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Addiction Thinking Is An Old Comfort Blanket

Going to drug rehab is a big commitment.  You are taking time and energy to focus in on your addiction.  You are creating a recovery plan for your life.  You are working hard at changing your ways and breaking bad habits.  Except once in a while, you find yourself sinking into something.  Something soft and comfortable, easy because it’s so familiar.  It’s not that you aren’t trying to fight it – it’s just so much easier to let go and fall back into your old addiction thinking.

Addiction Thinking Can Turn Negative Quickly

Before you know it, you’ve let some small bug in your head become a major emotional issue.  You thought you were fine spending the day alone, your first day completely alone since coming home from drug rehab.  But something got your attention, started making you feel hurt that your friends had other things to do that day.  Your mom had somewhere else to go that day.  Your boyfriend had important meetings to be at all day.

It was so nice for a while, coming home and everyone was all helpful and making sure you made a nice soft landing into real life.  Then one day, a total “coincidence”, they’ve all abandoned you.  You’re on your own now – how’s that for starting out sober?  Just when you need them the most, they’ve turned and run.  Why would they care if I stayed sober anyway?

Did you notice how that narrative built from something positive and gradually turned into something emotionally negative and reactive? That’s how subtle addiction thinking can be.  Just one turn of thought in the wrong direction can take you on a ride.  I’m not saying that just having that thought would make a newly sober person have an immediate relapse.  I’m saying that it didn’t take much for some self doubt and uncertainty to take the narrative in a strongly negative direction.  There wasn’t much in-between tone either.

This black and white style of thinking is a big part of addiction thinking. It either is or it isn’t.  Things are either going well or they have just tanked.  It’s hard for things to be in a middle ground, giving someone the benefit of the doubt, taking some time to look more into the situation.  And when these thoughts build up inside, things can get pretty tough.  You may start doubting that drug rehab was even worth your time, maybe having some drug cravings, a wish to escape into the oblivion of being high, etc.

Drug Treatment Helps People Recognize Black and White Thinking

That’s why recovering drug addicts have sponsors, so they can dump these negative thoughts out on the table and get some good clear feedback from someone who’s been there.  Having a lapse in your healthy thinking doesn’t mean that drug treatment was a waste of time, it just means you are human.  The black and white addiction thinking didn’t develop overnight, and it won’t improve overnight either.

When this happens, it’s important to use a journal, call your sponsor, contact your drug treatment counselor, go to an AA type of meeting – something to get the thoughts out into the open.  It’s the openness that helps you realize what happened and how you became so negatively turned.  An episode like this can actually help you adjust your recovery plan.  Maybe you discover something important about your experience that can help you before it gets that far the next time.

More than anything, keep in mind that black and white thinking is difficult to permanently turn around.  Some of it may always linger in your mind – it’s a manner of recognizing it and not letting it take over.  With practice and support, you can learn how to live keep black and white thinking from putting you at risk.

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