By Alanna Hilbink

Recovery is good. Getting there is tough, but you can do it and it is more than worth it. So why is sobriety so scary? It involves change and unknowns, and we all like to have answers. We all like to be comfortable.

Man holding lamp in darkBut being comfortable isn’t necessarily good. In an article in Psychology Today Dr. Susan Noonan explains, “When you are immersed in an illness like depression or bipolar disorder for a long time, the illness causes you to have a view of yourself and adopt certain behaviors that then become familiar. It becomes a sense of ‘normal,’ where you know how to do ‘that.’ Feeling ‘good’ is new and different and may feel uncomfortable at first.”1

Addiction is a mental health issue like depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. When you’re in it, a happy and healthy life may seem far away. What do you do without drugs or alcohol? How do you go to work, hang out with friends and interact with others? How do you interact with yourself? Before you let your fears keep you from a drug-free life, lets address them.

I’m Afraid I’ll Change My Mind

You’ve probably been here or at least close to here before: ready and determined to quit. You may have even talked to family or called a therapist or treatment program. You may have attempted to quit on your own, but then you changed your mind or relapsed. So why will this time be any different? How do you stay in the mindset you’re in right now, aware of just how sick and tired you are of this addicted life?

Ambivalence about recovery is common, but it doesn’t have to set you back. A variety of specific therapies can help you keep moving forward. For example, talk with your therapist or treatment team about Motivational Interviewing. This, and similar practices help you plan your own personal goals and create a healthy mindset for recovery.

According to a study in the British Journal of General Practice, “Motivational Interviewing is a particular way of helping clients recognize and do something about their current or potential problems. It is viewed as being particularly useful for clients who are reluctant to change or who are ambivalent about changing their behavior … The overall goal is to increase the client’s intrinsic motivation so that change arises from within rather than being imposed from without.”2

Motivational Interviewing is an empowering mode of therapy that focuses on one’s internal desire to get well, and it’s just one of many options you have when it comes to staying focused and determined in your recovery.

I’m Afraid I Can’t Do It

If you’ve tried to get sober before, fears about changing your mind are probably closely followed by fears of failure. Even if you’ve never tried, you may hesitate to take the first steps because you’re worried about the last steps. If this is the case, you may find it helpful to talk to people in recovery.

Attending a support group meeting or talking to program alumni may be an encouraging step for you.

Meeting people who have weeks, months and years of recovery and learning that they were probably just as unsure and scared as you when they began can be empowering to you. Dr. Noonan in Psychology Today shares, “If you can make it to five years of sobriety, your chance of relapse is less than 15 percent.”3 Talk to people in recovery to gain some perspective on how they built years sobriety one day at a time.

I’m Afraid I Won’t Know What to Do Once I’m Sober

Talking with other people in recovery lets you know you can get started even if you’re afraid. It also lets you know that recovery is worth it. Right now, you may be afraid of a sober life. Addiction currently feels like your everything. It tells you what to do and when to do it. It tells you who to hang out with and how you should feel. While you’re tired of what it’s telling you, you may worry about what you’ll do once it stops.

Recovery is an opportunity. You can rediscover — or finally discover — the things you’re interested in and passionate about. Your treatment team will help you try new hobbies and activities. You can go back to school and pursue a dream career. You can build relationships and friendships through true support and shared interests other than drugs. You will have the time and energy to be you — the you you’ve always wanted to be or never got the chance to know.

I’m Just Afraid

You don’t have to know exactly why you’re afraid or what you’re afraid of. That’s OK. You don’t have to have all of the answers when you begin your recovery journey. Treatment will teach you how to be yourself. This will take change. You’ll have to change habits, how you approach life and how you think about and react to it. This is an opportunity to discover things about yourself you may not have realized. The challenges you face in recovery are opportunities to push through your fear in a safe and supportive environment.

Ending the Fear of Sobriety

Worried about addiction, treatment or sobriety? Give us a call. Pride understands that recovery can be overwhelming, and that’s why we’re here to walk you through it. We’ll help you find your healthy, happy, sober life.


1 Noonan, Susan. “Fear of Recovery.” Psychology Today. 31 Aug. 2016. Accessed 3 Mar. 2018.

2 Rubak, Sune, et al. “Motivational Interviewing: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” British Journal of General Practice. 1 Apr. 2005. Accessed 22 Mar. 2018.

3 Manejwala, Omar. “How Often Do Long-Term Sober Alcoholics and Addicts Relapse?Psychology Today. 13 Feb. 2014. Accessed 22 Mar. 2018.