Fear. It is an emotion that makes us feel threatened or that we may be harmed. We tend to run from the things that scare us or make us fearful. When in recovery, we have overcome so many obstacles that when we are hit with these new fears, we don’t necessarily understand where they came from and why.
The good news is that these fears in sobriety are normal and they can be overcome. Let’s dig a bit deeper to understand why we may suddenly develop these fears and how we can kick them to the curb.
Where Does Fear of Sobriety Stem From?
That’s a good question – where does this fear come from? Imagine this:
You are living your life. When things happen or you hit rough patches, you turn to your fuzzy green blanket. You snuggle yourself in its warmth and comfort. It makes you feel better. Sometimes you get together with your friends and they bring their blankets, too.
Now, imagine your blanket gets taken from you, but your friends still have theirs. That warm, fuzzy, comforting green blanket has disappeared, leaving you feeling alone and unprotected. You even find it hard to be around your friends because they still have their blankets — so you begin to distance yourself.
Now, imagine that your green blanket is your drug of choice. You used to turn to your drug when you were feeling so many emotions – stressed, angry, frustrated, excited, happy, lonely, etc. The friends that you surrounded yourself with also used some sort of substance.
Since you have entered sobriety, you no longer have your drug to rely on. And, you must learn to find new friends with more positive interests in life.
Your comfort zone is gone and you are finding yourself in new, unknown territory. That is scary. And, that, dear friend, is where your fear comes from.
How Does Fear Affect the Recovery Process?
Recovery is based on change. You must change your habits, your thought processes, your friends, the places you used to frequent, your hobbies, etc. In fact, entering recovery is almost like creating a whole new life! This change can be incredibly scary – it is hard to let go of what we know to enter a world we don’t. However, for you to succeed in recovery, you will need to be able to let go and move on.
If you let fear cripple your progress, you will not be able to grow into your new life. Fear will not allow you to embrace positive change.
Common Fears in Addiction Recovery
While there are many fears one could have, there are several common fears that interrupt the lives of those who have successfully entered recovery and have high hopes of continuing down that path. A few of these common fears are:
- Fear of loneliness. You know you cannot go back to the group of friends you had that contribute to your addiction. Loneliness can seem like a legitimate fear. You will wonder who you will talk to, who you will hang out with, etc. You may even worry if you will be able to or even know how to make new friends.
- Fear of failing. Those who care will be rooting for your recovery. They are proud of how far you have come and they don’t hesitate to tell you this. You are proud of yourself, too. But what if you don’t make it? What if you relapse? How will you then look to all of those that were so proud of you? You may think that you will look like a failure. You may think that you let them down. You will let yourself down.
- Fear of succeeding. This one may sound odd, but it is a common fear. The farther you make it in your recovery, the more your life will be different. Succeeding means change. It also means hard work and responsibility. Perhaps you don’t think you can handle it. Or, maybe you are afraid of your new life. There is pressure in succeeding – from others and from ourselves.
Let Go of Fear, and Let Heal
We can be our own worst enemy. When we allow ourselves to feel this fear, we let it drain our confidence and, sometimes, our feelings of self-worth. And, of course, these are things that you need to be successful in recovery – you need to have confidence, strength, and know that you are worth it.
It is almost guaranteed that you will encounter new fears as you travel through your recovery. The key is to be able to identify them and then learn how to tackle them.
Recovery Tools for Dismantling Your Fears in Sobriety
There are many tools that may help you in overcoming your fears. The important thing is that you must first recognize that it is a fear – and then go into action. Try the following:
- Practicing yoga and meditation. Fears can bring on anxiety which can then lead us to react irrationally. Use meditation or yoga to re-center your focus and relax your thoughts and your body.
- Setting goals. Set goals for yourself. Have a clear picture for where you are going and how you intend to get there. Be aware that there will be speed bumps.
- Living and discovering. Learn to go on adventures, try new things, visit new places. You may discover things that you never knew existed – and something that you truly love! Fill your life!
- Fostering gratitude. Journal your experiences, how you are feeling, etc. And make lists of all the things you are thankful for.
- Freeing yourself and recovering. Know that you are worth it. You are important and deserving of a life free of addiction. You can overcome any obstacle that gets in your way. The sooner you understand these things, the sooner you can proceed successfully in your new, sober way of life.
Fear is crippling and can hold you back from discovering all that you were meant to be. Don’t give fear that power – kick it out of your life!