Addictive behavior is driven by distorted emotions stemming from unhealthy thoughts. In his recovery manual “Addictive Thinking: Understanding Self-Deception,” Abraham J. Twerski says these thoughts are sometimes called “stinking thinking” (coined in Alcoholics Anonymous). Stinking thinking doesn’t always go away just because an addict quits. Real recovery means identifying dysfunctional thoughts and replacing them with healthier ones. Here are some examples of sick things addicts tell themselves.
* I’m no good.
* I’m beyond help.
* I can’t fix my own behavior.
* I’m beyond hope.
Excuses and avoidance:
* I don’t have to fix my behavior.
* I can (or have) beat my addiction alone. I don’t need a higher power.
* My addiction doesn’t control me–I can stop anytime I want to.
* My addiction doesn’t hurt anyone else.
* I need (whatever I’m addicted to).
* I am not responsible for my own actions.
* It’s someone else’s fault I’m an addict.
* Circumstances and other people control my actions.
* I wouldn’t drink so much if…
Delusions of grandeur:
* I’m invincible. My addiction won’t hurt me.
* I’m more important than others and deserve special consideration.
* My problems are worse than others.
* Rules apply to others but not to me.
* I’m entitled to act any way I want.
* Others should do things my way.
* It’s not my problem if my behavior hurts others.
Inappropriate blame and lack of responsibility
* If something bad has happened, someone is to blame.
* It’s my job to point out the faults of others (but they shouldn’t point out mine).
* When someone else gives a reason for their mistakes, they’re just making excuses.
* When I explain what I do, it’s valid. Others should accept my reasons.
* When I feel bad, someone is making me feel that way.
Delusions of persecution:
* No one understands me.
* I feel things stronger others do.
* My needs are more important than others.
* Someone has to meet my needs.
* Someone is out to get me.
* People continually let me down.
* People exaggerate my negative actions.
* I meant well but everyone just took it wrong.
Attitude of entitlement:
* I get to make up my own rules and others have to obey them.
* When I don’t get my way, I can punish others.
* When people upset me, I can punish them.
* When I feel hurt, I can hurt others.
* When I do something, it’s right. When others do that same thing, it’s wrong.
* Shifting blame will alleviate my responsibility in the situation.
* I’m hurting so someone has to suffer.
* I don’t owe anyone anything.
* People owe me (love, affection, friendship, help, support, etc.)
* My wants are really needs. Others’ needs are wants.
* When I’m feeling something, it’s real. Others only imagine their feelings.
* Others should bail me out.
* People have to earn my respect and trust. I don’t have to earn theirs.
Even just a little stinking thinking unhealthy. Fortunately, 12-step recovery programs offer tools to help. Daily Strength.org offers online support groups for all kinds of addiction.