Addicts often have many fears when entering rehab. In fact, fear is typically the reason one may hesitate to seek treatment. So if you’re contemplating recovery but are feeling overwhelmed about the possibilities, you’re not alone. To some degree, all of us who’ve struggled to find our way out of our own version of dysfunction have been there.
Growing up as an adult child of an addict who finally broke free after counseling, I can attest to these fears. I’ve also come to understand that they’re the same ones that kept my mother in her cycle of addiction for so long.
In order to prevent your fears from ruling your life, it’s important to learn to recognize them when they come so you can fight back with the facts. Here are 10 of the most common fears addicts tend to experience as they think about picking themselves back up.
1. “Rehab will be like a mental hospital”
Fact: Though rehabilitation occurs in a hospital environment, images of scenes from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest need not apply. However, active addiction is a disease and is seen as an illness in the medical world. Therefore, the idea that you are being treated in a hospital facility for a mental or physical diagnosis is based on fact. But any fears you may have of being heavily sedated, strapped into a bed or straight jacket, and electro-shocked? You can put those to rest.
2. “I won’t have any friends in there, and I’ll lose the ones I have.”
Fact: Truth be told, many of the so-called friends you have in active addiction aren’t even friends to themselves, much less you. As harsh as it sounds, if they are enabling your destructive habits in any way, they’re not acting like true friends. It’s also very likely that they need help themselves. So even if you don’t have any established friendships in a rehab facility, you are at least in the trajectory of making new and healthier connections with people who are on the road to betterment, rather than self-destruction.
3. “They’re going to brainwash me or make me think everything is my fault.”
Fact: Rehabilitation is not about brainwashing individuals. And, for the record, getting sober and joining a recovery community is not the same as joining a cult. Though you will probably learn a whole new way of thinking, speaking and being, it will not be an effort to brainwash you or save your soul. Rehabilitation is about saving your life.
And as far as convincing you that everything is your fault? Recovery pretty much knocks the idea of placing blame as it serves no purpose during recovery, so you can let that fear go as well.
4. “My life won’t get better.”
Fact: Although there are many steps to take in active recovery, the first one is certainly to admit there is a problem. Entering rehab implies you’ve taken that step so from that point forward your life is already improving.
5. “I could fail.”
Fact: Relapse is part of recovery, but that doesn’t imply that you will or that you have to. In the case that you do, no one will look at you as a failure. Instead, what they’ll see is an individual who is struggling with the addiction disease. Many know it’s a long, hard-won battle that should be taken one day at a time as it is the only way to prevent getting caught up in tomorrow’s what-ifs. If today is the day you enter rehab or another day you’re sober, then your recovery efforts have already been a success.
6. “I’ll have to go to church.”
Fact: Though there are faith-based recovery programs, rehabilitation is typically scientific. There may be spiritual aspects included in rehab when looking at it from a holistic standpoint, but you’re not forced to accept any doctrine of faith or attend faith-based gatherings. At the end of the day, rehab is about restoring your life, not necessarily your soul.
7. “People won’t think I’m cool anymore, and my life will be boring.”
Fact: It may burst your bubble to know this, but active addiction is never “cool.” More times than not the legend you see as yourself is in your own mind. It is the stories you’ll have of survival and overcoming with regard to recovery that will most definitely be cool.
And no, your life won’t be boring. You will simply start living your life, rather than slowly trying to end it. In regards to recovery, your life will only get more exciting because you’ll finally be able to achieve your true potential, feel your feelings deeply and connect with others more intimately. So recovery doesn’t take you from excitement to boredom. Rather, it takes you from numb to alive!
8. “I’ll lose my identity.”
Fact: Although you will lose parts of your identity that are related to active addiction, you will not lose yourself. Actually, quite the contrary will happen. Rehab is exactly where you will start to find or rediscover your true self.
9. “I won’t be able to be myself.”
Fact: For many who are new to recovery, it’s possible that you’re meeting your true self for the very first time. Once your identity is stripped of aspects related to your addiction, you’ll get to learn elements of yourself that are uniquely you. This could include the way you express yourself, books or movies you enjoy, your favorite color—parts of yourself that your addiction has kept you away from. Therefore, in rehab, you can be completely you: a person working on sobriety and facing the issues that kept him or her in active addiction.
10. “Everything I know will change.”
Fact: You are right. A great deal of what you know will change, but this fear is normal and shouldn’t be seen as negative. When everything you know in active addiction has gotten so bad that you are contemplating a change, then change is exactly what you need. Embrace it, and let the winds of change carry you where you need to be.