Addiction is as much a disease of one’s thinking as it is of the body. In the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous members describe the “dry drunk” or the alcoholic who abstains from drinking but displays certain behavioral characteristics common to those trying to abstain from alcohol without doing the work of total healing; socially, spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Simply ceasing substance use/abuse is not recovery, without peeling back the layers of emotions and examining one’s life, a substance abuser who simply quits alcohol or drug abuse remains stuck in a world of fear, bitterness, anxiety, anger and judgement. For true recovery the individual should be encouraged to seek treatment to avoid being stuck which often leads to relapse. This work can be done with the help of addiction treatment professionals or by entering inpatient an addiction treatment facility.
Addiction as a disease is characterized by distortions of thought. Addiction dictates a destructive thought process to substance abusers so that their thoughts and actions are consistently manipulating the world around them to secure a supply of drugs or alcohol to feed the addiction. In this way addiction affects the mind, body, and spirit of individuals in predictable ways. Family and loved ones of the addicted person are often inadvertently drawn into the drama and deception of addiction.They are impacted by the addicted person’s endless search for sedation. They display predictable patterns of behavior of their own as they try to cope with their loved one’s substance abuse and often must seek out treatment at a substance abuse treatment center.
Dysfunctional addictive thinking rationalizes drug or alcohol abuse. In the beginning individuals may self-describe as social drinkers or explain that they only take opioids because they were prescribed by a doctor even though they are still using opioids long after the prescription has ended and are now buying them off the street. They may describe their cocaine use as recreational even though they use daily. Everyone has seen a late stage drinker or drug user whose life is steadily falling apart, their health failing, their family life is in ruins, and their job is in jeopardy or already gone. Yet they fail to recognize this and remain in denial. He or she may firmly believe that using chemicals has nothing to do with any of these problems and becomes blind to logical arguments to the contrary.
Addiction is an insidious disease that often controls an individual on a subconscious level. They are not necessarily consciously and purposely misleading others, but their dysfunctional patterns of thought consistently rationalize their use despite objective evidence to the contrary.Often addicted individuals are taken in by their own thoughts, deceiving themselves and thinking they’re deceiving others. Addiction takes on unconscious quality, takes over ones’ life and one’s will. Substance abuse treatment programs recognize that it is essential that the individual begin examining the dysfunctional thinking that sustains addiction. It is equally important that the entire family see substance abuse treatment as addiction is very much a family disease.