Recovery Through F.E.A.R.: Sounds Scary, But Doesn’t Have To Be

If you think recovery seems daunting, you're in the good company of everyone else who's ever tried it. It might help to keep a deceptively simple acronym in mind

January 26, 2023
Raised hand with the word Yes on the palm

The prospect of recovery is fairly terrifying for plenty of people when they first face it. Recovery represents monumental change! Change to virtually all your behaviors, thought patterns, routines and relationships! Anyone who’s done it will tell you it requires a big leap of faith, usually combined with a dose of desperation about how things currently are.

The good news is it can be a zero-to-hero change — ditching the old toxic behaviors that were chipping away at the things you hold dear and relaunching toward a life of fulfillment and peace. It sounds corny, but it doesn’t hurt to give yourself a little hope.

Still: A positive outlook does not mean your journey will be free of fear. But, if you think about it, without obstacles in life and fear-inducing propositions, there would be no motivation for you to rise to challenges, and thus no need for forward momentum or growth. So maybe a little fear is healthy.

In some recovery circles, they’ve even turned it into a neat acronym, F.E.A.R. Meaning we have two choices when actively working on sobriety:

  1. “Forget Everything And Run”
  2. “Face Everything And Recover”

Option 1 leads to more of the same, and option 2 leads to a new life of satisfaction and success. Sounds obvious enough, but …

In active addiction, the choice is often clouded by substance use. In recovery, the choice is all yours. Pain or healing? Losing more or standing to gain everything? Shackles or freedom? So, which will you choose?

Broke: ‘Forgetting Everything and Running’

As you may have been told, and hopefully will internalize, addiction is not your fault. You are not some sort of villain who needs to be shunned. You are a sick person who needs to get well. The medical and psychological community recognizes addiction as a disease, so it’s important to remember that as you move forward on the path of recovery.

There is an old saying that sometimes comes up in 12-step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA) that goes, “Given the choice between using and the potential of prison, institutions or death, or quitting and living a life beyond your wildest dreams, only the [person suffering addiction] would stop to think about it.”

That’s not because the person struggling with addiction doesn’t know the obvious answer. It is because substance use has completely distorted their way of thinking. The default setting in addiction is to forget everything and run because substance use has rewired our thinking.

Twelve-steppers also refer to a thing called “a built-in forgetter.” When you have one, the idea goes, that’s addiction trying to make you forget how toxic your substance use is or how bad it has gotten. (It’s also normal for this tendency — to question how bad things really were — to continue in recovery.)

Addiction wants us to keep one thing above all else. That one thing is continuing our addiction.

Woke: ‘Facing Everything and Recovering’

Take heart, though: There are positive steps you can take to help you get away from active addiction and launch a new way of life. Recognizing — or “admitting,” if you prefer — you have a problem is a start.

This is the “facing” part, the “F” in the “good” F.E.A.R. When you can admit to yourself that your addiction has eroded so much of what’s worthwhile in life, then you can begin to take the next steps toward recovery.

It is crucial to remember that these moments of realization can be fleeting when you’re using, so action is key when life gives you that opportunity. There are online resources that can help you get the support you need. (All Sober would be one!)

You may also require some medical help — like detoxification — so it is highly recommended to consult a health care provider before you go sober.

There’s no need to be fearful of this. These medical professionals have seen it all. Millions of people deal with addiction. It’s actually quite common to find that pros in the recovery field once struggled with addiction themselves, and that’s what motivated them to start on their career path. These professionals are here to help, not judge.

The next step, after you’ve stabilized yourself physically, is to find the right path for continued recovery. This can make the difference between going back to old behaviors and relaunching your life for the better.

Bespoke: Figuring Out the Right Path for Your Recovery

In today’s world, there are so many choices when it comes to finding what works best for you in recovery.

Online tools can guide you to inpatient or outpatient care, or to the appropriate individual or group therapy you may need. You might take a shine to holistic and physical wellness programs that can empower your mind and body.

Group therapy, recovery support groups and counseling can connect you with others who understand your situation because they’ve gone through the same struggles. These people — peers, new friends, a sponsor — can help you out in times of doubt and keep you accountable when your built-in forgetter goes off.

Make the Call: You Deserve To Get Your Damn Life Back

Ultimately, the choice is yours to make. Will you keep living the same destructive life that feels like a constant cycle of toxicity? Or will you advocate for yourself and relaunch your life for the better?

It feels like a big change, but that’s because it’s important. And it’s certainly not beyond your abilities to make it: Again, millions of people have done it. There is help available; you just need to ask. Why delay?

More Help & Information

Auguste Rodin, The Thinker

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