What Is an Alcoholic Mindset?

alcoholic mind

People with alcohol use disorder tend toward irrational thinking even when sober: repeatedly insisting, “I’ve got it under control” in the face of all evidence, finding any excuse for why nothing is really their fault. Even trained therapists struggle to get through to people who stubbornly believe that “only having everything my own way can solve my problems”—a major symptom of an alcoholic mind.

Alcoholism and the Brain 

Someone who has developed alcohol use disorder is already at a mental disadvantage. First, many people with alcoholism also have anxiety disorder, clinical depression, or another mental illness. Second, excessive alcohol consumption is itself damaging to the brain, further impairing ability to think effectively whether actually drunk or not.

And as with any habit, good or bad, repeated drinking will condition the brain to regard that behavior as “normal” and to trigger discomfort when attempts are made to alter it—ingraining the alcoholic mind still deeper.

Characteristics of an Alcoholic Mind

Blame Shifting

Most people tend to combine even apologies with “it wasn’t all my fault” excuses, but the alcoholic mindset can look at the worst of messes and claim, “it wasn’t my fault at all.” Someone or something else invariably “drove them to it.”

Denial and Procrastination

It’s rare to find someone being treated for alcohol use disorder who didn’t first accumulate a record of responding to concerns with, “Nothing’s really wrong.” If the alcoholic mind can’t brush off concerns completely, it passes the buck to “later”: “I’ll get it right next time; I’ll stop drinking after one more happy hour.”

Perfectionism and Entitlement

The alcoholic mind includes low self-esteem and constant striving to prove oneself. Perfectionistic expectations usually comprise the rest of the world as well, plus expectations that the world will instantly recognize and reward every effort.


When the rest of the world doesn’t “cooperate” with unrealistic expectations, the alcoholic mindset gets bitter and blames the world for being unreasonable. Preferred method of self-comfort: relaxing with a few drinks.


Alcohol abuse is frequently associated with domestic violence. When the alcoholic’s bad attitude combines with the inhibition-removing effects of alcohol, any annoyance becomes an excuse for venting rage on the nearest target. 

Manipulative Behavior

The alcoholic mind doesn’t always punish others by direct attack: it’s also a master of guilt trips and of convincing others to “enable” (help cover up and minimize the effects of) addiction. By the time someone is diagnosed with alcohol use disorder, everyone in the household is usually infected with some form of toxic mindset.

Being Unable to Envision Life Without Alcohol

Even when someone genuinely wants to quit drinking, the alcoholic mind whispers that that would mean a future devoid of fun, relaxation, or comfort. By the time an alcoholic mindset takes hold, drinking has become the center of life and identity, and it’s nearly impossible to picture anything different.

Overcoming the Alcoholic Mind

Lasting recovery from alcoholism is only possible when the alcoholic mind is replaced with a healthier one—and that can happen only after someone is personally committed to the change. Even then, it’s a long hard road that requires medically supervised detox, intensive therapy, and a long-term support network.

Besides professional help, the key elements of mindset shifting are:

Accepting Responsibility and Personal Power

The alcoholic mindset says, “I’m at the mercy of circumstances and others’ whims.” The healthy mindset says, “I can’t control everything or have everything the way I want, but I can and will choose my own attitudes and actions, and that will make a difference.”

Present-Moment Mindfulness

Don’t stress yourself out by dwelling on what “never should have happened” or what “will probably go wrong.” You only have the present moment to work with, so give it your full attention.

Logical Response to One’s Own Thoughts

The alcoholic mindset feels constantly put upon: every honking horn triggers the reaction, “Everyone’s always criticizing me.” The healthy mindset nips such thoughts in the bud by questioning them rationally: “Can I be sure it was me they were honking at? And even if it was, why should I let a stranger’s impatience ruin my day?”

Activities Suited to Individual Skills and Passions

Overcoming an alcoholic mind requires more than giving up drinking: if the drinking isn’t replaced with healthy and wholesome activities, it leaves a vacuum that alcohol (or some other toxic habit) will come back to fill. By far the most effective substitute is something consistent with the person one was really made to be. When doing what you naturally love becomes part of everyday life, alcohol loses much of its appeal and a healthy mindset thrives.

Help for Alcoholism in Hemet, California

An alcoholic mindset is treatable. At HVRC, we offer programs to detox the body and teach the brain new, healthier thinking habits. You can learn to live a happy, alcohol-free life.

Don’t waste another day staying enslaved to an alcoholic mind. Contact us to learn more about our hospital-based chemical dependency treatment services.