There’s nothing easy about completely re-routing your life path, going to drug rehab, and getting sober. Even if you aren’t willing to admit that you’re afraid of going to rehab – there’s at least a big part of you that feels uncomfortable even thinking about it. Even if you know that drinking or using drugs is killing you and causing pain to the people you love – it’s the life you know. Even if you know the way you’re living – isn’t working. If you’re not addicted to drugs or alcohol, this type of thinking probably doesn’t make any sense. After all, why would anyone continue to do something that causes harm to them and their family? Why would anyone continue to engage in a repetitive behavior that will eventually cause them to lose everything – including their life? If you are struggling with addiction, you know the answers to these questions – and they all revolve around these four points.
- The Fear Of Loneliness. In active addiction, it’s likely that you’ve met plenty of people who use the same drug of choice as you, who drinking with you, and who party with you. You know whose number to dial when you need more pills or who to call to pick up another bottle of vodka. In early recovery, we’re often told to let go of our old “friends” – our using buddies, or former acquaintances that you hung out with in bars, partying, or doing drugs. In early recovery, we’re told to cut ties with the people who understood our needs for the drink or the drug. And most importantly, we’re told to give up on our very best friend: our drug of choice. Letting go of the friends who urge you to keep drinking and drugging is essential for your recovery – but it’s also upsetting. After all, getting sober is difficult enough – and not having your friends around can add to the sting. Overcoming the Fear: Going to 12-step meetings or self-help groups probably doesn’t sound like something you’d like to put on your “to-do” list. But, addiction affects people from all walks of life: old, young, married, divorced, every race and religion, every profession, every education level. You may be surprised at the welcome and support you receive at meetings and the opportunity you have to connect and truly gain new friends. The support of these individuals can be an important lifeline in your recovery.
- The Fear Of Not Having What It Takes. Looking ahead at your life, the thought of staying sober forever is probably overwhelming. Never having a beer again – or never taking a pill again can seem impossible. After all, a drink or a hit may be the only way you’ve ever coped with a bad day, a stressful situation, a death in the family or even just to enjoy a Saturday night watching football. There may be a creeping thought in the back of your mind that staying sober for life just isn’t for you – that you can’t do a life long recovery. Maybe it’s for some people, but you don’t fit the bill for a person that can never drink again. Overcoming the Fear: There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Or, as one of my colleges often says, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Moving a mountain or eating an elephant seem like impossible tasks, just like coming out of active addiction and looking at the task ahead as an entire life of sobriety can be overwhelming. Finding the “small bites” or “small stones” is equivalent to taking your sobriety one day – or even hour – at a time. You just have to stay sober right now; stay sober today and you add a tally to the books. The small accomplishments add up and can make the journey less intimidating.
- The Fear That It Won’t Work. In active addiction, we don’t have to handle problems or issues – we just need a drink or a chemical to cope. But in rehab and therapy we’re asked to trust recovery coaches and therapists to teach us a new way to live. We’re asked not to be angry. We’re asked to work on things we never wanted to think or talk about again. We’re asked to be vulnerable. So what happens if we let our walls down… and it doesn’t work? If these this new life doesn’t work out, or the skills don’t keep you sober, or you let everyone down? These people don’t know all you’ve been through and may not be able to actually help you get sober. What if rehab doesn’t work? Overcoming the Fear: Everyone who is in recovery now, once felt like you. You are capable and worthy of success – and no matter what you have been through, there are better things ahead. You can be a successful, productive member of society, a good spouse or parent, and a happy, healthy person. Treatment can and does work if you are willing to put in the work.
- The Fear That It Will Work. The fear of failure is understandable – but the fear of success is something we don’t always talk about. You may feel like you don’t deserve to succeed – that you’ve messed up too many times, hurt too many people, or have been using or drinking far too long. When we feel that we don’t deserve to succeed, we don’t put forth our full effort, and ultimately end up in a cycle of self-sabotage. Self-sabotage harkens us back to what we did in active addiction. With success also comes great responsibility – something you may not have held onto in active addiction. The fear of responsibility and accountability can be daunting. Overcoming the Fear: No matter your past doings, behaviors, relationships or failures – they are in the past. In putting in the effort, you deserve to move past those things and create a better present and future. Not only do you deserve to succeed, but you also deserve to be happy about your success. Take pride in your results that bloom from your hard work and focus.
Many of these fears plague those in active addiction and early recovery. However, you have the ability to do something about them and overcome the fear. Don’t be afraid to reach out and change your life for the better – you never know how amazing it can be.