man with substance issues fearful of getting sober

The 3 Biggest Fears I Had About Getting Sober

By Nina Bradshaw is a professionally qualified social worker and therapist in the UK. She earned a Master's Degree in Personality Disorder Studies, a Master's Degree in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and a Master's Degree in Sociology/Social Policy/Social Work.

Sober Recovery Expert Author

man with substance issues fearful of getting sober

It took me about a decade from the time that I realized that I was an addict to finally get sober. I had spent most of my adult life using substances in one form or another, from party drugs to cannabis to alcohol. Alcohol, however, was the one that I was using dependently when I made the decision to go for treatment.

Of course, I tried many times to quit during my addiction. Now, four years sober, I have come to the realization that one of the main reasons it took me so long to get into recovery was fear.

Fear is a painful and difficult emotion to deal with. It took me an awful long time to face mine, and it has been an arduous process.

Fear is a powerful motivator. It stops us from doing things that are harmful to us. In some scenarios, fear can be helpful, but when it actually stops you from making changes that are beneficial, that’s when it becomes a big problem.

So even though I knew how much damage I was inflicting on myself by continuing to drink, there was a part of me that was absolutely petrified of making the changes needed. Today I can see that the things I feared were not only necessary but crucial to my recovery.

Here are the 3 biggest fears I had about getting sober, but are actually the best things that could have happened to me.

1. Facing the Pain

I’ve gone through my fair share of pain in my life. From the agonizing abuse and neglect in my childhood to the loss of my daughter’s father, my sister and mom all to substance abuse, I never knew how to healthily process my feelings. Instead, I suppressed everything and turned to alcohol in order to keep things out of my full awareness.

Even when I became sober, it still took me a while to begin facing the pain and loss that I had been afraid of. Until I was able to do so, the risk of relapse was high. Now that I have allowed myself to properly grieve, I am much more able to cope with life’s ups and downs and move on from the past.

2. Dealing with Consequences

I was also scared of owning up to the consequences of my drinking, the impact it had had on my life, and of those around me. I had a daughter who needed me, and I had a responsible job. I was terrified of facing the fact that I was not the kind of parent or employee I wanted myself to be.

Ironically, the fear I had about my parenting and job lessened as I granted myself compassion and forgiveness, embracing the pain that I had been carrying around instead of running away from it. Through the work of self-forgiveness, I am now in a better place. I am able to move forward rather than be stuck in the past. I am also able to more truly empathize with other people’s pain, which has enhanced both my professional and personal relationships. I now have a sense of connection that I previously did not know.

3. Discovering My True Self

The idea of finding out who I was may have been the scariest thing of all. I was frightened at what kind of person I could be without the crutch of alcohol or other substances. Afraid that I would be a failure and not live up to the expectations of what a sober life requires.

However, since giving up drinking, I have developed as an artist and writer. I am in full-time work doing what I love and am about to embark on a training course that has been my long-held ambition. While I was still drinking and in a place of unresolved grief and depression, these things would not have been possible.

I have grown so much since I put down the booze, and can see there is still more growth and learning to come. Instead of being defeated by it, I am filled with anticipation and an intense curiosity about what the future might bring.

Now, I have found a sense of purpose and self-love that has me beginning to believe that I have a whole lot of untapped potential, unique gifts and a story of hope to share with the world. But I had to face my fears and start to overcome them before I could see this.

Fear is a painful and difficult emotion to deal with. It took me an awful long time to face mine, and it has been an arduous process. But since I have faced the fears that prevented me from giving up the drink, I have newfound freedom, self-confidence, and joy. If fear is holding you back, then believe that facing up to it, although difficult, is worth it in the long run.

If you or someone you know is seeking help from addiction, please visit our directory of treatment centers or call 800-891-8171 to speak to a treatment specialist.

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