Courage is not the absence of fear, but the willingness to push forward and make changes in the face of fear. For those with addictions to drugs and alcohol, the thought of giving up mood-altering chemicals is a scary proposition that requires significant courage. However, with the help of addiction professionals, individuals can overcome their fear and negative self-image, accept the limitations of their condition and be encouraged toward positive steps in their recovery.
Overcoming fear and negative self-image can be a struggle for most alcoholics and addicts. Initially, the effects of mood-altering chemicals provided a “solution” that worked quite well in assisting them to nullify their fears—fear of being found out, fear of social situations, fear of being judged by others, fear of failure, fear of responsibility, and fear of the unknown. The thought of giving up this solution can frighten the individual. During my two decades of working with hundreds of addicts and their families, I have come to learn that most suffer from many of these fears to some degree, even if they are not recognized.
As these individuals’ addiction progresses, the most fearful unknown concerns what their life will be like without their single most valued “solution.” This fear is so powerful that addicts will continue to pursue their solution despite the myriad problems it is causing in their life—problems with relationships, their livelihood, their health, the legal system and more. Their level of fear can directly correlate to their level of denial about these problems. The thought of accepting the fact that their solution has now become a problem is simply too frightening.
Addiction professionals can help the addict overcome fear through therapy. Along with the 12-Step philosophy, a variety of therapeutic approaches can help guide the addict on the path to recovery. A group therapy setting can help addicts realize that they are not alone, nor are they the only ones struggling with addiction. Group therapy provides a support system with other individuals who understand and can relate to the struggles.