Opinions in Addiction:
Addicts can be highly opinionated people. It is a characteristic of the addictive personality and may be due to feelings of low self esteem. These opinions can help the addict make sense of the world and their place in it.
Many of the beliefs that such individuals hold can be based on misunderstandings and illogical reasoning. The problem with addiction is that it impacts the ability of people to think straight. The individual may develop all types of unhelpful opinions that they use to justify and make sense of their their current situation. If people carry such opinions with them into recovery it can make life difficult. Developing sobriety usually requires given up on many opinions and adapting new ones that are more conducive to the sober life.
An opinion can be defined as a belief or judgment that people hold but that does not have sufficient evidence to ensure complete certainty. Most opinions are not based on pure facts but more on emotions or interpretation of facts. Some of these beliefs will carry more weight than others. A doctor’s opinion is usually held in high regard because it will be backed by their knowledge and experience. A personal opinion can be based on hardly any facts and can easily be formed due to misunderstandings or prejudices.
Dangerous Opinions for People in Recovery:
Humans have an almost unlimited catalogue of opinions. Some of the ones that can be particularly dangers for people in recovery include:
- It is not really possible to enjoy life without alcohol or drugs.
- Recovery means a life of being deprived of the one thing the individual really wants.
- It is normal to relapse.
- There is only one way to stay sober.
- All that is needed to recover from an addiction is to stop drinking or using
- People who go to a 12 Step Group are deluded
- People who don’t go to a 12 Step Group are deluded and sure to relapse
- If people are having a hard time in recovery it always means that they are not working the steps properly
- It will be possible to drink again safely after a certain amount of time in recovery
- The idea, if I relapse it will be the fault of other people.
- Doctors and other medical professionals are not to be trusted
- Those working in the addiction recovery profession are not to be trusted
Strong Opinions and Closed Mindedness
One of the main problems with strong opinions is that they can lead to closed mindedness. The individual can cling onto these beliefs as if they were gold nuggets and refuse to consider anything that counters their opinions. This is dangerous because addicts tend to pick up a great many ideas that are not only illogical, but also dangerous. If they insist on holding onto these opinions in sobriety it can lead to all sorts of problems. The best approach for people who hope to find success in recovery is to be humble and approach the world with a beginner’s mind. It is also extremely helpful to develop the ability to think critically. This encourages the individual to examine their own opinions for any fuzzy thinking of false assumptions.
Opinions and Cognitive Dissonance
Some people will form strong opinions because of cognitive dissonance. This occurs when people hold conflicting thoughts and ideas. The individual can react to the dissonance in their mind by forming new opinions. A good example of this is reverse snobbery. If people want something that they cannot have they might resolve this conflict by forming opinions about why they don’t want it. So if a people are poor they might console themselves with the opinion that the rich are never happy.
The Dangers of Strong Opinions in Recovery
Strong opinions can be dangerous for people recovering from an addiction because:
- If people act on faulty opinions it will cause problems in their life.
- It is difficult for those who are strongly opinionated to make any real friends.
- It will prevent the individual from making use of options that could greatly benefit them.
- It often leads to closed-mindedness.
- Those who are intransient with their opinions will often find themselves in conflict with other people.
- Faulty opinions can lead to a great deal of negativity and mental suffering.
- It can drive people to make poor life choices.
- It can stop people from building a successful recovery and instead they become a dry drunk.
How to Avoid the Dangers of Strong Opinions
The individual can avoid the dangers of strong opinions by:
- Being humble enough to consider the possibility that they might be in the wrong and other people might be right.
- Keeping a beginner’s mind.
- Learning to think critically.
- Developing an interest in what other people think.
- Having the willingness to abandon opinions if compelling contradictory evidence arises.
- By not allowing their self-worth to become determined by the sanctity of their opinions.
- Never rushing to judgment about other people
- It is not necessary to hold a strong position on every issue. It is better to keep a don’t know attitude if information is lacking or the issue isn’t clear.
Hope Trust: a place to review, unlearn and relearn
At Hope Trust, counsellors are forever challenging the presently held opinions and belief systems of clients so that they can get open-minded to newer and healthier ways of thinking and evolve more flexible belief systems. This is an integral part of the therapy process so that persons become less rigid in his opinions and more teachable.