Author: Charles Frank

The Irrational Mind of Addicts and Alcoholics: What Does it Stem From?

alcoholic thinking

The brain mediates our motivation to repeat behaviors that lead to pleasurable, rewarding states or reduce uncomfortable, distressing physical or emotional states. In this context, drinking alcohol can be motivated by its ability to provide both relief from aversive states and reward. These dual, powerful reinforcing effects help explain why some people drink and why some people use alcohol to excess. With repeated heavy drinking, however, tolerance develops and the ability of alcohol to produce pleasure and relieve discomfort decreases. Denying alcoholism is a powerfully effective, self-preservation mechanism.

The NIH defines AUD (alcoholism) as a “chronic, relapsing brain disease” characterized by a person’s inability to control or stop drinking, despite suffering health, work, and social consequences. Alcohol is classified as a central nervous system depressant which disrupts normal sensory input. When someone is intoxicated, they cannot see, hear, smell, feel or taste normally. In addition, the release of brain chemicals responsible for maintaining brain activity is suppressed.

  1. One effective form of treatment to address these thinking patterns is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which essentially aims to change behavior by identifying negative and distorted thinking patterns.
  2. There is an English-speaking Al-Anon group that meets in Helsinki.
  3. While alcoholic thinking is reversible, cognitive impairment caused by alcoholism may not be reversible.
  4. In this example, the reward that you are getting for wearing a particular outfit is the compliments that you receive.
  5. Family therapy will help build an understanding of addiction within the family as a whole.
  6. To help clinicians prevent alcohol-related harm in adolescents, NIAAA developed a clinician’s guide that provides a quick and effective screening tool (see Resources below).

Because most addictions started out because of mental illness, having an addiction while also having a mental illness is not uncommon. Various narcotics pull the minds of addicts in the direction of being 6 feet under. Hurting their loved ones constantly leaves individuals in a state of despair.

Human beings, in general, sometimes allow emotional thought processes to dictate the way that we think about things. This is especially true for addicts and alcoholics that have been living in a state of numbness for years. Decision-making processes are the different ways that the brain processes decisions.

Help = Rational Thought Process

In short, alcohol use during adolescence can interfere with structural and functional brain development and increase the risk for AUD not only during adolescence but also into adulthood. To help clinicians prevent alcohol-related harm in adolescents, NIAAA developed a clinician’s guide that provides a quick and effective screening tool (see Resources below). Friends and family of active alcoholics ask me to explain how the alcoholic thinks.

Multitasking for the alcoholic means making many messes at once. As one area of their life declines they will often focus their attention on it and take it to an extreme. As this happens, another part of their life declines and gradually their life becomes dictated by “firehouse management” – every course of action becomes based on the most pressing problem. This is an inevitably downward spiral, though some alcoholics manage to maintain it for a very long time. A-Clinics can help with intoxicant abuse and other addiction problems. A-Clinics offer, among other things, outpatient clinic services, substitution treatment and detoxification.

The Effect Emotions Can Have on the Mind of An Addict

People start drinking for a variety of reasons, but never with the intent of becoming an alcoholic. Once addicted to alcohol, they cannot avoid unbearable withdrawal symptoms when they can’t stay drunk. Many alcoholics tell their counselors that it is the overwhelming fear of withdrawing physically and psychologically from alcohol that prevents them from seeking help. When people process and make decisions based on self-control, they are taking into consideration the long-term effects that those decisions will have on them.

Everything that we do, (outside of involuntary actions like breathing) we do with the goal in mind of creating some sort of resolution. Therefore, when internal conflict arises inside of us, we pick a side. Even though it may appear like we carelessly choose sides when it comes to any internal conflict that we have, so many outside social factors affect the direction that we head in. When people are processing and making decisions through an all-or-nothing lense, they will use any small amount of relapse as an excuse to binge on any substance of their choice. Therefore, addiction can easily impair the all-or-nothing decision-making process. Sensitivity to reward is one of the major ways that the human brain makes and processes decisions.

alcoholic thinking

For practical, evidence-based tips on supporting your patients with AUD, see the Core articles on treatment, referral, and recovery. Transcend Recovery Community family of sober living homes provides a safe place for those undergoing mental health and addiction treatment to live with like-minded peers. Transcend’s Los Angeles sober living homes are located in some of the most iconic areas of the city, filled with luxurious and upscale amenities, providing plenty to do for those in our transitional housing community. Getting help is important for people that are suffering from addiction. This is because of the logic and support that we are able to get from our loved ones.

Why Are Individuals Who Suffer From Addiction “Irrational”?

Nothing except for that next drink matters to an alcoholic, not even the well-being of their children, their parents, their siblings, or their closest friends. The disease of alcoholism gradually and insidiously strips everything away from a person. We have been asked countless times whether alcoholism is truly a disease or a choice. Alcoholism is unique as a disease in that it not only hides from view – it also lies to its carrier about its presence. The person who is active in addiction has a unique choice relative to all other diseases. We see that alcoholics will abstain from drinking for a time to prove to themselves or others that they are not addicted, only to return later with a vengeance.

Substance dependence

To varying degrees, alcoholics live in denial of their destructiveness (self and others) and this further distorts what they are able to make sense of. Al-Anon offers support to friends and families of alcoholics. There is an English-speaking Al-Anon group that meets in Helsinki. Dual diagnosis treatment is a treatment program that simultaneously treats addiction and mental illness.

Low Levels of Self-Control

Mary spends many of her afternoons and evenings at the corner bar. What I am describing here is the person who is still drinking, is high functioning, and has not yet lost the things they hold dear. The disease of addiction dictates that they will lose these things in time and the rule of threes dictates a grim long term prognosis (jail, institution, and/or death). CBT is a form of psychotherapy that addresses unhealthy patterns of thought that lead to making poor choices.

The projection bias decision-making process occurs when people assume that what they currently desire will be what they will desire in a future situation. Often times projection bias causes people to underestimate what urges or cravings that they will have in the future. This is especially true if they are not experiencing any urges or cravings in current time. When there is a discrepancy in what people decide for their future and their current situation, it is easy for substance misuse to take place.