Top 10: Cognitive Distortions

Many in recovery have heard the phrase "I don't have a drinking problem, I have a thinking problem."

A cognitive distortion is defined on wikipedia as exaggerated or irrational thought patterns that are believed to perpetuate the effects of psychopathological states, especially depression and anxiety.

Also known as "Stinking Thinking," cognitive distortions can be extremely dangerous to the addict or alcoholic in early recovery. Once drugs and alcohol are removed from the person's body, they are still left with many of the habits that the disease of addiction creates. These habits go beyond physical manifestation.

Our thought processes and perspectives are also habit based. Seeing the glass as half empty is a habit you've developed in order to justify or cope with the current state of your life. The problem is that after long enough of believing the glass is half empty, it becomes your truth making it very difficult to reverse.

Our goal in this week’s Live with Dr. Huttman, Dr. Fraser, and Blake was to offer the recovering addict or alcoholic some insight into how cognitive distortions manifest themselves and also discuss how they may lead to a relapse if left untreated.

Some of the highlights this week were:

  • Extreme/ All-or-Nothing Thinking (#1)

  • No “gray” in situations. Things are placed into black and white categories. So, if something isn’t absolutely perfect, it is a total failure.

  • Filter (#5)

  • You pick out a single negative detail or comment and dwell on it exclusively.

  • Catastrophizing (#4)

  • You exaggerate the importance of your flaws and failures, or you minimize the importance of your positive qualities and characteristics.

  • Should Statements (#9)

  • You tell yourself that things should be the way you hoped or expected them to be. This can take the form of self or other judgement.

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