The Irrational Mind of an Addict

do addicts think irrationally

If you were to walk up to somebody random on the sidewalk and mention to them that you like to pound down alcohol to the point of oblivion and black out, I’m certain they would look at you as if you were nuts. The thing with the chemically dependent is that addicts and alcoholics don’t think in the same manner or style as that of a “normal person.” No, that doesn’t make them “special” or mean they have to be treated any differently because of a specific ailment. What it does mean is that most people don’t see eye to eye with an addict or alcoholic and what makes them partake in the behaviors they regularly exhibit. The mind of an addict is that of a strong one but also fragile in different ways than that of a normie.

Think about the actions of we, the addicted, and it doesn’t come to much surprise that we often look kind of demented. From an outside perspective, my father would see me living in misery. This perfectly healthy child of his- using drugs and alcohol to the point where they were destroying every aspect of life, but yet I continuously chose said path and made no effort to climb out of the hole I’d dug. Even as the various narcotics pulled this mind of an addict in the direction of being 6 feet under, repeatedly allowed me to hurt loved ones, and constantly left me in a state of despair, these were all irrational reasons to stop using illicit substances. Death wasn’t even a good enough option to change the addictive mindset.

Why Are We Irrational?

Why is our mindset different from other people’s? You may be asking yourself, “Why would dying be worth it just to take another hit?” Addicts themselves sometimes do not understand why. It just is for them. However, there is a verifiable and scientific reason to explain the irrational mind of an addict. It has to do with a two things: the brain and disease.

Addiction is a disease. You may not know this, but diseases can actually be caused by our actions. We are hardwired to find new things to bring us pleasure. Thus, when we experience something that brings the brain pleasure, we want more of that thing. It is simple natural selection. Good things usually make us live longer, thus to live longer we intake things that feel good. However, the way drugs and alcohol work is that they make us feel good but are not necessarily good for us. The brain does not understand that. To it, substances are just something else that makes us feel good. Thus, even if we know binge drinking until we throw up or pass out will make us feel terrible, we cannot control ourselves because our brain thinks more equals good.

There is another reason. The brain is changed after building up a dependency to the substances. The motivation, reward, and memory centers of the brain literally change. For this reason, we may not feel normal unless we have that substance. It is almost like the substance makes our minds incomplete without it. Think of it as brain control. For this reason, people should not always write off addicts as simply choosing the hole they fell into. Not all of these “decisions” are black and white choices. There are lots of variables, controllable and uncontrollable, that go into it.

Not Completely Cuckoo

At some point or another, we all take a step back and analyze our motives in some form or another. Sitting back and reflecting on some of our more questionable decisions made or acting on something we have committed to internally, we tell ourselves that whatever the poison chosen- our actions decided upon are okay to follow through with. We- and when I say we, yes I do mean you and I. WE are all human beings that make ghastly mistakes on a regular basis. We deal with the aftermath of a situation accordingly but most of our questionable choices are downsized in our heads. C’mon, we are all guilty in a position at some point where we minimalize our dealings from time to time.  What matters though is being self-aware and being able to recognize why it is we do the things that we do. One of the biggest things in this life that is a gift and a curse is the power of choice. Everything we do is a product of some form of resolution, minus involuntary actions like breathing. So when internal conflict arises inside, we pick a side. Yet so many outside social factors affect our direction we head in. It is generally safe to say that most people do not like negativity. Most struggle to admit when they are wrong and don’t like to accept responsibility with downbeat connotations attached. People often get most offended about the things they believe they know best.

how is your mindset

The reality of it is that, in a very cynical perspective, mistakes are required and were not meant to know everything. Life is but a collection of mistakes and learning and budding from them hopefully.  In the meantime, we continually do things we are not always proud of and have to second guess from time to time. Don’t beat yourself up, though; it’s all necessary in some form or another for mental growth. However, trying to find a balance is the key to such stages of wisdom. When your different sided beliefs clash, it can be uncomfortable. Therefore, our minds tell us to side one way or another to relieve this. Playing mind games and convincing ourselves of a particular reality that is often exaggerated, distorted, or ignored. We want to believe what we want to believe but must keep in mind that OUR voice is not THE voice. Often times, the mind of an addict allows the irrational thought process to step in and convince our memory that things were different. Human beings are tricky beings and will sometimes allow emotional thought processes to dictate the way we think something happened. This is especially true for addicts and alcoholics that lived in a state of numbness for years. When we were hibernating in that state of zombified ecstasy, we were numbing away and shutting down all of the emotions our bodies were trying to experience.  Whether we like it or not, we are adaptive creatures that rule with these emotions. Emotion is tricky because not only does it rule over our gray matter in the attic, but emotion is a thought process that can be felt physically. It is important when boiling down to big decisions that we keep our personal belief system and emotions separate to the best of our ability.  All it takes is one good mood swing and all our certainties and principles go right down the drain. Hold onto those morals, and if that’s too tough- find somebody to help hold you accountable.

In the end, when it comes to the irrational mind of an addict, it’s of sound advice to get to know yourself. Logic and rational thought processes tend to go together sometimes. The thing is that not everybody follows the same logic and if we spend all of our time trying to act in accordance with somebody else’s logic, then that in itself is irrational. The trick for we, the chemically inflicted, is to remain open to others and self. It is through the power of learning that any of us really decipher which of our actions are justifiable or not.  

Getting help is so important for the addicted. But how? We need our loved ones to give us the logic that we just do not have. Since we tend to be irrational, and addiction changes the brain so that is does not function normally, we have to accept that our thinking is not always rational. For this reason, our loved ones should come around us and set us straight. Or if you know someone who is addicted, the most loving thing you can do is to plan an intervention to get them the treatment they need. An intervention can be one of the most important weapons in our arsenal against addiction. If done right, it can have great results, but if done wrong, it could do just the opposite.

Along with this, consider seeking family therapy. This will help build understanding of addiction within the family as a whole. It will also help keep us, the addict, honest and accountable. It will help to facilitate honest and open dialogue. Although it may seem awkward or even unnecessary, it is important since addiction is a chronic disease, meaning it can always come back. Having a team that joins around you in therapy can help keep you on track, and treating the whole family is an important part of that process (since we know addiction affects everyone around us as well).

Help = Rational Thought Process

You may be thinking to yourself that it’s not worth the effort, but don’t be fooled. Making it through the detoxification process is one of the most rational things you can do. All the drugs will end up bringing is certified misery and torture to your mind, body, and soul. If you or a loved one has been struggling to make the next step, call 1-866-802-6848 or visit We have trained specialists on standby ready to help you start detoxing as comfortably as possible and send your life in a direction you can proudly stand behind.  

Content Reviewed by Jacklyn Steward

Jacklyn StewardJacklyn is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) and an EMDR trained trauma therapy specialist with over 6 years of experience in the field of addiction. She has a Masters Degree in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Counseling from Nova Southeastern University.