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Common Fears During Recovery & How to Conquer Them

While everyone is prone to fear, overcoming fear in recovery can make all the difference. In 2015, an estimated 8.1 percent of the U.S. population aged 12 or older needed substance abuse treatment. Yet 19.3 million people over the age of 12 who were classified as needing substance use treatment did not attend a treatment center. Since 1999, over 770,000 Americans have died from drug overdoses. 

Common Fears of Alcoholics

You may be scared to stop drinking or go to a rehab center. We hold fast to our fears because they make us feel safe. Fear is a big part of what drives addictive behavior, and it’s also one of the biggest obstacles in recovery. Whether you’re considering entering a treatment program or are already enrolled in one, fear is a normal part of addiction.

Identifying our fears and learning from them can help us achieve success in our journey to recovery. Typical fears of alcoholics include:

  • Fear of rejection: A common concern of alcoholics in early recovery is that the people they love will abandon them or that they’ll be judged. 
  • Fear of loss: Giving up your addiction can sometimes feel like losing a close friend or family member. Your addiction has been there with you through thick and thin. Fear of losing friends is common because it’s uncertain who will be at your side once you’re sober. 
  • Fear of failure: Recovery is a process that sometimes involves falling and getting up again. There will be times you may doubt yourself or get pushed outside of your comfort zone. 
  • Fear of change: You may fear the unknown or fear losing your identity. 
  • Fear of success: Some people have a deeply held belief that they don’t deserve to succeed, which causes them to self-sabotage or not put forth their best effort. 
  • Fear of ongoing misery: You may worry that you won’t be able to feel happy without substances. 
  • Fear of feeling: Spending time in recovery and feeling your emotions can be overwhelming. This is completely normal.

Dealing With Fear in Addiction Recovery

Learning to cope with common fears in recovery is one of the most important skills. It’s the period after treatment that poses the most challenges for a person facing drug and alcohol addiction and substance abuse. That’s why at Gateway we provide a continuum of care for each individual that tracks success over time. We want to guide you through the period after initial treatment to ensure you can deal with fear in addiction recovery with ongoing support and understanding.

Techniques to deal with fear and anxiety in early recovery include:

    • Rely on your support network: Stay in touch with friends and family that support your recovery. Rely on ongoing support from health care providers who are there for you. 
    • Face your fears: Adopting a positive view of fear and verbalizing your concerns has been proven to expedite the recovery process. Putting your worries into words can tap into the parts of the brain responsible for emotional regulation and logic. 
    • Revisit the goals you made while in treatment: Sometimes, all you need is to be reminded of why you decided to start recovery in the first place. Knowing the “why” can help you stay on track.
    • Enroll in an aftercare program: Aftercare is crucial to recovery. An aftercare program will allow you to work on your recovery outside of rehab. 
    • Surround yourself with positive influences: Positive, sober and pleasant people and environments play a huge role in keeping you on track. Try to avoid triggers that will prompt impulses for you to use. 
    • Use relaxation techniques: Relaxation techniques can prevent fear from turning into panic. 
    • Ease withdrawal symptoms with a medically supervised detox: Medical detox programs can provide you with close monitoring, support and, when needed, medical intervention. 
    • Create a vision board: Create a list of goals for the future. Viewing these every day will help you remember why you went to rehab and what you have to look forward to. 
    • Feel your feelings: Breathe deeply while thinking through your fears without resistance. After some time, you’ll notice that your worries begin to dissipate. Practice being mindful in the present rather than pondering the past and “what-ifs.” 

Reach Out for Help Today

Hope and healing are always possible when it comes to overcoming addiction. At Gateway, our approach is evidence-based and personalized to each individual. Our compassionate team of professionals is here to provide you with individualized, life-saving addiction treatment. Contact us today to learn more.

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