How is the mind of a drug addict or alcoholic different from that of one whom is seemingly normal and with no history of rehab or treatment?


There are some very common traits among people whom have have struggled with mental health matters like; drug addiction, alcoholism, chemical dependency, eating disorders and so on.  These are all individuals that run to any varied set of behaviors that enable them to feel differently.  Interestingly however, we hear of people speaking how drugs or alcohol are the problem when in fact, drugs and alcohol are in essence, the solution!

So at this point, those of you that do not have any firsthand experience within the world of addiction probably think we’re crazy to even imply such a thought.  Interestingly though, anyone who is a true addict or alcoholic will read the last line in the paragraph above and will almost certainly agree.  To understand this in greater depth it is important to realize that people who abuse drugs or alcohol, or struggle with bulimia, anorexia, obsessive gambling and so on, have in most cases never quite felt comfortable within their own skin since early childhood.  One of the most common traits you’ll hear from the mouth of a recovering individual is that very fact.  People who eventually became full blown addicts or alcoholics originally began drinking or using on a social basis because it brought freedom from their inner bondage, among other reasons of course.  The difference is that most people put those things down when the time came to do so, whereas some chose not to because the prospect of returning to a painful existence they had come to know so well was simply not an option.  Obviously there are many variations to this scenario, but trust me, anyone reading this passage having a background as a TRUE addict or alcoholic can relate.

If a normal person could walk through the traditional drug rehab or similar type of treatment center, or even a structured sober living home, which as of recent has become increasingly popular as an affordable alternative to licensed treatment, they would notice some commonalities among the clients.  One, they tend to be less mature than others in their age bracket.  Two, they are often selfish and self-seeking, or at  least more so than the typical person.  Three, they tend to not only deceive others, but likewise, they’re very good at self-deception.  For instance, a drug addict whom has countless relapses in his or her past will continue to deceive themselves that the next time will be different than the last.  But here’s the good news, in large part it’s not their fault.  They did not wake up one day and make the conscious decision to aspire to become the person they are today.

A major component within the rehabilitation process has to do with learning about these inner behaviors we don’t see as well as realizing the importance of being accountable for our actions.  People who are “normies,” as they are referred to by those inside the rooms of 12-step support groups like AA and NA, may have variations of these traits as well, but the difference is that they don’t materialize into behaviors that land the individual out of a job, in jail, nixed from the family and so on.  It’s difficult to explain precisely how these patterns of thoughts manifest into relapse and other bad behaviors, and it would take much more than one web page to itemize, but the information is out there.  For a very good accounting on how the minds of addicts & alcoholics differ from the minds of others, a great start would be to read the first few chapters of the basic text in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.  While A.T.R.I. neither endorses nor opposes 12-step recovery groups, we can state that these texts do provide valuable insight into this often scary and foreign world…

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The information above is intended as a general guide based on the experience of many. The creators of this web page are not licensed physicians; we are caring individuals whom have experienced the horrors of addictive-type illnesses on many levels. We speak from many years of personal and professional experience. Please feel free to contact us for any reason at: