How Fear Fuels Addiction

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Fear and Addiction - The Hills

Across the United States, countless families have tried as best they can to help a friend or addicted loved one get the necessary treatment they need to recover. Often those efforts are ignored or turned down for reasons nobody can understand. Unfortunately, those struggling with an addiction to drugs or alcohol are often unable to see their condition for what it is. Also, even when they do see it, they are afraid of what treatment looks like and sometimes even scared to get well. To the rational person, the fear addicts face when considering treatment and recovery may seem unreasonable. However, this fear is genuine. This fear prevents some from seeking addiction recovery help and others from taking full advantage of the support they eventually do accept. However, if we learn to overcome fear, then we can truly overcome addiction and live more fulfilling lives.

Defining Fear

Addiction recovery can bring about many emotions, but the most common emotion people experience with addiction is fear. The idea of giving up the substance that has become such a prominent part of their life leads to many unknowns. The potential for adverse outcomes is what often causes fear in people facing addiction recovery. While fear can have adverse impacts on the addiction recovery process, managing fear in recovery is possible with healthy coping mechanisms.

We all know fear when we feel it. How do you put fear into words? Fear ranges from feelings of uneasiness to complete and utter terror and anxiety. Fear can cause panic and stress. Fear can relate to your concerns about the future or events from the past. It is an emotion that causes distress over the possibility of pain, danger, or other adverse outcomes to a situation. Fear can be triggered by threats that are real or imagined. When someone struggling with addiction begins to contemplate recovery, they often feel fear over potentially being miserable without drugs. That is an imagined threat. Their minds create a scenario that could happen, and the brain runs with that thought, leaving them fearful about what the future without substances may look like.

Connecting Fear and Addiction

Fear often arises as part of addiction when you think about treatment and recovery or during those moments when you are not under the influence of your substance of choice. You may worry about running out of drugs or alcohol, or you may worry about how you will cope without your preferred substance. You may also worry about losing things such as loved ones, friends, your job, or money. Alcohol or drug use provides a sense of familiarity. For someone who has been using for a long time, it feels normal even if it isn’t healthy or normal to other people. Substance abuse may help you escape negative feelings. It may provide a false sense of happiness during dark times period; therefore, when you stop using, the security blanket is removed and can leave you with many negative emotions.

Despite the possible adverse effects of substance abuse itself, the fear of what could happen during treatment and in recovery is often more overwhelming. For many, the mere thought of facing life without the help of drugs or alcohol is terrifying. When people use drugs or alcohol to cope, they understand what to expect when they drink or do drugs, but they have no idea what to expect from treatment and recovery.

How Fear Negatively Affects Addiction Treatment

A certain amount of fear can be beneficial in some circumstances. Fear can also provide motivation to make necessary changes. The problem arises when fear becomes overwhelming or interferes with your progress during treatment or in recovery. At that point, fear can have adverse effects on addiction recovery and interfere with your decision-making process causing adverse feelings and potentially leading to avoiding treatment altogether. It is essential to manage fear as you enter a treatment program to prevent some of the following negative effects.

Failure to Act

Fear, when not adequately managed, can become paralyzing. It could make it nearly impossible to move forward or make decisions about rehab or anything else in your life, for that matter. If you let your fears convince you that rehab is not the best option, it may result in a refusal to take steps to recovery based on those emotions. This failure to act delays in getting essential addiction treatment. Also, waiting to enter addiction treatment puts you at greater risk of experiencing life-altering events such as an overdose or medical problems.

Poor Decision-Making

Feelings of fear often interfere with good decision making. As drugs and alcohol already cloud judgment, adding fear into the mix can interfere with your ability to make the positive decisions necessary to guide you on the road to recovery.


Overwhelming fear can lead to increased stress levels. This elevated stress can affect one’s physical and mental health while disrupting recovery.

Lack of Happiness

Fear stands in the way of one’s ability to find happiness and pleasure in life. While addiction is a severe illness, it should not inhibit your ability to find happiness. Constant fear surrounding the recovery process does not allow room for positive emotions needed to help with recovery success.

Common Causes of Fear in Addiction

The specific cause of fear in people dealing with addiction will vary from person to person. While one may fear a particular aspect of the recovery process, someone else may experience fears and worries that inhibit their ability to seek rebab at an inpatient rehab center like The Hills in Los Angeles, CA. Pinpointing the cause of your fear can help you to address it head-on and result in your ability to effectively overcome the fear and ultimately succeed in treatment. Below are some of the most common fears people experience when considering treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.


Recovery can sometimes feel lonely. Often, people who enter treatment at The Hills may have to cut ties with friends who continue to use. Sometimes you may feel alone and wonder if friends or family will abandon you. Perhaps, and most significantly, people worry about giving up the one thing that has been solid in their lives until now-their substance of choice. Consequently, many may continue to use to avoid these feelings of loneliness.


When someone knows they need help, they often fear the reactions of their friends and loved ones. You may hesitate to tell anyone or open up about your addiction out of fear that those you talk to may turn their backs on you instead of providing essential support.


After spending so much time under the influence of substances, the idea of sobriety can instill fear in many. Some people may feel life without substances may be unsatisfying. Others may worry about how they will deal with triggers and emotional situations when their primary coping mechanism is gone.


Failure is a significant concern for many people who enter treatment. What happens if you try treatment and fail? What happens if you succeed? What happens if you make it through and relapse? These are all valid concerns for many as they struggle to determine whether rehab should be their next step.

Ways to Manage Fear During Addiction Treatment

Recognizing your fears related to addiction treatment is the first step towards managing it. When you confront your fears about addiction recovery, you take away the power it has. Fear is a normal reaction to your situation and nothing to be ashamed of or hide from those helping you in your recovery. It is essential to work with your treatment providers at The Hills in Los Angeles to learn how to overcome those overwhelming fears so you can move forward with treatment.

Find the Cause

Now is the time to take a moment to analyze your fears so you might learn exactly what is causing them. Once you know why you are scared, you can work to dispel the fears and begin on a clear path to recovery.

Share Your Fears

Many people keep their fears close as we do not want others to know what we are afraid of. But doing this can make the fears feel worse and even more insurmountable. Reaching out to a close friend or loved one to discuss how you are feeling can help make fears feel more manageable. If you are not comfortable verbalizing your fears, try writing about them. Putting fear into words can provide clarity and a better understanding of their cause.

Build Relationships

Time away from addiction can provide a means for strengthening the relationships in your life, especially those who are supportive of your recovery. Stronger, closer relationships with like-minded friends and loved ones can help you meet and conqueror your fears. In conjunction with building relationships, the early days of rehab may necessitate distancing yourself from those who feed your fears or who are not supportive of your progress in your addiction program. As painful as it can be to leave friendships behind, it is essential to focus on healthy relationships with those most interested in increasing your chances of success.

Focus on the Now

Fear is frequently rooted in the future, and therefore you spend a lot of time focusing on things that have not happened or may not ever happen. Addiction treatment and recovery are best approached one day at a time as opposed to looking down the road at the “what ifs.” Instead of looking to the future for things that may not happen, focus on what is happening right now. This will help you identify the steps you need to take right now to start down the road to recovery.

While it may be the very thing that is causing your fears, addiction treatment can actually help put those feelings to rest. At a rehab program like The Hills in Los Angeles, you can confront your addiction and the fears surrounding it. Also, you get the built-in support system provided by your treatment team and the others sharing the treatment experience with you. As part of an individually designed treatment plan at The Hills, you will participate in therapy and activities designed to address your specific addiction, fears, and concerns. Sessions with your therapist allow you the opportunity to talk about your fears and address them. Don’t let fear control another day. With the help of the team at The Hills, you can take control of your fears and start down the path to addiction recovery.

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