3 Types of Biases Involved in Addiction

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When you are battling addiction, your brain will work at any angle to keep you in the cycle of using. Even if you feel shame every time you drink or use drugs and don’t feel the same high like you used to, you still feel stuck in your need to continually use. Part of what may not be allowing you to stop using can be attributed to the different types of cognitive biases happening in your brain.

If you aren’t versed in what a cognitive bias is, it is our way of distorting our intake of information to match what we already believe. There are three main types of cognitive biases in play with addiction that we will explore below to understand why you think the way you do in addiction.

#1: Attentional Bias to Support Behaviors

Attentional bias affects your mind by clinging onto anything that supports the desired behavior, even if it’s harmful or dysfunctional. In attentional bias related to addiction, your brain directs your attention to your drug use, and you focus more on your triggers and what makes you want to use. By diverting your focus to anything encouraging you to use, you simultaneously ignore what is in front of you telling you to stop using, like concerned loved ones.

#2: Optimism Bias Meets Reality

In optimism bias, you grasp on to the unrealistic belief that everything will be okay in the future, and you’ll be able to get your drinking or using under control without it becoming a problem. Thinking that this time quitting will be different, even though you’ve failed to quit every time so far, is a common belief to prolong addiction. With the optimism bias, you find yourself always pushing the responsibility of quitting into the future and believing that you will recover all on your own when you decide to stop your drug use in the future.

#3: Coloring Your Memories with Recall Bias

With the recall bias, you recall the feelings or events as you want to believe them. In recovery, you selectively remember your times using or drinking as fun or liberating and choose not to remember all the bad times, too. When you experience the recall bias, you associate your substance use days as the good times and leave out the details of hurting others or the ugly sides of yourself that would come out when you used.

Cognitive biases like attentional bias, optimism bias, and recall bias hold you back from thinking realistically about your addiction. Growing your awareness of the cognitive biases that perpetuate your addiction can help you correct your thinking and get you one step closer to sobriety. At Avalon Malibu, we specialize in tailoring individual treatment programs to give our clients safe, supported recovery treatment. With our team of professionals, we will find the right blend of holistic and clinical treatment to help you overcome your addiction obstacles and restore your mind, body, and spirit. Call us at (844) 857-5992 if you are finally ready to say “Yes!” to recovery.

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