Beyond Fear: Why the Thought of Getting Sober Feels So Scary

Scared to get sober

The thought of getting sober petrified me, so I continued drinking for a long time to avoid a horrifying unknown. How would I live without alcohol?  

I couldn’t imagine life without it and I was convinced that my life would be over if I gave it up. But that’s what being addicted to a substance will tell you — that it’s impossible to live without. I truly believed that, so I put off getting sober for a long time. 

I was convinced that everything I’d do in the future would require alcohol, and there was no shortage of things on the horizon I would need it for — weddings, holidays, concerts, weekends, travel. If only I could get all that behind me, then I’d get sober. But the funny thing is, life never stops happening. There were no breaks in the calendar nor a magical cave I could crawl into and come out of at a more convenient time, cured. So I couldn’t use the calendar as an excuse forever. But that wasn’t the only thing holding me back.

I was terrified of withdrawal. My drinking was chronic, and having suffered withdrawal on countless post-bender occasions, I believed sobering up would be painful. I was scared of the anxiety that I thought I’d face. I also knew that withdrawal was risky, and I could possibly have a seizure or potentially die if I withdrew on my own. So I continued drinking as a “safety precaution” to stave off those dangers. 

The thought of never drinking again scared me, too, and I knew that my life would drastically change. Who would I be without alcohol? What if my marriage falls apart? Will I never have fun again? I tortured myself with never-ending questions, prophesying doom and a life devoid of any meaning or fun sans alcohol.

However, when I finally hit my bottom and had to change (or die), most of the doom and gloom I forecasted about sobriety never came true. While there were some difficult days early on in my recovery, sobriety turned out to be nothing like I imagined. It was better than I imagined. 

Just because I think something, doesn’t mean it’s going to actually happen. When I approached my sobriety one day at a time, it felt easier to manage. I tried not to think about tomorrow, because tomorrow wasn’t here yet. I ate the proverbial elephant one bite at a time, and with that approach, sobriety didn’t feel so insurmountable. All I had to do was get my head on the pillow each night, sober. 

When I was active in my addiction, I thought that drinking was making my life easier, and it wasn’t until I got sober that I realized I was living life on hard-mode. All the horror I forecasted was purely imaginary. That doesn’t mean that getting sober hasn’t been without difficulty, but it’s far better than I imagined. Turns out I’m not psychic and despite my fear and bleak imagination, my life got better. That’s something I didn’t envision when I put the drink down, but as it turned out, sobriety was nothing to be afraid of. I just had to walk out of the woods I walked into. 

What fears were holding you back from getting sober? Share in the comments! 


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