Facing Your Fears of Getting Sober

Fear is a given in life. Everyone is going to feel it at one point or another. However, some people let fear hold them back while others don’t. And when it comes to recovery, there are all sorts of unknowns that a person might be afraid of. But, as you may already know, many people move forward anyway. Those who really want to get sober find the courage inside to move past those fears and get the help they need.

Here’s an inspiring story about courage by Georges St-Pierre, author of The Way of the Fight:

I remember hearing a story about soldiers going into battle and showing no fear, and the guy said it was really simple (I’m paraphrasing here): ‘There are two kinds of men: those who want to go out and fight—the crazy ones—and the ones who are afraid to go, but they go anyway. They’re the courageous ones.’ I realized at this moment that it takes fear to make a person courageous. And I like that, because courage says something about you.

The result is that, after a while, you get practice at being courageous. You understand how to move forward against fear, how to react in certain situations. You just get better. It doesn’t mean you stop feeling fear—that would be careless—but it means you have earned the right to feel confidence in the battle against fear.

There’s no question that there is a lot of fear in recovery. Getting sober can feel like you are taking a step into the unknown. It might feel like you are taking a leap of faith. When someone decides to get help for their addiction, he or she will often have no idea what to expect. A person might hope that there will be the right people, environment, and resources to feel well supported in their early recovery.

In fact, it is fear that can hold someone back and keep them from getting help. Most people fear change, and when there is that fear of the unknown or when there is chronic ambivalence and uncertainty, it can be stifling and interfere with one’s ability to move forward. It’s common to see someone who is frequently ambivalent and indecisive move from one side of the fence to the other. That person might continue to jump from “Yes, I’m ready to get sober,” to “No, I don’t want to do it.”

If you’re stuck in fear and you can’t seem to move forward, here are some suggestions to consider:

First, accept where you are. If you try to force yourself to get help when you’re not ready, you might doing something to sabotage it. Don’t try to force yourself into a rash decision. Simply let yourself be where you are. Recognize and accept your ambivalent feelings.

Second, remember that you can take your time. You’re human. And you’re not a soldier being forced into battle. If you want to get sober, you will. Give yourself some time to accept the fear and make the right decision for yourself. (However, don’t use this as an excuse to avoid getting help.)

Third, talk to someone so that you can process your feelings. It’s perfectly normal to be afraid. Sometimes, recognizing that fear will be a part of your experience regardless of your choices, then you might feel more apt to ignore the fear and get the help you need.

Lastly, get help to manage fear, especially if it feels overwhelming. Consider seeking professional mental health services to help yourself examine and sort out your feelings of fear and ambivalence.

Although you’re afraid, there are steps to take so that fear doesn’t stand in your way.


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