Why Can’t I Stop Using Already?

If you’re reading this, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself why you can’t stop using opioids. The answer to this question is complicated because only you can discover the real truth about your demons. It’d be even better if a mental health professional helped you figure this out, but not everyone has that luxury. What does your relationship with your thoughts look like?

You may have heard this already, but addiction is also referred to as a thinking disease. All addicts have a very negative thought process about themselves and the world around them. This is not to say that we’re completely void of happiness or positive thoughts, but the negative always dominates. This usually stems from childhood wounds and critical voices from growing up. It could’ve been parents, siblings, friends, other adult figures, or all of the above. We may have developed an unhealthy perception of the world that stayed with us into adulthood.

If you’re someone new to recovery, you may be asking yourself: What is recovery, really? In essence, recovery is the process of getting better and healing from our wounds. We use the word “process” because for most people, recovery is never-ending. It’s a lifelong concept filled with self-reflection, honesty, connection, and accountability. It’s important to realize recovery isn’t just about addressing a substance abuse, it’s about addressing a thinking disease. 

Pretty much all alcoholics and addicts suffer from distorted thinking, which is to say our minds can become occupied with super negative thoughts (sometimes obsessive and intrusive in nature) that often don’t match reality at all. Negative thoughts enter our brains, we have emotional reactions to the thoughts, and attach to them as if true. Think about this scenario:

You realize on a Sunday you need to email your boss that you screwed up on a thing at work. You finally conjure up the courage to do it that night, but he doesn’t respond right away. See if this super negative thought process sounds familiar to you:

Monday: Okay, it’s been a full 12 hours. Why hasn’t he responded? Oh God, I may be in trouble here. I shouldn’t have emailed him. I should’ve just kept my big mouth shut.

Tuesday: Yep, it’s been two days now. I’m definitely fired. He figured out what a crap person I am and that I suck at my job. What took him so long? Surely everyone knows.

Wednesday: But how dare he fire me? What I did wasn’t all that bad, and I’ve worked my butt off at this job. He’s going to have to fire me to my face. I’d love to see him try.

Thursday: I should just quit. I’ll beat him to it. He knows I suck, I know I suck. Time to put in my notice and look for other jobs. Maybe they’ll take me back at my last job.

Friday: So he finally emails me back saying it wasn’t a big deal??? Are you kidding???

Guess what? Most of your thoughts are not true and most of your thoughts are not you.