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Facing fear in recovery

By Tim Woodley

Fear is a very real threat to entering drug and alcohol treatment. It’s tempting to wait until we feel less afraid of taking the action we need to in life, but it’s a mistake to do this. Today we’re talking about how important it is to be brave and proceed with what must be done – even in the face of fear.


Living with fear

In the time before you begin your path to recovery, you likely live alongside many fears. Those struggling with problematic drug and alcohol use often have the simple fear of their family, friends and colleagues discovering their addiction and substance abuse. The list doesn’t often stop there, though; concerns over trouble with the law, relapsing or medical issues are also common. For those with children, the simple fear of social services involvement or, at its worse, losing access to their family and kids.

These fears combine to form a powerful barrier to the consideration of recovery. At this stage in life, it’s difficult to find the strength and mental fortitude required to look your demons in the face and proceed despite them. It takes real bravery to look a past life of difficulty in the face and act regardless, but it’s incredibly important to do so; as your victories begin to accumulate, the life of fear you lived deteriorates before you as you force positive change into your days and weeks.

 

Recovery can be scary – and that’s OK

For most individuals who have lived with problematic drug and alcohol use in some form, the concept of limiting and eliminating their substance misuse is daunting, to say the least. Your addictive habits become a crutch that supports and enable your destructive actions, turning into perverse friends that are familiar and normal to you. They smooth the difficulties you face in life, making it easier to manage the daily stressors and interactions you feel you face.

Living a life free from this support is, for many, genuinely scary. At this stage, it’s important you accept this fear and seek to live and act alongside it as you do what must be done. The inclination to wait until you feel ready is, in most cases, simply another mask for the same voice that will do all it can to stop you from pursuing a sober and drug-free life. We talk about the danger of ‘waiting for the right time’ more in this article.


Facing fear will free you

This judgement we can place on the presence of fear is an insidious thing. If we listen to this voice too much, it’s easy for us to never truly appreciate how empowering it can be to grow as a result of proceeding with what must be done even when afraid.

This is rarely truer than when facing up to entering or enquiring about a drug and alcohol treatment programme. Drug and alcohol treatment involves sharing and baring your thoughts and behaviours to others. This process, difficult as it is for most to begin, is transformative where fear is concerned; by making your darker thoughts and actions known to others who trust without judgement, the fear associated with those things fades and withers before you. As your fear recedes and steadily dies under the light of trust and compassion, your natural strength and courage emerge to take its place. Transformation begins.

In time, the fearful life and mind that seemed a permanent reality to you will diminish significantly. While it may never disappear, rehabilitation will see your ability to manage what remains in you improved drastically.

Part of acting in the presence of fear is about mindfulness. Our fears as adults are a combination of our regrets over the past and negative predictions of the future, making a life gratefully lived day by day the most pragmatic way to act. This frees you: your fear wants to chain you to the past and concern you with the future, and the worst thing it can see you do is to believe in yourself, change your behaviour and act to better yourself despite it still living in your mind.


We’re here to talk

You don’t have to face your fear alone. The Help Me Stop team is right here to chat about your fear and drug and alcohol misuse without any obligation. If you just need an understanding ear or some information to help you make an informed choice about getting the treatment you need, reach out on 0208 191 8920 or use our contact form.