Is Fear of the Unknown Blocking Your Ability to Recover from Addiction?

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Who Answers?

Fear—it’s the number one emotion that comes up when the idea of addiction treatment is presented to an addict.

Defined as a stressful or distressing emotion that creates the premise of impending danger or doom, fear is a trigger both for anxiety, avoidance, and even for substance abuse. If fear is allowed to completely take over the thought processes, anxiety and full-blown panic can set in.

But WHY?

Why do those addicted to drugs or alcohol fear treatment? And more so, is fear ruining your chances of recovery?

The Facts

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older.” This is an estimated 18% of the entire population.

People fear a number of things when addiction treatment or recovery is brought up. Some of the most common fears include:

  • Fear that life won’t be as enjoyable when sober.
  • Fear that treatment will hurt or be painful.
  • Fear that treatment won’t work.
  • Fear that staying sober will be too difficult.
  • Fear that the challenges of life will be too much to bare without drugs or alcohol.
  • Fear that treatment will cost too much.
  • Fear that recovery will create too many boundaries.
  • Fear that relationships will suffer in recovery (especially if only ONE partner in the relationship chooses recovery).

How Fear Affects Recovery

Fear can impede recovery. It is very common for people to allow their fear to get into the way of their recovery often times causing them not to choose treatment or not to remain in treatment when times get tough.

While it’s completely natural to encounter fear in recovery, excessive fear can greatly impede your ability to get well. Be prepared to properly deal with any of the following instances of excessive fear that could be preventing you from making a full recovery from substance abuse or addiction:

  • Fear stopping you in your tracks, preventing you from taking action and getting help.
  • Fear that prevents you from thinking clearly about what is necessary.
  • Fear that causes you to make poor decisions.
  • Fear that creates undue stress and leads to relapse.
  • Fear that is used to justify relapse.
  • Fear that builds a sense of dissatisfaction in recovery.
  • Fear that impeded emotional healing in recovery.