehab is an excellent opportunity to challenge your thinking in a safe and supportive environment. Going abroad for rehab is an excellent opportunity to experience  your new life in recovery in new and beautiful ways.

Enjoy 45 – 90 days of structured counseling and activities that are carefully chosen to re-frame a healthy life and life style. Spending time in a country and culture that are different from your own is an awesome way to explore new ways of thinking and being. Serenity Vista is located in Panama, filled with warm and humble people who subjectively declare themselves the happiest on earth. We agree.  Serenity Vista is a private pay rehab, holistic, based on the principles of the 12 Steps. Click here to learn more about Serenity Vista in Panama.

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