The Fear Factor
People are afraid of all sorts of different things.
Spiders. Heights. Ghosts. Public speaking. The dark. Thunderstorms. The list goes on and on and on.
But among the more common fears is fear of the unknown. That particular fear can affect our decision of whether or not to seek treatment for a substance use disorder. You might be fully aware that you need help—you may even be eager to get that help—but a fear of engaging with healthcare and recovery services may be intimidating because you don’t have a full picture of what those things might entail.
That is an entirely understandable fear. But it is essential that you find a way to overcome that fear so that you can get the help you need and begin a new life of sobriety.
We are here to help.
First Step: Get Informed
There is so much information—and misinformation—about substance use disorders and treatment options out in the world. A quick internet search will provide you with more links to more information than you can possibly absorb. So you’ll want to focus on reliable sources of information.
For example, if you are considering pursuing treatment for a substance use disorder, an honest conversation with your parents or your doctor would be an excellent place to start. People who care about you should be able to help you consider various options and connect you to trustworthy resources.
If you decide to look for more information online, turn to reputable sources. Options include mentalhealth.gov, samhsa.gov, and other similar sites. The links you find at sites ending in .gov are likely reliable with information provided by legitimate experts in their fields.
In addition, you can find clear, reliable information throughout our website, where we tackle many questions people have about issues relating to substance use disorders, detox and rehab, and long-term recovery.
Second Step: Get Support
Sometimes a substance use disorder can lead to strained relationships and a sense of isolation. But if you are considering treatment, you will need a support system—people you can talk with when you are struggling or afraid during treatment and beyond. That support system may include family or close friends.
As you go through rehab, that support system may grow to include, for example, individuals with whom you share group therapy sessions. And once your time in residential treatment is completed, you’ll be able to explore a range of support group options online or near your home.
The key here is that you don’t have to face your fears—or the challenges of recovery—alone. In fact, you shouldn’t try to do so. Remember what happens every time a group splits up in a scary movie? The lesson is clear: when you are dealing with something that frightens you, it is always best to stick together.
Third Step: Get Calmer
Sometimes our fears are rational. Other times they are driven by an overall sense of anxiety—up to and including anxiety-centered mental health disorders. This generalized anxiety can contribute to our fear of the unknown and stand in our way when we are trying to convince ourselves to get help for a substance use disorder. Because of this, it is important to have a strategy for dealing with feelings of anxiety.
Perhaps you are already in therapy for anxiety issues or have been prescribed an anti-anxiety drug. If not, a conversation with your doctor about your feelings of anxiety is in order. Of course, you will want to be honest about your substance use disorder so that your physician can make an informed decision about whether to recommend medication.
There are many other ways to address anxiety as well. Among the most helpful may be the practice of mindfulness, which encourages us to live in the present moment rather than wallowing in the past or worrying about the future. You may be able to find mindfulness courses in your community; there are also many online resources (ranging from free apps to those requiring a subscription) to help you start practicing mindfulness on your own.
In addition, exercise, good nutrition, sleep hygiene, journaling, engaging in a new and engrossing hobby, volunteering, and more are all strategies that can help lessen feelings of anxiety and prevent them from fueling the fear that may be keeping you from getting the help you need. Continuing to focus on some or all of these practices once you have completed rehab is an excellent way to fend off a relapse as well.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out to Us for Help
We get it. It can be extremely difficult to take that first step into the unknown—even when you know that step is a step in the right direction. At The Pines, we will do everything we can to address your fears and help you feel at ease. We understand that asking for help can be scary. But we also know that we can help you move past that fear so that you can experience a life of lasting sobriety. When you are ready to take that first step, we hope you will reach out to us.