How do we define ‘the mental obsession’ or ‘obsession of the mind’ which is something often heard during recovery meetings?
For me the simplest way to describe this is a defective or warped thinking we have as part of addiction. It’s a way of thinking that’s ruled the way I thought and acted before I started to embrace my recovery.
In short it’s the warped sense of thinking that proceeds or leads to us drinking, using drugs, food, gambling, sex or whatever our compulsive behaviours might be.
My mental obsession often took a few forms, the first of which was often more subtle, thoughts popping up convincing us that we can drink or use safely today, that this time will be different, that we have everything under control today. It’s the thinking and part of the brain that tries to hide our past from us, tries to keep us living in fantasy rather than the horrible reality of our situation and ultimately disconnected from ourselves the people and the world around us.
At times it was definitely more pronounced, more aggressive. I could feel it as an overriding train of thought that started to dominate my thinking, I’d be constantly thinking about the next drink or drug, when I could get some, where my next one was coming from and how long I could keep going.
Regardless of how the obsession would take hold, it would nearly always end badly. For me the mental obsession was ultimately dangerous as it puts my using before everything else, it would mean I would cast rationale thought and behaviour aside and created situations and consequences which got progressively worse. The Big Book has two examples in the chapter ‘More about Alcoholism’, the first a guy who thinks maybe he can get away with putting whiskey in milk and the second, someone who convinces himself a cocktail with dinner might just be ok. Both end terribly and are perfect examples of how the mental obsession might take hold.
After some time in the programme however I’ve learned that there’s a way to escape this, If I keep going to meetings, keep working a strong programme of recovery, keep working with and helping others, the obsession is kept at bay and I can be free to live a happier and more useful life, a life where I can be free today thanks to my programme of recovery…