Recovering from addiction is an ongoing process. Initially, physical recovery is the main focus. However, in order to navigate life clean and sober, mental and emotional recovery must become the focus. Living a life of addiction creates negative mental and emotional patterns that replay long after chemicals have been removed. There are specific warning signs that can indicate addiction might be looming.
One of the first troubling thought patterns occurs when an addict begins to romanticize the past. Addicts usually equate drinking and drug use with “partying”. However, by the time addiction has become a serious issue, the party is long over. The laughter has died down as addiction has spiraled out of control.
Somehow, addicts have a powerful ability to forget the horrors of life riddled with addiction. Lying, stealing and other awful behaviors drove away family and friends. Instead, they remember only fun, carefree times. Dwelling on the fond memories associated with drug use is known as romanticizing. This is a serious danger sign for recovery efforts.
Keeping secrets is classic addicted behavior, as well. Dishonesty and delusion characterize active addiction. However, beyond that, addicts lie to themselves about who and what they truly are. Addiction treatment and aftercare requires the addict look deeply into motives, thoughts and feelings.
Hiding behaviors, thoughts or emotions not only hinders deeper levels of recovery, it can be a warning sign that your disease is talking. Addicts are often chameleons, morphing into who and what they perceive the people around them want them to be. Keeping secrets and living in delusion is counterintuitive to recovery.
It is often so difficult for an addict to clearly determine the motives behind specific behaviors. Addiction is driven by fear of not getting what you want or fear of losing what you have. This fear can creep into an addict’s mind quickly, leading a struggling addict to rationalize certain behaviors. Some rationalizations in recovery include:
- Missing recovery meetings or therapy sessions.
- Attending risky events.
- Associating with other actively using addicts or drinkers.
- Making excuses to avoid positive practices.
- Excusing irrational emotional outbursts.
The ugly step-sister of rationalization is justification. Justifying means that there is always a reason for any decision or behavior that should honestly require a good, hard look. An addict who justifies behavior would always have a good reason for behavior that gets in the way of recovery. “I’m working very hard at my new job, so I don’t have time for meetings.” Justification usually comes in the form of supporting the risky behavior (missing meetings) by citing a good reason (working hard). An addict can become defensive and resentful when anyone questions their reasoning.
Often addicts suffer from depression. One sign that the disease of addiction has kicked into overdrive is when depressive thoughts move into complete hopelessness. If you find yourself pondering the words “never” and “always”, this could indicate feelings of hopelessness will soon nestle into to roost.
Don’t allow hopelessness to derail your recovery. Help is available for depression and hopelessness to keep your recovery one track. If you feel like there is no way out, call 800-895-1695 (Who Answers?) to talk to a counselor who can help.
Early in recovery, most programs recommend helping others as a way to get outside of yourself. Self-centeredness in addiction simply means thinking about yourself too much. Addicts think about everything in terms of how it will affect them. For example, it would not be uncommon for an addict to find out her mother has cancer and immediately feel upset and angry about having to take Mom to appointments or help more with her care.
With addiction, thoughts usually turn to “How will this affect me?” instead of “How can I be helpful to someone else.
Perhaps one of the most troubling thought-processes of an addict is delusion. When addicts find themselves at odds with the people closest to them, this can be the result of delusional thinking. If you are in recovery from addiction, but find yourself trying to convince everyone around you that your ideas or actions are best, you may be on a collision course with serious trouble.
The disease of addiction will say anything to guide an addict back to using chemicals. Take care to insure you aren’t deluding yourself by checking your thoughts and behaviors with a trusted counselor or other addicts in recovery.
Sobriety is a prize. Don’t allow your disease to start speaking negatively to you, leading you back down a slippery slope. Ongoing recovery takes dedication and ongoing practice. Watching for negative mental patterns is important. If you find that any of the above patterns are troubling, call 800-895-1695 (Who Answers?) for help today. You deserve the beauty inherent in a clean and sober life.
NA (1983). The triangle of self-obsession. Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc. Retrieved on April 19, 2017 from: https://www.na.org/admin/include/spaw2/uploads/pdf/litfiles/us_english/IP/EN3112.pdf
Quello, S., Brady, K. & Sonne, S. (2005). Mood disorders and substance use disorders: A complex comorbidity. Addiction Science and Clinical Practice. 3(1): 13-21. Retrieved on April 19, 2017 from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2851027/