All fear is, in essence, is an anxious concern for the future. We are afraid of the things that have not yet happened, but if they did, they are likely to bring us pain, suffering or some other discomfort – or stand in the way of some future contentment.
Fear can definitely keep people trapped in their addiction. A lot of the time addicts have the clarity to see how much the substance abuse is destroying their life, but the idea of leaving their misery behind is terrifying. This is because there is comfort in the familiar even when the familiar is far from what society considers ideal. Addicts may actually fear the idea of being successful in recovery. What if a person actually succeeds in staying sober? What will happen then? What kind of life will a person have? For other people, the idea of succeeding interferes with their long held belief in not deserving success and well being. They are frightened by the idea of facing life without alcohol and drugs-at first it may appear to be a great deal of work with no real reward. Some might may be skeptical when believing that the hard work in learning new skills will not be worth the prize of sobriety. And then there’s the fear of failure – the fear that they cannot keep up with the expectations of sobriety in the face of relapse.
However, in many cases fear may actually be a primary motivator for abstinence among those in recovery.
Addicts challenge main stream society when they say things like “It isn’t your fault you’re sick, addiction is a disease, etc” and I think it causes them to make impulsive angry or hurtful comments- all stemming from fear. When addicts begin their recovery journey they experience feelings of vulnerability, helplessness, threat, embarrassment or inadequacy. Think about it this way, when addicts seek help for their addictions they usually had some bad things happen in their lives which scared them into making a change-in essence, they are running away from some nasty and even deadly consequences. The majority of addicts firmly believe in the idea that all of their emotional problems will be cured and the best feelings in life will be achieved by abusing substances-and they really don’t question this fact. So how do they fight this motivation to use?
This avoidance of negative consequences turns into a fight fueled by fear. Attending support groups as the foundation of their recovery serves as this fear to fight their motivation to use. They understand and believe in ideas such as; “loss of control”, moderation being impossible and regularly attending meetings as absolutely necessary. The fear is actually whats saving them. So when you challenge their ideas and ways of “doing recovery” it makes them angry and often times defensive. If you are quick to judge their methods and ideologies without even attempting to demonstrate them logically, you may actually be threatening their chance at sobriety.