fear of getting sober in portland oregon addiction treatment

Substance abuse patients in Portland, Oregon have a lot of the same fears as SUDs patients do all around the world.

When you’ve built your life around drinking or using, getting sober can be downright terrifying

Sometimes it’s the what-ifs that keep folks from pursuing treatment and seeking help. 

What if…

…I become a different person? 

…I can’t hack it being sober? 

…life becomes too overwhelming? 

…I mess it up and relapse? 

…everyone finds out I’m an “addict” or “alcoholic?”

…I am permanently bored?

…I am permanently sad, anxious or uncomfortable? 

…I never shake the obsession with using or drinking?

…I have to deal with all of my feelings in every situation without drinking or using? 

…treatment doesn’t work and I discover I’m a hopeless case?

At Shanti Recovery and Wellness, we’ve heard all of these fears and then some. These thoughts, worries and concerns are a completely normal part of beginning a recovery journey. You are not the first person to think or believe these thoughts and you will not be the last.  

The good news is that it will be OK. We are living at an unprecedented moment in history when we have access to evidence based treatment that works. We have made huge strides in understanding the disease of addiction and we’ve seen hundreds of patients recover and live fun, full and productive lives out from under the control of drugs and alcohol. 

Today, let’s dig into the top 5 fears keeping you stuck and learn why they don’t need to be a barrier to recovery. 

Addiction Treatment Fear #1: “I’m Afraid of Being Labeled”

fear of being labelled an addict in Portland Oregon addiction treatment


Most people don’t enjoy name-calling. People who suffer from Substance Use Disorder (SUD) are no different. 

There are hundreds of slurs used against folks who struggle with SUD. Because we live in a society that stigmatizes addiction, even technically correct clinical terms like “substance user” can feel like an insult. 

There are two important things to highlight about this “labeling issue.” 

The first is this: You get to decide what to call yourself. Naming your problem doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to incorporate it into your identity. For some, identifying as a “person in recovery” or a “person with SUD” or even “addict” or “alcoholic” is a meaningful, even helpful part of the recovery process. For others, it’s not. There’s no “right way” to do recovery. The right way to do it is the way that works for you. 

The second important thing to highlight is that, while you get to decide what labels, if any, you want to use for yourself, it is vitally important that you do personally recognize that you have a problem using whatever language works best for you. If you fail to recognize and name your problem, it’s much more difficult to address it as a problem. While this simple rule is incorporated into many different treatment philosophies, it’s not dogmatic, it’s just practical. You don’t need to share your problem with anyone else – except your doctor or other treatment professional – but you do need to name it and admit it to yourself.

Addiction Treatment Fear #2: “I’ll Lose All My Portland Friends”

fear of losing friends when you get sober in portland oregon addiction treatment


This fear is understandable and not totally unjustified. 

If most or all of your close relationships revolve around substance use, then, yes, you will likely see a significant shift in your social life as you embark on your recovery journey. This will happen naturally but it can also be a smart choice to help maintain your sobriety by severing ties with folks whose behaviors put you at risk of relapse. 

So, in all likelihood, yes, you will need to lose some friends in order to get — and stay — sober. 

What this fear doesn’t address, however, is what you’ll gain. 

When you get sober, many relationships will open to you that were not available to you before. Others will blossom in a way that they could not while you were still actively using. This is especially true if you become active in some part of the recovery community, where you can meet people who are actively pursuing recovery, just like you. 

Addiction Treatment Fear #3: “I’m Afraid I’ll Mess it Up”

fear of failing at getting or staying sober in portland oregon addiction treatment


When you’re worried that you “can’t hack” recovery or that you’ll relapse “just like last time,” what you’re dealing with at some level is a fear of failure. 

When your self esteem has already taken a beating in active addiction, it’s only natural that you would want to avoid any further embarrassment, humiliation or failure. 

The truth is, there is no perfect recovery journey, just as there are no perfect humans on this Earth. Every person who has gone down this path has faltered at one time or another. Nearly everyone who comes into our office for treatment has already tried — and failed — to get sober before. Most have failed multiple times.

At Shanti Recovery and Wellness, we treat people, not perfection. If you’re worried that you’ll “mess up” recovery, you’re in exactly the right place. 

Addiction Treatment Fear #4: “I Won’t Be Able to Deal With Life in Portland Sober”

fear of living life on life's terms while sober in portland oregon addiction treatment


If you’ve been using for a long time, it’s possible that you don’t remember how you got through difficult times without using. If you were a child when you started using (and most patients do begin using as adolescents), it’s possible you never developed alternative coping strategies to get you through difficult times. 

What’s more, many of our patients struggle with mental health issues outside of substance use disorder. It’s extremely common for patients to self-medicate for symptoms of anxiety, depression or PTSD with their substance of choice. When the underlying mental health condition isn’t properly treated, removing substance use from the equation can feel impossible or even dangerous. 

Finally, when you’re struggling with SUD, your brain doesn’t just “crave” drugs or alcohol, it literally associates your substance of choice with survival. When that’s happening, it makes sense that you would feel like you absolutely need your substance of choice to deal with life. Your brain is telling you that you will probably die without it. 

Here’s the truth about this fear: It’s true that you may not be able to deal with life sober right now. But, with proper guidance and treatment, everyone — including you —can LEARN how to deal with life while sober. Sobriety isn’t something you achieve, it is something that you practice. But before you can practice it, it’s something that you must LEARN (or relearn) how to do.

Addiction Treatment Fear #5: “I Don’t Know What Will Happen if I Get Sober” 

fear of the unknown getting sober in portland oregon addiction treatment


Ah, the fear of the unknown. This is perhaps the most profound fear facing humans of all kinds today, including folks who struggle with SUD.

It’s true, your life will change dramatically when you stop allowing drugs and alcohol to call the shots and you can’t predict all the ways it will change when you do.

If you’re thinking about seeking treatment for addiction, you’ve probably already considered the question, “what’s the worst thing that could happen if I got sober?” Maybe this list of sobriety fears has covered some of the possible scenarios you’ve come up with. Maybe there’s other scenarios you’ve considered that we haven’t covered here.

But have you asked yourself, “what is the BEST thing that could happen if I got sober?”

Like any transformation, moving from addiction to recovery involves some loss. But what you get in return — freedom from addiction — is worth every step of the way. 

Ready to Break Free from Addiction? Looking for help in Portland Oregon?  

At Shanti Wellness and Recovery, we work with you to tailor treatment plans to your situation, your goals and your life. Everything we do is evidence based and shame-free. 

Depending on the patient, we can offer MAT medication, nutritional therapy and/or talk therapy in a cozy, family clinic setting. We love to see patients like you succeed and thrive.

Interested to learn more about how we can help? Give us a call today to begin your journey to freedom from addiction!