The Fear of Being Sober: It’s the Nagging Feeling at the Back of Your Mind

The Fear of Being Sober: It's the Nagging Feeling at the Back of Your Mind - woman depressed

By Sandy Baker

How can you be afraid of being sober when that’s why you are here, why you are working so hard, and what your family is counting on?

Many individuals facing drug and alcohol addiction have developed a lifestyle around their addiction. Everything they do – day in and day out – focuses on that next hit, drink, or high. When you take that away, even when you know it is for the best, you are opening the door to all types of risks. Your primary focus is ripped away. Suddenly, you are faced with reality. And, to be frank, many times, that reality is downright hard to swallow.

Define Your Fear to Overcome It

Recognizing that a fear is present is the first step in moving beyond it. The fear of being sober is often about dealing with your loss of a coping mechanism for “real” life. You’re afraid you don’t have the tools and resources to help you to maintain your sobriety. And, you are afraid that being sober will simply be too hard.

Understand that getting sober means you will need to find a replacement for the coping mechanism of alcohol and drugs. You’ll need something new, unfamiliar, and probably something that will not feel right at first. Know what to expect:

  • Sobriety will feel bad. Not just physically, but it will feel uncomfortable to deal with on a daily basis.
  • You’ll start thinking about things you don’t want to think about, and that’s okay.
  • It’s hard work. You’ll have to push through.
  • Staying stuck in your fear will mean you cannot break free from addiction; in most cases, this is a life-threatening situation.
  • Once you try to live sober and fight the uncomfortable feelings, it will get better. It may not even be as bad as your mind is making it out to be.

It’s important to remember that addiction can be treated but is rarely truly cured. You’ll face a variety of long-term struggles. You can expect to sometimes feel afraid, worried, unable to move forward, and downright unwilling to face what’s coming. But, that’s exactly what you need to do.

When the Fear of Being Sober Means Facing Emotion

Alcohol and drugs cover up pain and suffering. They cover up all of that “stuff” that happened that you don’t want to deal with. But, being sober commonly causes people to fear that pain coming back. This is possible. It may happen. But you can deal with it and prevent it from hurting you any longer.

How to Cope with a Fear of Sobriety

Now that you can recognize this fear, the question is, how do you get through it? When you are feeling those emotional and ups and downs, how do you pull together the pieces and stick to the path towards recovery? These steps can help.

  1. Answer the why question
    Tell yourself specifically why you are doing this. Why are you willing to go through the fear and pain of becoming sober? It could be to live a better quality of life, to achieve your dreams, to grow old with someone you love, or just to see your child graduate high school. What is YOUR reason?
  2. Get your support in line
    Have a solid support system just a phone call away. Not only do you need professionals to support you through this process, but you also need friends or sponsors who you know are always there for you. And, they need to have an understanding of your fear. That’s the hard part – making sure they understand why you are scared.
  3. Put a name on it
    One of the steps to take when it comes to addressing your fears is simply to state the fear aloud. That is, say what it is you are afraid of right now. “I’m afraid I’m going to fail if I have to deal with what’s in my head…” “I’m afraid of having feelings again.” “I’m terrified it will hurt to be sober.” By vocalizing what you are worried and afraid of, it becomes possible for you to start to process it.
  4. Deal with what’s underneath
    Perhaps most important task for many people facing addiction is dealing with what put them there in the first place. Many men and women don’t want to be sober because it brings up memories, thought patterns, and fears of emotions. It’s important to recognize that this is happening to you, to face what happened in the past, and to know what could happen looking forward. It may mean additional counseling, speaking to others, or just forgiving yourself for whatever you believe you did wrong.

At The Ranch at Dove Tree, a key component of our process is to give you the tools you need to move forward. That includes talking about these fears, learning to understand what sobriety will mean to you, and facing what’s underneath it all.

If you are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, don’t let the fear of being sober and reclaiming your limit stop you. Instead, work with our skilled team to learn how to overcome this pain for good.

The Fear of Being Sober: It's the Nagging Feeling at the Back of Your Mind - the ranch at dove tree - drug and alcohol treatment center in lubbock, texas

To learn more about our programs at Ranch at Dove Tree, please contact us today at 800.218.6727.

Sources:
6 Common Fears in Addiction Recovery – and How to Face Them. Psych Central.
Alcoholism, substance abuse, and addictive behavior.
Drugs, Brains, and Behavior: The Science of Addiction. National Institute on Drug Abuse.

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