I was talking with a friend in AA, trying to figure out why people suffering from substance abuse disorder delay their recovery. Then I realized, a big part of that hesitation is fear.
After mulling this information over, I compiled a comprehensive list of the Top 5 Pre-Sobriety Fears. While acknowledging the general motivations behind each fear, I took great care and pleasure in debunking each one.
The Biggest Fears Preventing Your Recovery
#1 Lack of Discipline/Willpower
The first fear of the Top 5 Pre-Sobriety Fears is you lack the discipline to recover from substance abuse addiction.
You probably got this idea from your parents–humanity’s split in two: those who do, those who don’t. Those who “do” (however vague that is), are good, productive, and have worth. Those who “don’t” are lazy, ineffectual drains on society. It’s all capitalism’s fault (I know, I can almost hear the eye-rolls). Hear me out: we’re brainwashed to believe that if you don’t sit at a desk from nine-to-five, then you’re worthless? A burden? Way to pigeonhole every living person into one of two categories, guys. On top of that, they equate this self-induced torture to a generalized concept of strength?
You can have all of the drive, discipline, willpower– the name doesn’t matter– and still not fulfill other’s expectations. In fact, you can exceed other’s expectations time and time again, but you know what happens? They move the goal post.
Willpower is subjective. Forget willpower, you don’t need it. All you need is the willingness to do something, and strive towards it as best you can. Once you stop living for the approval of others, you can do anything, and that includes getting sober.
#2 Becoming Boring
The second fear of the Top 5 Pre-Sobriety Fears is that sobriety strips away your personality.
I get that insecurities are a part of the human condition, but what purpose do they serve? It is common for people to “compliment” someone’s behavior while under the influence. The person interprets the compliment as “I am funnier when I’m drunk” and internalizes this thought. They believe that alcohol is what makes them likable.
To clarify: Your personality is not (never has and never will be) dependent on alcohol, nor did it begin with alcohol. The fear of becoming boring exists in false pretense– the concept of “boring” is entirely relative. One person may find video games pointless, while another finds the virtual adventures exciting and engaging. That sentiment applies to any passion, project, and pastime.
Often the object of a person’s addiction, whether that be drugs or alcohol, replaces their sense of identity. You can escape the toxic cycle of thought once you stop perpetuating the self- platitudes and placations (lies, if we’re being blunt) that enable the continuation of abuse.
Free yourself from fear. Return to the passions you had prior to your relationship to drinking. If you feel as though you didn’t have a passion before drinking, or that your past passion may act as a slippery slope that may enable alcohol into your life again, you can always find another passion. Many people are under the impression that everyone has their “one thing” that they’re good at, but passions intermingle, converge and combine with one another. Nothing is black and white.
Find something you love, and love doing it.
#3 Sober Life is a Dull Life
The third fear of the Top 5 Pre-Sobriety Fears is that life is devoid of excitement without drugs or alcohol.
A lot of people struggle to make the decision to get sober because they believe that a life without drugs or alcohol is a life dulled, lacking in color and interest. So far into their addiction, they can no longer picture an existence free from the constraints of substance abuse. While in the thralls of alcoholism, it can seem as if life outside of drinking appears like a walking yawn, but it’s entirely the opposite. Before you quit drinking, your options are rather limited to alcohol-centric activities.
Once you’ve settled into sobriety, the world is your oyster. Any trip, any task, any hobby you’ve been pushing off, or denying yourself suddenly becomes a possibility. Trapped inside alcohol’s hazy, glazed-over lens, stumbling from bar to bar in a never-ending pub crawl might appear like the epitome of fun, but once you allow yourself to be free, you see the world clearly again. Living for alcohol is hardly living at all. The things you wished you were doing instead of drinking find you in sobriety. You lose yourself in genuine happiness, instead of another round.
I repeat: rekindle old passions. Find new passions. Pour your energy into something you enjoy, something that makes you happy. Life is what you make of it.
#4 Powerless Without “Liquid Courage”
The fourth fear of the Top 5 Pre-Sobriety Fears is that you lack courage without drugs or alcohol.
What are the things you’re preemptively burying? Are they good for you? Or were they just things to pass the time while drinking? Jumping a line at a bar, pocketing an over-priced pair of earrings at a bougie boutique out with the girls, or purchasing tickets the-night-of for a flight to LA when you working in the morning because you lacked inhibition– all things you can live without, I promise you.
If you’re afraid to miss out on opportunities that could potentially help you grow, you need to ask yourself what is holding you back, not idolize the alcohol that “helps” you accomplish them. Are you struggling with anxiety as a result of low self-esteem and a lack of self-respect? I’ve got just the thing for you: therapy. I won’t get all preachy, and I know that the concept of whining about feelings may seem weak or pointless to some people, but that’s the doubt of a cynic. Whatever happened to trying anything once?
For your loved ones, for your health, for your sanity– find out why you “need” the crutch of liquid courage and… figure out how to not need it. Dig deep within yourself, get introspective with it, and locate the fear behind the “need.” Once you have located the origins of your fear-based “need” for the numbing agents of alcohol, you can dismantle the dependency from within. This puts you one step closer to freedom– to choose recovery and yourself. After all, freedom from fear is what sobriety is all about. It’s time to release fear’s hold on you and lean on faith instead.
#5 FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
The fifth fear of the Top 5 Pre-Sobriety Fears is that sobriety inevitably disconnects you from friends and events.
FOMO, the Fear of Missing Out, is a curse that eats at the best of us. It’s a task and a half to avoid alcohol– it’s ingrained in American culture. TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) is often followed by an open invitation to meet up at the local bar. Most social events either revolve around or at the very least present the option of, drinking. The almost unavoidable presence of alcohol means that people with addictions are stuck in perpetual limbo. It is vital to remember: nowhere is it written that you can’t enjoy a night out with your friends without getting blitzed.
Addendum 1: If your friends present any note of judgment around your sobriety– if they mock you, or attempt to tempt you with a drink– they clearly do not respect your position on drinking, and by extension, they don’t respect you. Boy, bye.
Addendum 2: Keep in mind, sobriety can act as a set of prescription glasses. You’re going to see everything through the clearest of vision. This will shift your perception of drinking– you will likely find yourself bored or even shrouded under a cloak of second-hand embarrassment during the proceedings of a night out with inebriated pals.
Addendum 3: This is not to imply that by entering sobriety you will discover that your entire friend group consists of cruelly critical, humiliating monsters– not by any means. I’m simply pointing out that there is a possibility that the dreaded FOMO may illuminate information that was previously obscured by alcohol.
Overcoming Fear to Get Sober
Overcoming the Top 5 Pre-Sobriety Fears is extremely daunting, but it is possible. Accepting that fear is a natural part of life helps to take away its control. Recognize that the fears you harbor are baseless. Meet the irrationalities with a response founded in logic, instead of emotion. Once you have stripped all of fear’s power, call fear by its true name: nothing.
Here’s An Updated List:
- Sobriety is attainable through your willingness to recover.
- Your personality flourishes in sobriety.
- Life’s nuance and beauty thrive in sobriety.
- Sobriety strengthens your resolve.
- Sobriety offers you fulfilling relationships based on genuine connection and respect.
Medical professionals are ready to offer guidance and aid throughout every step of your individual addiction treatment. The road to recovery may pose challenges for you, but comprehensive drug and alcohol treatment and therapy supplies you with the essential tools to gain and maintain your sobriety.
If you or someone you know needs help, please consult our addiction specialists toll-free at (888) 907-0898. Our team is available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Because We Care.