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Addictive Thinking – What is it?

February 27, 2017 - - 0 Comments

Addictive ThinkingThere is a pervasive attitude in many non-addicts that if you don’t want to be addicted to drugs or alcohol, you can just stop.  This sounds rational – stop and you are not addicted anymore. Right?  The problem with this approach is that drinking or drugging is only a symptom of a deeper problem.  Addictions manifest for a variety of reasons, genetics, desire to escape, boredom, depression and more. Once the addiction gains steam, addictive thinking develops which helps the addict continue to use despite consciously knowing they shouldn’t.

Addictive thinking is the process of self-rationalization and deception.  Superficially, you convince yourself that your desired course of action is correct and fine to do.  Of course, this train of thought does not factor in many of the serious consequences of the decisions you ultimately make, which cause great trouble and pain.  When many alcoholics eventually seek the help of an alcoholism treatment program, they learn through therapy how their addictive thinking works, how to recognize it and how to change their patterns of behavior.

Otherwise known to members of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous as “stinking thinking”, there are many different aspects to addictive thinking.

Blaming Others

Addicts often play the role of a victim.  This type of thinking makes everything that happens to them the fault of others, giving them a reason to use. Without this thinking, the addicts would actually be taking responsibility for themselves and what happens to them.  So because they want to keep using, this type of thinking helps them avoid looking inward and facing their addiction and problems.


Addicts are so focused on their own use, that they develop thought patterns and habits that serve themselves and ignore others, including the people close to them.  This includes a greatly diminished ability to show empathy or emotional commitment to others.  The power of addiction can be so great, that they only care about one thing, using, and will sometimes do this until they completely isolate themselves.  Alcoholism treatment programs know how damaging this trait is, which is why there is a lot of focus in recovery to help others, which is the opposite of selfishness.  It’s also why many A.A. members focus on the mantra of “contrary action”, which helps fight any selfish desires.

Creating Negative Situations

If you didn’t have anything in your life to worry about, why would you use drugs or alcohol?  You probably wouldn’t.  So addictive thinking kicks in another way and causes you to unconsciously create conflict where it doesn’t exist so that you have something to use over.  This can be in the form of a lot of different things, from being late to extreme procrastination or being irrational or moody about things that may have no real importance at all.


Addicts are very focused on getting what they need and want when they want it.  They will not think about things in a calm, rational manner as many normal people do.  They live for excitement and will do things that have serious consequences without any care whatsoever.  

How Can Addictive Thinking be Managed?

First and foremost, if you or someone you know is battling an addiction, seek help.  Drug treatment programs will help you to understand what is causing the addiction.  It’s sort of like peeling back the layers of an onion before you get to the middle.  The middle part is what you need to understand and change most.

Addictive thinking is most prevalent in addicts who are actively using.  In sobriety, the frequency of addictive thinking will be a lot less, although it will still be present.  As your length of sobriety increases, so will your ability to think more clearly, to be more patient and to weigh the consequences of your actions.  

Of course, sobriety comes first, but there are many things you can do to help yourself as your recovery progresses.  Meditating for ten minutes a day can help you process what is going on in your life and what you need to focus on for that day.  Do your best each day to help someone and to be kind.  Focus on being present in each moment.

Good and bad patterns of thinking happen to everyone one, it’s just that it happens a little bit more to addicts.

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