Are You Afraid of Getting Sober?
Using drugs or alcohol on a daily basis is not just a habit; it’s a lifestyle.
Imagining life without the constant chase of sustaining a buzz is difficult.
The truth is, you’ve been using drugs and/or alcohol as a way to escape for so long that now the idea of reality, normality, is frightening. How can you return to a life where you just wake up without the worry of wondering how and when you are going to use?
In other words, long-term substance abuse often leads to a fear of sobriety. Consider the following eight fears that may be holding you back from getting sober.
1. I’ll lose my friends.
It is definitely the case that when you stop using a substance, you will lose the tribe that came along with the substance. But you won’t lose your real friends. In fact, getting sober can be an excellent test of friendship, weeding out those who enjoyed your company only when you were both high/drunk.
2. My life will be boring.
You’ve dedicated your time to a life revolving around getting high/ drunk or preparing to make sure you have a substance to get high/ drunk on later. Your life has been about monitoring how high you are. Are you high enough? Is it time to get more? It’s no wonder that when you think about sobriety, you see a blank space, and the question of how to fill that blank space is most likely worrisome.
The truth is, however, that you have forgotten how to live—how to actually live. Once you clear away the false premise that life is about being disconnected from it, you are suddenly a kid again. Even just the simple things gain a new sparkle when you get sober because you are free from the weight of an addiction ruling your every move.
3. I’ll become boring.
Because you have spent so much time under the influence of substance, you associate your identity with the substance, and you have forgotten that underneath it all lies a unique individual. You may have drowned her out for some time, but once sobriety takes hold, she will burst forth with new energy ready to take on new hobbies and try new things. I remember believing that if I got clean, that I would lose my creativity, but that’s not the case at all. It took some time, but now my creativity is stoked with clarity.
4. I’ll most likely fail at sobriety anyway because I don’t have the discipline.
This belief is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You have the power to do anything. Sobriety is a choice, not an achievement. It’s not about never doing the drug again. As long as you believe that not using a substance takes a great deal of willpower, you will remain powerless. Not using a substance is a conscious decision—not an act of resistance. By realigning your perspective, you realize that not using a substance isn’t a force of will—it’s just a decision. You can always change your mind.
5. I’ll lose my coping mechanism.
No matter how much you want to get sober, there still remains the reason that led you to picking up the substance in the first place. In many cases, anxiety, stress, trauma, and pain are reasons that led you to using a substance to cope. The truth is, though, that the substance never helped you cope; it only created an illusion of coping. It’s a method to avoid and detach. If you want to cope, focus on nutrition and exercise. Rebuild your support system. Stop believing in a false coping mechanism.
6. People will judge me.
People are going to judge you no matter what. If you think stepping into sobriety is going to give people something to talk about, let them talk. It’s better to get that over with. In today’s world of social media, there is so much information flying around that talk about you can’t last forever. In the end, you will find out who your real friends are. Not to mention, talk is cheap; it doesn’t matter what people say. This is your life, not theirs.
I remember the first few months after I quit using, I stared into the mirror and couldn’t see past the idea of how I believed others perceived me. I chopped off my hair, bleached it, tried to alter my appearance, so that I could look at the face of someone I didn’t recognize. After a while, that exterior slid away, and I began to recognize the real me, and I could hold onto that.
The point is, you have no control over what people think about you. Even if you had never made a mistake, rumors would still fly.
7. I can’t stand the idea of being in “recovery” forever.
Join the crowd. I only recently started using the term “recovery.” The problem with labels is that they inherently don’t mean anything. Not using a substance anymore doesn’t have to mean that you are now in “recovery.” You can choose to define yourself in whatever way you feel best fits. In my experience, labels do more damage than good. Addict.
8. I have no idea what to expect.
This is the truth. Life is unpredictable—that’s what makes it beautiful. At any time, you can decide to switch lanes and let the light in.
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