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What is a Delusion in Addiction?

The definition of the word delusion is “an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality or rational argument, typically a symptom of mental disorder.” It is easy to see how the ways we thought during our time in active addiction was clearly delusional.

One of the greatest delusions we have during addiction is the belief that our problem is not that bad. We lose sight of ourselves and think our lives are not as greatly affected by drugs and alcohol as they truly are. Others often notice and are aware of the problem well before we are. When we take a true and objective look at ourselves, sometimes referred to as a “moment of clarity”, we are experiencing a moment where there is a small break in the delusion.

Craig Nakken, in his book The Addictive Personality: Understanding the Addictive Process and Compulsive Behavior, explains that the delusional system of belief strengthens as the disease of addiction progresses. Nakken describes the delusional system as a wall surrounding a person. He writes, “First, it keeps one locked inside oneself with only the addict to relate to. An addicted person’s world is a lonely one; his or her focus is directed inward. If a person tries to break from the addictive world, he or she is confronted with the addictive delusion system.” This is evident when a person asks themself when they are going to finally stop doing drugs or drinking alcohol, and the delusion tells them that their problem is so bad that it requires help.

Another major delusion in alcoholism and addiction is the belief that one day we will be able to handle our drugs or drink like other people without our lives becoming unmanageable. Many people leave treatment with the belief that they can drink alcohol without returning to alcoholism or hard drug use. It is common for a person to believe that their problem was heroin or cocaine, so they can drink alcohol or smoke marijuana. The main text of Alcoholics Anonymous, knows as the “Big Book”, explains, “We learned that we had to fully concede to our innermost selves that we were alcoholics. This is the first step in recovery. The delusion that we are like other people, or presently may be, has to be smashed.” It is a persistent and difficult delusion to overcome, but when we do, we will find that we are on a journey toward happiness, joyousness, and freedom in our recovery.

Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, understands that a stable living environment free from alcohol, drugs and significant stress factors is one of the most vital aspects of recovery. Resilient House’s highly effective Residential Program offers medically-supported detoxification, maintenance care, individual therapies, counseling (including family therapy), and plans to help clients build life skills that will help them after discharge. For more information about residential treatment or other treatment options, please call today: (833)  242-6431