Recovery Fear

Recovery Fear

The road to recovery can feel daunting for your loved one. They will be facing the fear of both success and failure. They will deal with the anxiety of replacing old habits and the possibility of a relapse. Substance use has been a form of security for them. We must walk with our loved one and take sobriety one moment at a time. This removes anxiety over the unknown, relieving recovery fear. 

  • The AP is dropping their shield of addiction. They will feel vulnerable and overwhelmed by the idea of living sober. We must show them that success is possible. 
  • The AP is also facing the anxiety of letting everyone down. This time is different, they have committed to change and have started the work. We cannot allow fear of failure to creep in. 
  • This is a marathon, not a sprint. Take sobriety one moment at a time. 

Understand Fear of Success and Failure

Most of your loved one’s reactions towards treatment stem from a place of fear. It’s a completely new environment, filled with unfamiliar faces, routines, and conditions. Anyone would be scared!

Try to understand that the AP is afraid of success and failure, simultaneously. At the point of going to rehab, the thought of going a few days without using is unimaginable. Considering a lifetime without drugs or alcohol is beyond comprehension for the AP. After all, they’ve likely engaged in daily use for years and have never been able to stop using for more than a few days. The AP is also losing a reliable friend, one that they turned to when they were happy and when they were sad. Success means giving up their entire way of life.

An AP is also afraid of failure, a return to use would deplete their self-esteem and let their family down. They want to get better, and feel a sense of pressure to prove it to their family. Going back to old ways after all the work that has been done would be disappointing. Your AP is stuck. Both paths look risky, and just continuing with the status quo of using seems easier and safer.

Empathy is a key virtue during intervention, understanding that the responses from your AP come out of a place of fear and are typically shown outwardly as anger. By understanding recovery fear, you can approach them with compassion, imagine how you would have approached the AP as a fearful 12-year-old and bring that same compassion to them today. An old adage from AA is “one day at a time.” Right now, your loved one needs to take it one minute at a time to fully accept treatment.


About Adam Banks

Adam Banks is a certified interventionist and the owner of Adam Banks Recovery. After receiving an MBA from the University of Chicago, Adam built a company acquired by United Health Care. His discipline and attention to detail comes from his former career as an airline pilot, holding an ATP, the FAA’s highest license.

Today, Adam is dedicated to helping others achieve long-term sobriety. His work has guided executives, pilots, and physicians on paths to recovery. Adam brings families together through a loving and inclusive approach. Adam has authored four books on addiction. His recent work, Navigating Recovery Ground School: 12 Lessons to Help Families Navigate Recovery, educates families on the entire intervention process. He also offers a free video course for families considering an intervention for a loved one.

Adam is available for alcohol and drug intervention services in New York, Long Island, the Hamptons as well as nationally and internationally.

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