“Taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them.” ~Byron Katie
An addicted brain is a brain that has adopted highly distorted thought patterns. Justifying behaviors that are both physically and emotionally destructive requires a skewed inner-dialogue. Perhaps the most pervasive core belief that addicts adopt is that drugs are a prerequisite for happiness. Once this belief is present, the term sobriety becomes synonymous with unhappiness, sacrifice, and deprivation.
A key to successful recovery is noting the presence of these distortions and learning how to redirect them into more logical and productive core beliefs. Treatment modalities that incorporate Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) are employed by professionals as a means of developing a healthier belief system. (National Association of Cognitive Behavioral Therapists)
Below, you’ll find examples of five healthy core beliefs that promote sobriety and can aid in relapse prevention.
Drugs and Alcohol Solve Nothing
I Am In Control of My Thoughts and My Actions
I Can Have Fun Without Drugs and Alcohol
I Am Worth Knowing
I Can Design My Own Recovery
Because of the numbing effects of drugs and alcohol, addicts associate them with relief from daily stressors. The relief, however, is quite temporary and can be likened to slapping a bandaid on a gaping wound. No healing takes place when one is under the influence. In fact, more damage is often incurred because of decreased inhibitions and risk-taking behaviors.
When addiction takes hold, it can feel as though the drugs and alcohol are in the driver’s seat. Addicts lose the sense that they have a choice as they succumb to the progressive cycle of feeding the cravings. With proper supports in place for both the physical and emotional withdrawal process, an addict can successfully reclaim a sense of personal power.
One of the most common topics in sobriety forums is “fun”. Many addicts have woven drugs and alcohol into everyday activities and, therefore, associate it with celebration, release, reward, and pleasure. Again, these are associations that have been created through repeated thoughts and behaviors and requires a “reprogramming” of sorts. Once healthy replacement behaviors are identified, they can be put into practice. Overtime, an addict’s brain and body will recalibrate and begin to associate new sources of pleasure.
Negative self-talk is a common symptom in addicts. Years of labeling oneself as worthless, pathetic, and defeated leads to a grossly distorted self-image. A comprehensive recovery plan will encourage the addict to grow acquainted with who he or she is without the presence of substances. Recovering a sense of self-worth is no easy feat, but is imperative in securing long-term success without risk of relapse.
Addicts are often under the misconception that there is only one path to recovery. There are, however, countless treatment modalities and options when it comes to getting well. People are different and will, therefore, respond to different types of interventions. Regardless of which treatment approach resonates, support is a necessity. Hip Sobriety is one of many online resources that encourages an individualized approach to treatment.
The addiction cycle thrives on negativity. By addressing the distorted core beliefs that perpetuate substance abuse, addicts can reclaim control over a seemingly hopeless situation. Simply acknowledging the presence of these self-defeating thoughts is a tremendous step in the recovery process and can kick-start a journey to a healthy and balanced future.
Jen Anderson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), Sobriety Coach, and former alcohol enthusiast living in Florida with her husband and son.