Common Fears in Early Recovery

The early stages of recovery can exciting…and also terrifying. While you work hard to put your addiction behind you, doubt and uncertainty can take up considerable space in your mind. Allowing fear into the recovery process can undermine your progress if you allow it to happen. In order to allow you the chance to grow in your recovery, you must understand the common fears faced by those early in the recovery process.

Fear of Sobriety

Perhaps the biggest fear in early recovery is sobriety itself. Without the familiar crutches of drugs and/or alcohol, you may feel awkward and inadequate. You may feel that sobriety will make you boring and that no one will want to be around you. Will your hard work pay off, or will you slide back into active addiction? While these fears are understandable, realize that recovery is a process. Instead of running away from it, embrace recovery. Go to rehab, enter a support group and take the steps necessary to work an individual program of recovery. The work will be worth it, because you are worth it.


You may be ready and willing to do whatever it takes to become sober, the fear of failure is always near. You may be working your program to the best of your ability, yet you may feel it isn’t enough. You may feel you are falling short of your goals, or that recovery isn’t coming fast enough. If you happen to relapse, you may feel that you may never find recovery. 

When you have those thoughts, you must remind yourself that you are human. If you fall short in reaching a goal, don’t stew in pity. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and learn from your mistakes. It may sound strange but making mistakes can actually make your stronger and have more resolve.

Being Afraid of Success?

Believe it or not, you may also fear actually being successful in sobriety. These feelings stem from deep-seated beliefs that you don’t deserve recovery. These feelings may be the result of past trauma or the stigma attached to addiction. As a result, you may not give fully of yourself to working a program of recovery. 

If you feel this way…STOP. Don’t obsess over what happened in the past or what may happen in the future. Focus your energies on the here and now. When you feel fear creep into your mind, simply acknowledge its presence and BREATHE. You will find those feelings disappear in a short amount of time.

Fear of Losing Yourself

When you leave addiction behind, you may feel that you are leaving your soul and whole identity behind. While your self-image as an addict is not pretty, you nevertheless cling on to that identity because it is all you know. As you start getting clean and sober, you may feel lost as to who you really are in this world.

Recovery is a time to rediscover yourself. As your progress in early recovery, revisit old hobbies and pastimes you once enjoyed. Have the courage to try new things. Volunteer, become a mentor and find new passions to explore. Not only are you strengthening your sobriety, you are redefining who you are and becoming more enriched as a person. 

Fear is normal in recovery. While it is easy to become paralyzed with fear, you aren’t alone. Early recovery is the time to seek out help from counselors, peers and your family and friends. Those who care about you the most will give you the support and encouragement you need to become the person you want to become. 

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