Many of us do things that are irrational. For example, why is it that those of us with food allergies often have cravings for the very foods we are allergic to? Or why is it that we are more attracted to people who are not attracted to us? Some of the things we do simply don’t make sense on paper. For example, a question so many of us who have used substances have asked: “Why am I afraid to be healthy?”
Fear of the Unknown
To the objective observer, someone in substance use recovery should be doing everything they can to be healthy. Let’s face it, substance use can make our lives pretty messy. However, many of us have never known what healthy is. Not in our jobs, our relationships, or with ourselves. Not only can healthy seem like an unreachable destination, but it can also seem completely alien to us.
Perhaps we have watched other people or families enjoy relationships that are healthier than ours. That does not mean that we have any idea how to replicate these relationships. Many of us grew up in dysfunction or crisis, and it is literally all that we know. The idea of changing that is absolutely frightening.
Fear of Change
Change can be exciting, or it can be very terrifying. When it comes to our lives, especially our relationship with ourselves, as well as our lifestyle, habits, and basically everything that we know, it is not unusual to experience a lot of fear around changing that.
The antidote to this fear, of course, is that we also fear the path we are currently on. We don’t like our lives the way they are, and we may be able to see things that could actually get worse if we continue in our substance use. The real question is which fear wins in this scenario?
Fear of Accountability
Being healthy means being accountable for what we do. If that is not scary, then what is? Substance use changes how our brains function and part of the function in addiction is for us to protect our substance use. That means the opposite of accountability when it comes to substance use. Our brains will use every possible mechanism we have to avoid being accountable. This one may go beyond fear.
What our brains won’t tell us is that by being accountable, we also become trustworthy. Not only to co-workers, friends, and family but also to ourselves. Accountability helps us to be healthy, which is actually self-serving, as it means our brains will likely live longer and function better, too.
Fear of Loss
Maybe it sounds silly to fear the loss of substance use, but this fear is founded in experiences and emotions that have been a big part of our lives. Substance use is often social, and we have plenty of nostalgic memories, even if there are also painful ones. When we choose to seek treatment and our friends or even family members don’t, sometimes, we have to say goodbye to those relationships, too, in order to be healthy. That is a lot of loss, and very difficult to face, especially all at once.
However, at the same time, our fear of loss can prevent us from seeing what we have to gain. We can create new relationships and new memories, without as much pain. We can find relationships that are based on us as a person rather than just substances and the associated activities. Being healthy can be scary, but there are some things that are actually good for us to lose, especially when there is so much to gain.
Fear of Success
The most seemingly irrational fear that can keep us from being healthy is the fear of success. What if I succeed at recovery? That may sound counter-intuitive, but it can be tied to many other fears. For example, success and failure are inextricably linked: if we succeed, then we may also at some point fail. Failure hurts more the farther we fall, so if we never succeed, we’ll hurt less… unless we don’t fail at all.
There are a lot of reasons people fear success, but fearing to successfully become healthy can prevent us from having what we secretly want most: a healthy life. The real trick to all of these fears is to face our fears and make the choices that we know we need to make to be healthy.
It doesn’t matter whether the fears we have surrounding treatment for substance use are rational or irrational. What matters is that we are allowing fears to stand in the way of being healthy. If being healthy is something we have thought about, or something we know we really want, then we should not allow fear of any kind to stop us.
Beginning a recovery journey can be very frightening. And that is okay. When we start to take down the roadblocks that are our fears, we can begin to see the road ahead of us, and maybe even the destination. When we are willing to overcome our fears, we are rewarded with health in our recovery.
Face your fears of treatment for substance use. Find out exactly why you are so afraid to be healthy by calling AToN Center at (888) 535-1516. We can help you work through your fears and become healthy in the process. Let us guide you on your path of recovery.