Challenging the Addiction Thought Process

Dr. Purushothaman
January 12, 2014


Entering drug rehab goes against the thoughts that the disease of addiction produces. It can be quite a struggle to battle against addiction thoughts and behaviors and enter substance abuse treatment. There are 4 specific stages to challenging the addiction thought process: denial, resistance, bargaining and acceptance.


Addiction will convince the addict that he or she is in control. Denial is a defense mechanism first coined by Sigmund Freud, and defined as a personal rejection of reality of a situation due to overwhelmingly uncomfortable feelings. For example, an alcoholic will continue to drink alcohol despite having stomach problems blaming poor nutrition instead of alcohol consumption.

Breaking denial thinking patterns is the first step to challenging the addiction. By admitting that there is a problem the addict is also beginning to face that he or she is not in control. For many addicts, the concepts of allowing something or someone else control you or tell you what to do is unacceptable. Lowering the wall of denial and beginning to question perception, is required for the addict to begin receiving help.

Questioning your own perception of reality is not easy and there will be some initial resistance.


Resistance goes against human nature to believe that our own perception of reality may be off or wrong. Addiction is a progressive disease that warps your brain and eventually makes you believe that people are out to ruin your fun, too involved with your business because they have nothing better to do and/or that people make you use. When the addict is confronted and challenged about this skewed perception of reality they begin feel some resistance to change.

Resistance is the period of time that the addict begins to question what people may be saying about his or her behavior and use of drugs. They are starting to understand that addiction is a disease, however there is a power struggle that takes place between the addictive and non-addictive thinking. During this stage of challenging the addiction the addict will experience an increase in cravings. This will serve as a distraction from change. Towards the end of the resistance stage the addict will enter a bargaining period.


The addict is able to see the facts related to his or her disease of addiction. They have an understanding that half of their brain has an addictive thinking style and the other half has regained logical thinking. In this phase the addict begins to flip flop, regarding understanding abstinence from drugs and alcohol and thinking maybe they can control use. It is important to continue challenging the addict's frame of thought with his or her past history. Every addict has tried to control use at some point in his or her addiction unsuccessfully.

Continuing to stay present in reality regarding consequences of substance abuse, confront fantasizing and romanticizing perceived good experiences using drugs and alcohol and following direction from substance abuse counselors and professionals will help an addict get to the stage of acceptance.


Once the addict gets to the acceptance stage, he or she is able to experience change and accurate hope again. Hope is lost in addiction and gaining back hope gives the addict foresight about the future. Hope only comes through acceptance and it implies that change is possible.

Acceptance is extremely difficult for most addicts because it acknowledges that he or she has the disease of addiction. The addict will learn to challenge their own thoughts and behaviors that were addiction related. He or she will be open to support and suggestion from others regarding staying sober.

Challenging the Addiction Though Process

This process can repeat and not only apply to drugs and alcohol, but also stages for challenging any unhealthy behaviors. For example, if you have a shopaholic he or she may be in denial of financial troubles although there is evidence in credit card debt, behind in bills and mortgage payments. The addict will be resistance to family and friends who confront the spending behavior and the addict will tell his or her family and friends what they want to hear to avoid confrontation. Soon bargaining will set in especially when confronted with having to ask for help to pay bills. The addict decides maybe there is a problem that he or she could use help with.

Acceptance eventually comes if the addict is truly willing to seek change and make that first step into medically supervised drug detox or alcohol detox

Read Related Recent Articles