10 Fears that Addicts May Have When Seeking Treatment

By: Toshia Humphries, M.Ed., M.A.

When entering drug and alcohol rehabilitation, or rehab, addicts often have many fears. In fact, fear is typically the reason for hesitation to seek treatment. As such, if you’re active in addiction and contemplating change but experiencing seemingly overwhelming fear about the possibility, you’re not alone.

We’ve all been there, to some degree.

In fact, there are common fears every recovering individual typically experienced when going from active addiction or dysfunction to recovering in rehabilitation or therapy. As an adult child of an addict who sought recovery through counseling, I can attest to them. And, for the record, I realize they’re the same ones that kept my mother active in her addiction for so long.

So again, you’re not alone. But, to prevent letting those fears rule you, it’s important to be aware not only of the fears but the debunking facts that squash them.

Fears and the Facts

Fear 1. “Rehab will be like a mental hospital”

Fact: Though rehabilitation occurs in a hospital environment, images of scenes from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest need not apply. However, active addiction is a disease and, as such, it is seen as an illness. Therefore, the idea that you are being treated in a hospital facility for a mental/physical diagnosis is based in fact. But, the fears you may have of being heavily sedated, strapped into a bed or straight jacket and electro-shocked? You can put those to rest.

Fear 2. “I won’t have any friends in there, and I’ll lose all my own.”

Fact: Truth be told, many of the so-called friends you have in active addiction aren’t even friends to themselves, much less you. That may seem like a harsh statement, but if they’re enabling your addiction by providing for, using with or supporting you in it, they are not being true friends. In fact, they likely need help too. And, though you may not have any established friendships within the rehab facility, you will likely make new, healthier connections with people who are on a road to recovery, rather than self-destruction.

Fear 3. “They’ll brainwash me or make me think everything is my fault.”

Fact: Rehabilitation is not about brainwashing individuals. And, for the record, getting sober and joining a recovery community isn’t the same as joining a cult. Though you will probably learn a whole new way of thinking, speaking and being, it will not be an effort to brainwash you or save your soul. Rehabilitation is about saving your life.

As for convincing you that everything is your fault? Well, blame is a deadly habit and though it serves a purpose in active addiction, it doesn’t serve anyone in recovery. As such, you can let that fear go, as well.

Fear 4. “My life won’t improve.”

Fact: Although there are many steps to take in active recovery, the first one is certainly to admit there is a problem. Entering rehab implies you’ve taken that step. From that point forward, your life is already improving.

Fear 5. “I’ll fail.”

Fact: Relapse is a part of recovery. That doesn’t mean you will relapse, nor does it imply you have to. But, if you do, you won’t be seen as a failure. You’ll be seen as an individual who is struggling with the disease of addiction. And, for the record, everyone in recovery who is battling the disease knows to take recovery one day at a time. Why? To prevent getting caught up in the what-ifs of tomorrow. Today, you are entering into rehab. Today, you are successful in your recovery efforts.

Fear 6. “I’ll have to go to church.”

Fact: Though there are faith-based recovery programs, rehabilitation is typically scientific. There may be spiritual aspects included in rehab, but that speaks to the holistic view of treatment for the disease of addiction which includes physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual elements. However, you are not forced to accept any doctrine of faith or attend faith-based gatherings. Again, rehab is about saving your life, not your soul.

Fear 7. “People won’t think I’m cool anymore, and my life will be boring.”

Fact: It may burst your bubble to know this, but active addiction is never cool. More times than not the legend you see as yourself is in your own mind. But, the stories you’ll have of survival and overcoming with regard to recovery will most definitely be cool.

As for your life being boring? No. You will simply start living your life, rather than slowly trying to end it. And, with regard to recovery, your life will only get more exciting because you will finally be able to achieve your true potential, feel your feelings deeply and connect with others, intimately. Recovery doesn’t take you from excitement to boredom. It takes you from numb to alive!

Fear 8. “I’ll lose my identity.”

Fact: Though you will lose what you know to be your identity with regard to that which is related to active addiction, you will not lose yourself. Quite the contrary. In rehab is exactly where you will start to find or rediscover yourself.

Fear 9. “I won’t be able to be myself.”

Fact: Just as the aforementioned fact stated, you will be able to find and begin to be your true self in rehab and recovery, possibly for the first time. And, though you may see only aspects of active addiction as identifiers, there are elements of you—the way you express yourself, books you like, movies you watch, your favorite color, etc.—that are simply you. But, remember, rehab and recovery don’t threaten you. Addiction does. Active addiction steals us from ourselves and those we love. And, as far as rehab is concerned, you can be completely you, as long as you are sober and working on the issues that kept you in active addiction.

Fear 10. “Everything I know will change.”

Fact: Yes. A great deal of what you know will change. That is true. But, with regard to the fear of that fact, it should not be viewed as a negative. When everything you know in active addiction has gotten so bad you are contemplating a change, then change is exactly what you need. Embrace it, and let the winds of change carry you where you need to be.


Author Stages of Recovery

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