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Common Fears in Addiction

Common Fears in Addiction

Addiction recovery is a long road. During recovery, it’s common for people to experience a range of emotions, especially fear. Nearly everyone who enters rehab feels some level of fear or trepidation. The questions they have are many:

  • Will this work?
  • Will I be able to open up and talk about what’s happening?
  • Do I really need this?
  • Will withdrawal be too intense?

And, after the final day of treatment, many struggle with an even larger question: Will I be able to stay sober?

Common Fears in Addiction

If fear is holding you back from seeking addiction treatment, it can be helpful to assess your feelings and try to pinpoint the source of your fear. Once you are able to specify and name your fear, you can address it. Consider a few examples of what may be holding you back.

A Fear of Being Sober

Self-medicating with substances, as the U.S. Health & Human Services division notes, is a common way for people to treat their mental health symptoms. Why do people do this?

For some, being sober means dealing with painful memories, powerful emotions, and incredibly stressful thought patterns. While some people fear the physical pain of getting sober, others are more concerned about having to face emotions they’ve long avoided. Without drugs and alcohol, it may seem hard to manage symptoms of stress, depression, anxiety, or past trauma.

A Fear of Failing

Sobriety isn’t simple. Once a person breaks their addiction, they’re faced with the fear that they could slip up at any time. Staying sober is the challenge of a lifetime. It feels especially challenging in the beginning (the first year or so), but even five or ten years down the road, cravings and triggers may still arise. 

Some people fear they will fail at the process and have to start all over. They may feel like a failure already for becoming addicted, so why risk feeling even worse when they fail at sobriety? 

A Fear of Facing Their Past

Another common fear is the fear of facing rejection from family or friends. Addiction damages relationships. Some people may be afraid of getting sober and having to deal with these relationship troubles and or with their overwhelming guilt over bad decisions. They may fear that they are unable to have a healthy relationship, so why try?  Yet, recognizing that a fear of rejection is something to overcome and not run from can be empowering. Becoming sober can ultimately lead to freedom from guilt. It can lead to self-acceptance, to forgiveness, and to healthy relationships.   

A Fear of Success

Success can be almost as scary as failing for some people. That’s why some people recovering from addiction may self-sabotage their success. There are many potential reasons for this:

  • They don’t feel they deserve to be happy.
  • They are unable to imagine a better future for themselves. 
  • They worry that no one will pay attention to their needs if they are sober.
  • They feel like they are not strong enough to follow through. 

A fear of success can be hard for many on the outside of addiction to understand. Therapy and support groups can help individuals in recovery work through self-doubt and pain.

A Fear of Always Being Depressed

Some people may fear that getting sober will result in being perpetually unhappy. They can see only the negative possibilities: boredom, failure, physical or emotional pain, etc. Because addiction damages the pleasure center of the brain, it takes time for the brain to recover its ability to feel pleasure in daily life. 

Also, many people who are addicted may have an undiagnosed co-occurring mental health disorder, like depression or anxiety. Addiction treatment will address the co-occurring disorder and help the person find ways to treat the depression or anxiety without substances.

Finding the Right Way Forward

A fear of any type is just a thought that is out of control. It is not the reality of your situation. Recognize your fear for what it is and reach out for help with your drug or alcohol addiction. At The Farley Center, we can help you find a path forward. 

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