Anybody in Recovery will tell you, the benefits of living a clean and sober life far outweigh the negatives (if any) that arise from happily being able to pass a drug-screening. But, rewind your perspective back to those last few days amidst the chaos of your addiction, where you are still in the contemplation stage of recovery and unsure if a life of recovery is “right” for you. Working as the Director of Admissions at Evolutions Treatment Center, a popular and innovative drug and alcohol addiction treatment facility, I encounter many struggling addicts and alcoholics reaching the proverbial crossroads of their life. They go left and stay in their addiction; or they go right, venturing into the unfamiliar world of recovery. I have heard many people express with such sincerity, “I don’t know if I’m ready to give this up yet?” My response, often immediately, is “Give what up, exactly?” After moments of feverishly exploring that question, there is usually never a good answer that suffices as a reason to stay in the pits of the self-created hell caused by addiction. All signs of hesitation point to recovery’s greatest contender and preventer…Fear. It's not your average fear of coming across a tiger while walking your dog (everyone has that fear, right?). The fear that presents itself pre-recovery and in early recovery, like most fears, establishes itself deep within the crevices of your thinker. It’s a fear of the unknown. Fear of what lies ahead without the security blanket falsely provided to us by substance use. From a biological point of view, the fear is very real. Once the brain becomes physically dependent on the drug and has learned to correlate it with life’s stressors (positive or negative), the brain begins to believe the body needs these substances to survive. Without them, even after a detox protocol has been completed, the fight or flight mechanism is activated, leaving a person to fear for their life without their drug of choice. Once the brain stabilizes, though, and learns that you will, in fact, survive without the drug, the fear that could once be explained biologically, suddenly becomes a choice. Many of us have heard that ‘Fear’ can be transformed into an acronym that represents two opposite meanings. "Forget Everything And Run" is the first choice; while "Face Everything And Recover" is the second. Will Smith said in After Earth, “Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me danger is very real but fear is a choice.” Despite After Earth being a painfully awful movie, the Fresh Prince does have a great point there.
Let the fear go in early recovery, trust the people who have paved the way that show life gets better and better each day. The Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book states that “we will be rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence…” Allow fear to become trust. Allow fear to become faith. Just don’t allow fear to become reality.
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