By: SOL Recovery Center 25 May 2016

Some think that the path to recovery is all sunshine and flowers but in actuality, it is quite the opposite. Overcoming addiction is difficult. Fear, anxiety and insecurity can hinder the progress of long-term recovery from addiction.


It can get quite terrifying for someone in the early recovery stages to even think about continuing life without the help of substances, like drugs or alcohol. Use of these types of substances provides a support system that appears to be a way of escape when challenges come about. Hence, the contemplation of facing those challenges substance-free can be quite frightening.

Feelings of anxiety, fear, and insecurity possibly derived from Social Anxiety Disorder are what set a desire for drugs or alcohol in motion. Social Anxiety Disorder is commonly parallel to substance disorder, as either drugs or alcohol is used to soothe the negative feelings that the individual is experiencing in social situations. This is the reason why dual diagnosis and treatment of social anxiety and substance disorder is so crucial for lasting success.

Overcoming Fears

Fear of the Unfamiliar. For someone who has been an addict long-term, it may be difficult to imagine a sober, happy life. The duration of dependency on drugs can compound this. A life focused on substance use can become comfortable yet restricted. For such an individual, sobriety may seem unbearable due to its unfamiliarity.

Fear of Relationship Failure. For someone serious about becoming sober, a closer examination of his/her life may be in order. There are certain types of toxic people within the drug community that an addict would normally surround himself/herself with due to their drug dependency. These tend to be individuals with the same values that possess the same addictive behavior. Such people should not accompany a person on the road to recovery. Letting go of these relationships will prove to be extremely challenging and emotional.

The Fear of Boredom. An addict can become so acclimated to temporary thrills of party life, that it can alter his/her view of reality. When becoming sober, memory can mislead an addict to think that the party life was better. Many newly sober individuals might worry that their drug and alcohol-free life will be boring and dull.

The Fear of Life Itself. Because of an addict’s inability to deal with routine tasks, everyday responsibilities were handed off to others. However, once sober, impending obligations can cause stress for recovering addicts. It’s common for recovering addicts to experience difficulty in securing employment and/or meeting financial obligations that can lead to feelings of apprehension.

Fear of Failure. There may be recurring doubts for a recovering addict that it may not be possible to remain sober after all the effort. There are fears of disappointing loved ones who have been loyal and supportive. This fear may, in turn, become a self-fulfilling prophecy. In addition, some addicts perceive staying sober as hard work and there may be concern about their ability to endure.

The Fear of Being Successful. On the contrary to the paragraph above, many recovering addicts may experience the fear of succeeding. This type of fear may cause the addict to self-destruct based on negative messages from within. Low self-esteem and insecurity are the root causes for such feelings. Some might feel that they are not worthy of excelling or of having a satisfying, joy-filled life.

Effective Methods for Coping

Due to the common recurrence of the fears and concerns about recovery, a fully engaged involvement in a continuing care program, such as the 12-step program, is essential to building stability and long-lasting support.

In addition, it is also important for the newly sober individual to attend group or individual therapy, as it provides a safe haven to express emotions such as fear, or to express feelings concerning experiences he/she has during the recovery period. For example, by learning relaxation techniques like yoga or deep breathing, the individual is able to alleviate fear and anxiety when these feelings surface. Maintaining a journal is an effective way to probe deep into one’s mind, and explore the source of fears and insecurities that can be discussed in therapy later on.

It is a fact that the road to recovery can be a difficult one, however, by using the right coping techniques, the path to a new life can be achieved with great success.

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