Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Creating New Patterns of Behavior and Thinking

Creating New Patterns of Behavior and Thinking


Creating New Patterns of Behavior and Thinking


The addicted brain experiences many thoughts and exhibits many behaviors during the course of an addiction.  The addict has thoughts related to getting the drug or alcohol, finding resources to buy the drug or alcohol, and using the drug or alcohol.  The addict’s behaviors are centered around drug or alcohol use, covering up lies told to others, calling in sick to work due to a hangover or wanting to use, or attempting to show loved ones that alcohol or drugs were not consumed.  Addicts have a propensity to not understand the consequences of their actions nor how to alleviate cravings to drugs or alcohol.

Our brains are wired to experience the sensations of pleasure and pain.  An addict can experience pleasure just by thinking about using.  Part of the addiction process involves these thoughts as one typically does not know what else to do but to act on these pleasurable experiences and thoughts.  These thoughts are also shown to be present with some process disorders such as problem gambling or compulsive shopping.  Just the idea of participating in a gambling activity or making a trip to a store can set these thoughts into motion.

When an addict enters treatment and decides to stop the use of alcohol or drugs or engaging in other addictive behaviors, there is a shift in cognitive function that will need to occur.  The addict will need to learn new patterns of behavior and new thought processes.  A few of these new patterns of behavior and thinking include learning to delay gratification, learning to not rely so much on denial, the ability to handle stress, and stopping the blame game.  Addicts do not become addicts overnight and it is the same for creating new patterns of thinking and behavior.

The primary intervention for breaking these thought processes is cognitive-behavioral therapy or CBT.  CBT is used extensively in substance abuse treatment as a way in which to change negative thought processes, which ultimately has an effect on behavior.  The individual and therapist will work together to first identify negative thoughts.  Next, the therapist will help the addict develop strategies that will circumvent these negative thoughts and allow for new positive thoughts to take their place.  Over time, the addict will be able to quickly stop the negative thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations.  The goal of CBT is to change the thought processes and to create new strategies for more positive thoughts to emerge.


An integrative approach to treatment is necessary for healing the mind, the body, and the spirit from the effects of addiction, trauma, and mental health. Cottonwood Tucson offers critically acclaimed clinical care for men, women, and adolescents. Call us today for information on our internationally recognized programs. (800) 877-4520.

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