Cognitive Distortions
Family Roles
Relapse Prevention

This is when we blow things out of proportion.  When we assumes that the worst will happen. Often, it involves believing that you're in a worse situation than you really are or exaggerating the difficulties you face. 

What is catastrophizing?


Internal Experience: My feel frustrated, rejected, and unlovable

External Behavior: Getting into arguments and acting out as a way to get some attention.

What is the Scapegoat?


This is the area of the brain associated with cognitive functions including implementing new coping skills.

What is the prefrontal cortex?


These are three coping skills.

What are: meditation, asking for help, distraction/ diversion (cleaning, cooking, hobbies, reading), play the tape through, grounding, mindfulness, 12 step groups, therapy, etc.


Unconscious psychological devices that people use to protect themselves from the aspects of reality that they do not wish to face.

What are defense mechanisms?


Characterized by thoughts such as, "If I am not perfect, I have failed". or "Either I get it right or not at all".

What is Black and White or All or Nothing Thinking? (also called Polarized Thinking)


Internal Experience: May feel pressure, anxiety, and feel overwhelmed.

External behavior: Uses humor to distract from the family's core issues. 

What is the mascot/family clown?


This is one of the two hormones associated with stress.

What is adrenaline or cortisol? 


A strong desire to obtain, ingest or experience the positive effect of drugs or alcohol.  These are normal and an expected part of recovery.  They lessen in frequency and intensity as recovery time increases.

What are cravings?


Insisting that a given face can't be true, in spite of evidence to the contrary. 

What is denial?


This is assuming that because we feel a certain way it must be true.  Ex. "I feel stupid and boring then I must be stupid and boring".

What is emotional reasoning?


Internal Experience: May feel overwhelmed, on edge, and anxious.

External Behavior: Absorbing and attempting to resolve other's issues. 

What is the caretaker/enabler?


The part of the brain where addiction lives.

What is the Amygdala? 


Social, environmental or emotional situations that remind people in recovery of their past drug or alcohol use. These cues bring about urges (cravings) that may lead to a relapse.

What is a Trigger?


Individuals blame their reactions and decisions on other people, places and things.

What is externalization?


This is when we assume we know what others are thinking.  Usually it is negative things about us.

What is mindreading?


Internal experience: May feel unlovable and rejected by the family.

External behavior: Uses substances as a means to cope and distract from the family's core issues. 

What is the addict/alcoholic?


 This is the destructive and intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.  A false belief that something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.

What is shame?


This coping skill is used to get through a trigger and involves telling yourself- “If I use, this will happen, then this will happen, then this will happen...".

What is playing the tape through?


Individuals resist doing what is required for recovery. They claim to have forgotten or say they don’t understand the directions to avoid doing things directed at change. Procrastination is one earmark of this defense. The real message is that this person doesn’t believe there is a problem that requires their attention. They do the bare minimum to avoid getting in trouble.

What is passive negativity?


Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc.

What is personalization?


Internal Experience: May feel overwhelmed, anxious, and pressured.

External Behavior: May be a perfectionist, incredibly responsible, and an over-achiever.

What is the Hero/Golden Child?


Trying to protect others from the natural consequences of their actions.

What is enabling?


This is characterized by psychological and mood symptoms including poor impulse control, increased cravings, inability to experience pleasure and low distress tolerance.  It is important to remember this is temporary to avoid relapse.

What is PAWS or Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome?


Individuals go to extreme lengths to apologize or make amends. The real problem is that they have no intention of making changes. They may cut down or abstain for varying lengths of time, always to return to the same old thing as soon as the crisis passes.

What is undoing?


You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone were keeping score. you feel bitter when the reward doesn't come.

What is Heaven's Reward Fallacy?


Internal experience: May feel rejected, neglected, and experience depression. 

External behavior: Blends in, won't make a scene.

What is the Lost Child?


Stubborn or willful adherence to one's own desires or ideas.

What is self-will?


A plan created for a specific high-risk situation to increase the chances of staying in recovery. For example: A plan to enjoy a concert while in early recovery.

What is a sobriety plan?


Individuals make problems or incidents seem less important than they really are. By doing this the individual can protect themselves from others’ concerns. Confrontations are viewed as overreactions.

What is minimizing?