The Power of Fear in Addiction & Recovery

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The Power of Fear in Addiction & Recovery

Fear is a powerful emotion that can significantly impact the type of decisions you make. If you are thinking about getting treatment, you may be struggling with your fears about the future. Learning to think about your fears differently can help you control them instead of preventing you from growing. It is time to find your doorway to freedom.

A Fearful Response Can Protect You

Fear is a normal human response to scary or unsettling things. An honest, direct threat to your wellbeing triggers a biological response, causing you to become sweaty, nervous, and alert. Your fight-or-flight mode kicks in as you evaluate the situation and decide what action to take to defend (or not defend) yourself. 

In this sense, fear can serve the purpose of protecting you from danger. There are four primary responses to fear:

  • fight (fight the threat)
  • flight (flee from the danger)
  • fawn (surrender to the threat)
  • freeze (become paralyzed when confronted by the threat)

Not all fears involve life-threatening situations. Sometimes, you may have worries about abstract concerns like your life’s direction. Anxiety can become a severe obstacle when the level of risk present is much lower than you perceived it to be. This misalignment with reality can paralyze you into inaction.

Fear Can Control Your Mind & Hurt Your Body

When this primitive emotion is not helping you survive, it can prevent you from understanding a situation with clarity. Fear can also cause you to do things that you would not do under favorable circumstances. In other words, anxiety can take away your freedom to choose the best path forward. 

Your brain can become impaired in its ability to process information and make good decisions because of interruptions in processes that regulate emotions and behavior. According to one study, fear and anxiety can make you vulnerable to intense emotions and impulsive reactions. There are often grave consequences when people act out of fear because of panic and confusion. 

Ongoing fear can also: 

  • compromise your brain’s ability to form long-term memories
  • make it more difficult for your brain to regulate your perception and response to fear
  • lead to health problems like a weakened immune system and issues of heart and stomach
  • cause mental health concerns such as depression and post-traumatic stress syndrome

Reasons a Person May Fear Sobriety

Fearing the Uncertainties of Change

There are various reasons you may fear sobriety. First off, getting sober means making a significant change to how you have been conducting your life. Most people do not look forward to the uncertainties that change can bring, even those who do not have a substance abuse problem. 

It is a normal fear to have, but it must be embraced if you are to find your true happiness.

Fearing Opportunities for Success & Failure

Another reason for fear is that a sober life is full of opportunities you cannot take advantage of until you are clean. All of the time you spent using substances is now available to achieve something meaningful.

This can be overwhelming, especially if you struggle with low self-esteem. You might fear the challenges and the possibility of failure. It is also possible to fear the likelihood of success because you might believe that you do not deserve good things in life. 

Fearing Emotions & Loss

It is common to use substances to cope with mental health issues like trauma and depression. Once you are sober, you have to find new, healthy ways to manage your emotions. You might even be unsure that you will be able to find happiness or feel pleasure again without drugs or alcohol.

You may also fear the loss of the life and friends you had before. You develop your identity through attachments to places and people, and severing old ties can be devastating.

It’s Time to Start Thinking Differently About Fear

To start thinking differently about fear, you have to be willing to admit you are scared. This is no easy task, especially for men, as there are social expectations to be strong and brave. Taking a small step towards considering the possibility of being fearful of the future gives you a chance to address your fears and overcome them. Remember, being brave does not mean being unafraid; it means taking action despite being afraid.

Another thing you can do is challenge negative ideas. Question if your fear is warranted and think about the decisions and consequences that flow from it. Alternatively, ask yourself what decisions you would make if you were not afraid. How would your life be different? By putting fearful thoughts into perspective, you might gain some fresh insight. 

If you are thinking about getting addiction treatment, fear is an emotion that you are likely experiencing. Know that being afraid of the future is a normal, human response to change. Fear can try to take control over your ability to make decisions, but you have the power to stop it. 

Fear can be an overwhelming emotion that fogs the brain and makes it difficult to cope with life on its own terms. Individuals struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol often have many fears about what the future may hold after treatment. As a result, making the life-altering decision to enroll in a residential program can be tricky. Avalon Malibu is a California state-licensed residential treatment facility for addiction and mental health. We understand the power of fear in addiction and how it prevents you from making choices in your best interests. Our professional team is highly trained and experienced in treating patients like you. We will be by your side to help you face your fears head-on. In the process, you will discover your true self, capable of great things. Life without the crutch of substances can be scary, but it is also beautiful. Call Avalon Malibu to learn more: (844) 857-5992.

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