Forward thinking without irrationality is a skill that is worked hard for in treatment and recovery. Brain imaging studies have found that more than the often discussed reward system of the brain is affected by addiction. Areas of the brain which regulate rationality and irrationality, morality and immorality, good judgment and poor judgment, are compromised. In addition, there is also the memory-learning system the brain experiences after repetitively giving into impulsive needs based on immediate circumstances; for example, I am craving drugs and alcohol, I need drugs and alcohol now.

“One interesting way to try and inject some rationality is to think from an outsider’s perspective,” behavioral psychologist Dan Ariely explains for Big Think. “When you think about your own life you’re trapped within your own perspective, you’re trapped within your own emotions and feelings and so on.” He explains the phenomenal irony that, despite our inability to rationally think about our own problems, we are capable of thinking rationally about other people’s problems. Without our own attachments, thoughts, and feelings, we can look at a problem more objectively and create logical solutions. As a result, Ariely explains, “you can give advice that is more forward looking instead of so specific to the emotions.”

The prospect of going to a residential treatment program to develop a lifestyle of recovery through sobriety is often met with immediate arguments about not being able to drink, use, or participate in some other kind of behavior. Logically, to anyone on the outside, a drug addiction must be stopped and residential treatment is the safest answer to create necessary lifestyle changes. Consumed by addiction and an impaired ability to make rational decisions, an active addict initially has difficulty recognizing that truth. It takes a new perspective, one from the outside, to do the convincing.

“You look at a situation and you say to yourself, ‘If this was about somebody else, somebody I love and care about, and they were in this situation, what would I advise them?’” Ariely describes, “You will realize your advice would be different and often a more rational, useful, perspective.”


Excellence in addiction treatment is what we do at Cypress Lake Recovery. By healing first the mind, then the body, followed by the spirit, our residential treatment programs help clients find balance, confidence, and restoration. For more information, call us today at 866-217-2636.