Dealing With Fear in Recovery

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Fear in Recovery

Change can often be a scary thing. Recovery from addiction is a radical change from the life you knew, and so brings many fears along with it. With sobriety, life will continue to have the same ups and downs, but you will no longer have the ability to escape.

Even if you realize that substance abuse is ruining your life, you may feel paralyzed by the fear of embarking on an unknown path so different from your current circumstances. Full, emotional sobriety demands that you take control over your fear, and don’t let it hold you back.

A truly courageous person is not someone without fear, but someone able to feel fear, but still move forward doing what’s right for them. Here are some ways to take charge of your fear, and not feel held back as you work on recovery.


When you feel fear, don’t react to it without first thinking through. What is your current environment that may be causing your fear to rise? What thoughts are going on in your head when you feel afraid? Sometimes you may think you are afraid of a surface issue, like being embarrassed in public, but deeper self-reflection points towards a deeper root cause, like a low-self image or a sense of insecurity.

Feeling afraid that you will never have fun if you give up your substance abuse lifestyle might be connected to a deeper fear that you won’t be capable of the change. Understanding the root causes of your fear is an important first step in figuring out what you can do to lighten the fear so it no longer keeps you from moving towards that which is scary but also life-giving.

Journaling can be a really helpful tool in helping your sort through the root causes of your fear. You can also use mindfulness, trying to objectively allow the fear to sit with you without judgment, to gain some control and awareness of the fear within. If you have a root fear that is speaking disempowering lies, “speak back” with a clear declaration of your worth and ability.


There are a variety of ways people reduce stress, getting their worries down to a level that no longer holds them back. Progressive relaxation means going through your entire body, breathing deeply as you think about relaxing each muscle group, from your fingers to your toes. Light yoga, stretching in tandem with a deep breath is very effective at relaxing you.

Exercise of any kind can be very effective at working through your nervousness and creating endorphins that bring on feelings of calm. Music and anything that makes you laugh can help take your mind off the source of your fear, and help you distract your way into seeing things from a more balanced perspective.

If you ever feel any fear rising up, you can create a sense of calm by meditatively breathing deeply. Aim for a state of mental silence, while you focus on drawing breaths as deep as possible.

In this way, you can relieve stressful fear, getting it down to manageable levels. Then, simply practice working through your fear. Feel the fear and do it anyway. This way, over time, you will discover you have nothing to feel afraid of.

Get help

One frequent saying you may hear in recovery is “a problem shared is a problem halved.” This is especially true with regard to the fears that come with trying to get rid of an addiction. You will not be the only person dealing with fear, and so talking about them with others may help you find different ways of working through them.

A therapist can be especially valuable in helping you sort through the root causes of your fear and face them. However, simply sharing with anyone, including within a support group or with a friend can be very helpful. The process of talking through your fears, and having them be listened to by someone who cares will help you feel more capable of dealing with whatever fears or anxiety arise.