Renaissance Ranch

Combatting 5 Common Fears in Addiction Recovery

Jun 4, 2024

Fear: a common unwanted companion during the addiction recovery process. It can be the reason for resistance to seeking help. It can be a significant factor in giving up. Henry Ford said, “One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his great surprises, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.”

Many are afraid to begin their addiction recovery journey because they can’t bear the thought of trying and failing. Their addiction has taken so much from them already that they have lost faith in themselves and maybe even lost faith in God.

At our faith-based recovery programs in Utah and Idaho, we’re passionate about providing tools for our residents to choose faith as their compass instead of fear. Here are five common fears in addiction recovery and tips for combatting them with faith.

Common Fears in Addiction Recovery

(Inzmam Khan/pexels)

1. Fear of Living a Sober Life

Sobriety can be scary for someone who hasn’t lived sober in a long time. For many, addictive substances are a coping mechanism. Instead of facing hardships or trauma, they find an escape in alcohol or drugs. Being sober means eliminating that unhealthy coping mechanism that they’ve become so dependent on. It means finding new, healthier ways to cope.

How to Combat It:

Gregory Clark, a professor at Brigham Young University, said, “It is important to learn how to live in faith rather than fear because the process of changing for the better is at the very foundation of the Father’s plan for us. Changing for the better is what we are here in this life to do, and it is what the mission of His Son enables us to do.”

Putting in the work to reach a long-lasting goal of sobriety takes a lot of faith, patience, and perseverance. Fear works against faith, and faith can sometimes feel unnatural when lost for so long. However, when we prioritize working on our faith, it will become a natural instinct to emulate faith in our daily lives.

2. Fear of Change

Fear of change is called metathesiophobia, and it’s a common phobia among those in addiction recovery.

H.P. Lovecraft said, “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”

We naturally fear the unknown. We fear change when our hindsight is blurry. For someone with substance abuse disorder, the fear of losing their identity can be overwhelming. “Who am I outside of my addiction?”

How to Combat It:

  • Cultivate a growth mindset
  • Practice mindfulness to decrease anxious thoughts centered around change
  • Write down thoughts and feelings in times of loneliness
  • Lean on a support system
  • Get educated about addiction and what addiction recovery centers offer
  • Pray for faith that is stronger than fear
  • Work with a therapist and practice stress management techniques

3. Fear of the Future

Many recovering from substance addiction fear successfully becoming sober. They wonder, “What will I do with my life when I’m sober?” The fear may come from feeling inadequate to have a promising career or pursue an education. Building a sober life may seem so foreign, so unattainable, that the decision to start toward that path creates pure fear of the future.

How to Combat It:

It’s normal to have worries and fears in addiction recovery, but if your fear of the future is consuming you and hindering your ability to heal, try these tips.

  • Acknowledge feelings
  • Identify the most significant worries about the future
  • Practice positive self-talk such as “I am the master of my fate”
  • Analyze the risks
  • Live in the moment
  • Replace worrisome thoughts with productive thoughts
  • Practice relaxation techniques
  • Talk to a family member or friend about each fear
  • Pray for faith

4. Fear of Abandonment

Those who have lived a particular lifestyle full of drugs and alcohol may fear that if they become sober, friends and loved ones who were a part of that life may reject them. They may also fear that if they open up about their addiction to their loved ones who are not a part of that life, they will be shunned or looked down upon. The fear of abandonment from every angle can be hard to deal with.

How to Combat It:

Opening up about your addiction and asking for help can be terrifying. Tell yourself that you’d rather face that fear than continue down an unhealthy path of self-destruction. Those who abandon you for asking for help don’t genuinely care about you. You’ll discover who is truly in your corner. Who loves you at your worst and deserves you at your best?

Those who care about your best interest will be relieved, pleased, and proud that you admitted your addiction and are taking that first step to get clean. Here are some tips for replacing your fear of abandonment with faith.

  • Find a trusted and compassionate therapist
  • Build connections with a support system
  • Give yourself grace and compassion
  • Practice mindfulness

5. Fear of Losing Your Identity

It’s common for people to feel disconnected from themselves in the trenches of substance abuse disorder and in the beginning stages of recovery. After months or years of drugs or alcohol being the center of their life, it can be hard for them to view themselves as anything else. Then, in recovery, it can feel like they lost themselves for a bit. A genuine recovery means a lot of change, a lot of growth, and a lot of development.

How to Combat It:

Recovery starts with discovering that you are more than the box you’ve put yourself into. Tell yourself that you lost your identity during your addiction, and recovering is how to get it back. Here are some tips on working through an identity crisis during your recovery.

  • Make a list of the most important things
  • Take time to weigh options in decision-making
  • Take care of mental and physical health
  • Set firm boundaries
  • Try to replace old behaviors with new, healthy ones

It’s OK to have fear. We all have fears, but when they affect our decision-making and ability to progress, that fear becomes detrimental. No matter which fear is strongest for you, it’s essential to admit the fear, focus on the benefits of sobriety, pray daily, and lean on a support system, including substance abuse rehab. All of our steps toward dealing with fear require faith. Remember, fear asks, “What if?” but faith says, “Even if.” With the Savior’s help, you can get through anything.