It is normal for most people to feel some hesitance and fear when going into early recovery. In fact, people experience fear throughout different stages of their recovery even after being sober for a significant amount of time. People often leave rehab full of worry, wondering what will happen when they are living alone trying to maintain their new lifestyle. Fear can be helpful in some ways because it keeps us alert and aware, motivating people to be careful about relapse. In some cases though, too much fear can be paralyzing and actually lead to relapse because emotions get out of control. Recognizing common fears in recovery and learning how to face them can help you feel more prepared to handle and get through all the different phases of quitting an addiction.
Fear of Being Sober
For people who are just beginning to make the decision to change their lifestyle, their earliest and most significant fear is what will happen when they no longer have drugs or alcohol available to them in times of difficulty. Sobriety itself can seem scary when you have been self-medicating for years and have come to rely on substances to regulate your emotions. It is important for people in early recovery to acknowledge and talk about their fears of sobriety but to continue taking steps forward anyway. Once they get to rehab and begin working with a therapist they usually find that sobriety is not as frightening as they thought.
Fear of Failure
Recovery is challenging in both the early phases and later steps because it is often taking you out of your comfort zone. People in recovery may want to be perfect and achieve all their goals, making them terrified of failing in any way. Self-doubt and fear of failure are very common especially for those who want to do their best in recovery. The way to handle this fear is to accept the fact that you are going to make mistakes and fall sometimes but it doesn’t mean that you have failed. Even experiencing a relapse does not have to be a failure as long as you go back to rehab and start focusing on recovery again.
Fear of Rejection
Addicts may fear the stigma of their problem and after years of hiding their behavior, it can be hard to open up and be vulnerable with others. They may be afraid that opening up and revealing their inner feelings could lead to being judged or abandoned by the people they love. It is important to overcome this fear of rejection by pushing yourself to participate in group meetings and attending sober gatherings so that you can realize that you won’t be judged or abandoned by others.
Fear of Losing Yourself
When a person has an addiction many of their thoughts and actions revolve around obtaining and using substances. Once they are sober they might have fears that they don’t know who they are without drugs or they have lost their identity. They may understand little about themselves outside of their own substance abuse. Recovery, however, is a chance to redefine yourself and discover who you were before addiction started to take over your life. You can also start to explore new hobbies and interests to help figure out your new identity.
Fear of Depression
After using substances to improve their emotional state for years, addicts may worry that without addiction they will be perpetually miserable. They may struggle with finding joy in sobriety and still have many angry or sad feelings to work through in recovery. To face this fear, people in recovery need to stay committed to sobriety and over time their emotional pain will ease the more they work with their counselors and support groups. By being invested in a recovery program and getting the most out of their work, addicts can avoid depression and negative emotions.