When it comes to getting sober, many people have lots of starts and stops. Six years before I got sober for what I hope to be the last time, I quit drinking for a couple months—only to pick up right where I left off. There were many times throughout active addiction that I tried to moderate my substance use, but I always started using again with the same severity.
Addiction causes numerous changes in the brain that make it difficult to stop using. But there’s often a lot of fear involved, too. We’re afraid of getting sober, so we avoid it, which ultimately reinforces our fears.
Adjusting to New Sobriety
It’s understandable to be afraid. Any big life change is scary, and in this case you’re facing it without the coping mechanism you’ve grown accustomed to using. No matter how old you are, it can feel like experiencing the world for the first time, which can be terrifying.
Keep in mind that it won’t always feel this way. It’s hard to believe when you’re in the thick of new sobriety, but as someone who is not far from seven years sober, I can assure you it’s true. New sobriety is an opportunity to take it slow and go easy on yourself. For instance, if the idea of going to a particular event makes you clam up, maybe sit this one out. There will be plenty of other chances to go out once you’ve adjusted to sobriety.
Learning About Recovery and Busting Myths
Many people are afraid their life will become boring or smaller when they get sober. I definitely had this worry, but it couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a cliché, but active addiction really does make your world smaller. You can do so much more with your time when you’re not spending it using or recovering from substances. Your thoughts are freer when they’re not consumed by alcohol or drugs.
Try reading about recovery, listening to podcasts about it, or talking to other sober people. People in recovery are usually willing to listen and share their experiences, even if they don’t know you that well.
Learning about sobriety challenges preconceived notions about the topic. It helps turn a big, scary, abstract concept into a regular, human thing that lots of people have done.
Links Between Substance Use and Fear
According to an article in the journal Learning & Memory, the prelimbic cortex is involved in both drug-seeking behavior and expression of fear. This suggests that what drives fear also triggers substance use. Many people drink or use drugs because they are afraid to face traumas, emotional pain, social anxiety, or any number of other things.
I don’t have to know you to be confident that your life will get better when you’re not in active addiction. While the fear of getting sober is understandable, with time, your life can only improve.
If you are struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder, there is hope. TruHealing Centers offers high-quality treatment for addiction and mental health disorders in facilities across the country. Our staff—many of whom are in recovery themselves—will help you move past fears and find joy in recovery. Call an admissions specialist at 410-593-0005.