What does cognitive dissonance mean and what does it have to do with substance abuse and the development of an addiction? It turns out: a lot. Understanding this may be another piece of the puzzle as we learn more and more and how best to aid those with such problems.
What Does Cognitive Dissonance Have to Do with Addiction?
“Cognitive dissonance results from a tension between a desire and a belief.” If, for example, you want to have a drink but know it will only lead to future issues, then you may experience an uncomfortable feeling or great anxiety. To maintain “a positive self-image,” we have to find ways within ourselves to work around this feeling, and the results aren’t usually productive or positive. In the earlier example, you may say “it’s just one drink” and allow yourself to indulge “guilt-free” (at first).
It’s said that the experience of cognitive dissonance is also a way in which you detect hypocritical behavior or thoughts within yourself. This awareness is unpleasant, to say the least, which is why people strive to reduce or eliminate it. Unfortunately, they often make choices that lead to unhealthy behaviors which then will bring about more feelings of anxiety later on when the cycle begins again. “In general, we will choose the path of least resistance,” which is why it’s so much easier for people to indulge, to choose that questionable route, rather than to work around it with more effort.
Unfortunately, when there is tension between beliefs and desires, the former is what is adjusted and not the latter. Harmful and unhealthy behaviors are opted for over working toward sobriety and recovery because it is easier to “give in” and have a drink than it is to abstain. Naturally, cognitive dissonance makes it even more difficult to ignore cravings and to withstand triggering situations which is why learning how to deal with this situation in a healthy way is so crucial to someone who desires a substance-free life.
Where cognitive dissonance is an issue within the development of an addiction, CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, can be a solution. Since the former generates false reasoning and continues cycles of unhealthy, but “justified” behaviors, the latter is well-equipped to combat it. CBT helps to refocus the mind and to use willpower and reasoning to work through such situations. Instead of allowing oneself to “go with the flow” of indulgent reasoning, the user would ask the hard questions, learn to face the facts of a situation so that the truth can’t be ignored. “In the face of temptation, we need to dispute rationally our distorted reasoning and the judgments that follow.”
More than just those who are dealing with substance abuse are tempted by and give into impulses. It’s a concept that everyone can understand, but the stigma of those struggling with drugs and alcohol divides them from the rest of the population. As always, there needs to be a change on a large scale of how we as a nation think of those in need of recovery from substances. Many may be willing to work through CBT to help change their behavior, but the support of community can make all the difference in such a difficult time.
Become a part of the solution by educating yourself about how to aid those in recovery. If you are struggling with the development of an addiction and have experienced this kind of cognitive dissonance, then get in touch with The Bergand Group. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center and offers support for those struggling with addiction and mental health issues, including medication management strategies. We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.
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About The Bergand Group:
At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]