Irrational Beliefs in Addiction Recovery

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cognitive distortion
 (redirected from Cognitive distortions)cognitive distortion
errors in thinking that continue even when there is obvious contradictory evidence.  
Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 9th edition. © 2009, Elsevier.

Hi it's Dermot again. If you read my last blog from 6th April, you will know that this is a follow up to that blog and part of a "Recovery from Addiction Series", If not read on:

Cognitive Distortions

In Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), identifying Cognitive Distortions or Irrational Beliefs are key in helping you to start identifying your Core Beliefs

Cognitive Distortions are simply thoughts with related feelings we have about how we see ourselves and the World around us, and our place in it. In most cases they are not factual, only imagined or made worse than they are.

When I first came into recovery, I'd never heard of Cognitive Distortions, but I had heard of character defects, which where mainly behaviours and attitudes. When I was first exposed to CBT and Cognitive Distortions, it was like an epiphany moment for me. It all made sense, and from there I was able to start putting together the peices of the jigsaw puzzle that was my past.

Here are examples of some Cognitive Distortions:


All-or-nothing thinking

Also called black-and-white thinking. You view a situation in only two categories instead of on a continuum.



Also called fortune telling. You predict the future negatively without considering other, more likely outcomes.


Disqualifying or discounting the positive

You unreasonably tell yourself that positive experiences or qualities do not count.


Emotional Reasoning

You think something must be true because you “feel” (actually believe) it so strongly, ignoring or discounting evidence to the contrary.



You put a fixed, global label on yourself or others without considering that the evidence might more reasonably lead to a less disastrous conclusion.


Magnification/ minimization

When you evaluate yourself, another person or a situation, you unreasonably magnify the discomfort and dismiss the long term benefits e.g. I can’t stand it, versus. It will be great when I have it finished. E.g. driving test, degree programme, the house painted or business.


Mental Filter.

Also called abstraction. You only pay attention to the information that fits with your belief. You pay undue attention to negative details instead of seeing the whole picture.


Mind reading

You believe you know what others are thinking, failing to consider other,

more likely possibilities.



You make sweeping negative conclusions that go far beyond the current situation.



You believe others are behaving negatively because of you, without considering more plausible explanations for their behaviour.


Making demands “shoulds” “musts” “have to” “need to” statements.

Also called imperatives. You have a precise, fixed idea of how you or others should behave and you overestimate how bad it is that these expectations are not met.


Tunnel vision

You only see the negative aspects of the situation.


What I found by becoming aware of my own Cognitive Distortions and realize that as they where created by me, they could be challenged and changed by me, My life began to change rapidly. Thats why I have added "Recovery from Addiction Series" Cognitive Distortions.

From this realisation I learned that there are a lot of things in my life that I can change, which has encouraged me to confidently make choices & decisions & stand by those decisions with conviction. 

My next article is on Courage, stay tuned.

The article "Recovery from Addiction Series" Irrational Beliefs is the opinion of the author and if you would like to contribute to it, please leave a comment in the comment box below. If you want to subscribe, for free, to any further blogs of mine please click on the blue box below.

Growth in Recovery and in life, takes commitment & courage, but if you are not willing to take a risk, and push your boundaries, even a little then you will be stuck where you are, until you do.

If, like me & you are in recovery, then I know your pain & you have been to hell and back. But think of this, you are not a victim, but a survivor and as a survivor you deserve to give yourself every opportunity you possibly can. "Keep breaking the mould and keep it real"

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