Boo! How to Overcome the Fears of Sobriety
October is notorious for ghouls, goblins, and ghosts galore—all things that scare us and can make sleeping at night a daunting task. In terms of “spookiness,” Hollywood-esque images of creepy dolls and terrifying clowns may come to mind. When it comes to your recovery, you may be facing some fears and scary night-time images of your own.
If you’re new to recovery, this huge overhaul and journey that you’re embarking on is probably quite scary! Even if you have time in recovery, the day to day struggles can be equally as terrifying. The fear of returning to use, being the most obvious, can be all-consuming at times, but there are countless other anxieties associated specifically with early recovery.
Who will I hang out with? Where will I find new friends? Will people still like me when I am sober? How will I cope with stressful situations? What will I do to fill my free time? Will I ever have fun again? Whatever your fears may be, they’re valid, and can be addressed and managed in healthy ways.
How to Understand and Overcome the Fear of Being Sober
Address the fear of change
The root of many common anxieties is the discomfort that is associated with change. Humans are creatures of habit, and have evolved to elevate awareness and senses when change is present. These mechanisms occur to protect individuals—almost like the way in which you might sense someone walking behind you.
To overcome this, you can practice acceptance and turn your worries over to your higher power or the collective wisdom of a higher counsel such as your sponsor or an AA or NA group. By practicing acceptance, you can find peace in knowing that you are powerless over drugs and alcohol, they have no place in your life, and beginning your recovery and sobriety is exactly what you are supposed to be doing, or rather, what you must do to make your life manageable again.
Embrace the opportunities
During early recovery, you may lose old friends that you were actively using with. You may be unable to patron the same places you once spent time in to have “fun”, and your idea of “fun” and leisure time will completely change. That’s okay and can be a beautiful thing.
Your recovery network, if utilized properly, can give you access to many individuals from all walks of life who genuinely understand your ailments and your accomplishments in sobriety. Find a group of individuals that uplift you and make you feel good about your recovery. The people you surround yourself with and reach out to can be an incredible support to you during this journey and the opportunities for new friendships and new fun is limitless.
Step out of your own way
The shame and guilt associated with active use probably held you back more than it helped you move forward in your life. During your early recovery, it can be tempting to return to ways of thinking that can put yourself directly in the way of your own growth. Don’t get in your own way. Take a deep breath and remind yourself of the serenity prayer each day:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference, just for today.
When you find yourself blocking your own path—reach out to someone in your support network. Talk through the things you are facing or the worries you have with someone who has experience or can provide you with insight.
Your recovery has the potential to help you be a better friend, partner, sister or brother, professional, volunteer, and more. As long as you allow yourself to take the necessary steps forward, you can take this growing opportunity and newly found free-time to improve your life in all areas. You may find that to grow, you have to take inventory and release unhealthy habits from your past. That is expected, and a sponsor or close friend in your program is a great source of support for you in doing so.
During active use, excitement and joy in your life probably came predominantly from your drug of choice. It’s time now to find what makes you feel alive again, because that’s where your passions exist. This might be reading, painting, exercising, playing with your kids, or learning new things. You may have to try out a few new things before you find your “aha!” feeling. That’s okay too! Rediscovering your personality in sobriety can be scary—but it can equally be a beautiful and exciting thing. Utilize your journal as you try out new things to reflect on how the experiences made you feel. Once you find something that you enjoy, make special time for it and do it to the best of your ability.
Learn to laugh
Finally, even in moments of fear, learn to laugh whenever you can, as often as you can. When you find yourself in the midst of your own anxiety, it can be overwhelming and all-consuming. You may tell yourself that dwelling on the things you can’t control, obsessing over the fears and the unknown—that’s easier than addressing them and finding a reason to laugh or smile. That’s simply not the case. Focusing exclusively on the negatives of your recovery can lead to extreme mental and physical discomfort, and may eventually lead you back to the feelings that drove you to use substances in the first place.
Find reasons to laugh and smile through gratitude each hour of your day. Though your journey through recovery is absolutely serious, try not to always take yourself so seriously. On your hardest days, you might try writing down two or three reasons you had to smile. When you imagine your reservations and fears, remember that they are feelings. You cannot always control how you feel, or when you feel fear, but you don’t have to let the feelings or fear control you. You CAN do this.
For more information, resources, and encouragement, ‘like’ the Fellowship Hall Facebook page and follow us on Instagram at @FellowshipHallNC.
About Fellowship Hall
Fellowship Hall is a 99-bed, private, not-for-profit alcohol and drug treatment center located on 120 tranquil acres in Greensboro, N.C. We provide treatment and evidence-based programs built upon the Twelve-Step model of recovery. We have been accredited by The Joint Commission since 1974 as a specialty hospital and are a member of the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers. We are committed to providing exceptional, compassionate care to every individual we serve.