Avoiding Fear in the Early Stages of Recovery
What to Expect in Addiction Recovery
After you go to addiction treatment and are no longer using drugs or alcohol, it is considered the recovery phase.
While making it to the point of recovery is cause for celebration, it can also be a time of fear and anxiety.
By learning more about what to expect after addiction treatment and recovery, you can prepare for challenges.
You can start to find ways to avoid triggers and become a thriving part of your family and community.
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What is Recovery?
Addiction is considered a chronic and sometimes relapsing disease.
It is also considered treatable.
Since addiction is a chronic disease, there is no cure.
Even so, you can successfully manage addiction.
During treatment, the goal is to overcome the effects of addiction on the brain.
Then in doing that, you can regain control of your behavior and your life.
Recovery itself is a general term that can look different for everyone.
By learning that recovery is a personal journey, you can take away some of the fear.
Stages of Recovery
The following are some of the general stages of recovery that may happen after addiction treatment.
- Treatment initiation is the stage of recovery when you reach out for help from a treatment program. The earliest days of recovery can be difficult. You start to work on changing your attitude and how you view your substance use. Whether you are forced into treatment or begin voluntarily, treatment initiation remains the first stage of recovery.
- Early abstinence is the second stage of recovery. During early abstinence, you may be going through withdrawal and cravings. It is crucial to avoid high-risk or triggering situations because the risk of relapse is high. Avoiding triggers is one reason residential rehab works well. It can help you avoid triggering situations in a safe and supportive environment. You start to focus on engaging in healthy activities and finding alternatives to rely on instead of drugs or alcohol.
- Stage three of recovery is maintaining abstinence, which happens around 90 days of ongoing sobriety. If you began treatment in a residential program, you might then move into outpatient or follow-up care. The goal of this stage is recognizing relapse warning signs and avoiding them. You can learn coping skills and create tools to help you prevent relapse.
- Advanced recovery happens around five years after you stopped drinking or using drugs. At this time, you are focused on having a fulfilling life. You have relationships with people who do not drink or use drugs, follow a schedule, and have long-term goals.
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Dealing With Fear in Recovery
You are most likely to experience fear in the earliest stages of recovery. You are giving up many things. You are not just giving up substances. You may be giving up relationships with people who use substances, and you are going through many changes.
You have to deal with your emotions while you are sober, and you can no longer hide from fear with substance use.
Facing your emotions is challenging.
Fear is a distressing emotion, and you may experience fear because of a real or perceived threat.
Common fears people in recovery experience include:
- The fear they will no longer enjoy their life—this fear is prominent in early sobriety. You may think you cannot feel happiness or excitement without substances.
- Sobriety will require too much work and effort.
- You are going into something unknown.
- You might fear how you will deal with challenges in life without the crutch of drugs or alcohol.
- There is a fear of failure.
- You may have concerns about relationships, finances, or your career.
Interestingly, some people fear doing well after they stop using substances when it comes to fear in recovery.
You may be accustomed to your life with substances that you do not know how to succeed in relationships or your career. You might not understand what it would be like to be a happy, sober person. It is outside of the realm of your identity. It is not always the fear of negative things that worries newly sober people.
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The Risks of Being Afraid in Recovery
While some fear and apprehension are normal, it is important to get a hold of it.
Unchecked fears can lead to inaction and, consequently, relapse.
Too much fear can affect your decision-making, causing stress that diminishes your mental and physical health.
You might use fear as a way to justify a relapse, and you might not feel satisfied in your recovery.
Some of the things you can do to overcome fear in sobriety include:
- Create a list of things that you know are triggers for you. Then, with each trigger, create specific ways to cope with those situations when they arise. Writing things down can make you more accountable and give you a specific plan to follow when facing challenges.
- Have a plan for coping with stress. Stress and fear are often closely related to one another. When you are experiencing stress, define specific steps to handle it productively. For example, maybe you practice mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation will help you look at your stress and fears more objectively and get into the present moment.
- Keep up with your aftercare plan. When you are in addiction treatment, your team of providers should create an aftercare plan for you. The plan may include ongoing therapy and participation in support groups. Make sure you commit to your plan.
- Support groups, like 12-step programs, are one of the best resources you have in recovery, so make attendance a priority. A 12-step program or another type of recovery support group can help you find a network of people with shared experiences. It can keep you accountable and give you an outlet when you have fear or are worried you might relapse. If you participate in a 12-step group, think about connecting with a sponsor.
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Action Towards Recovery
The more you progress in your recovery, the less fear you are likely to feel.
It takes time, and when you are just out of addiction treatment, you are on shaky ground in many ways.
Over time, with work and dedication, you will become more confident in your sobriety.
That confidence can then help you become less fearful.
If you are ready to make a change in your life and discover what recovery might mean for you, contact Resurgence.
We are a licensed treatment provider offering different rehab programs, including detox, residential treatment, and outpatient programs.
Our team uses personalized and evidence-based approaches to treatment.
We pair that with compassion and a human connection.
Call us today.
We can tell you more about treatment programs, help you find the right one for you, and verify your insurance coverage.