When I first started hanging out with people from Alcoholics Anonymous, I heard a lot of sayings and phrases that made absolutely no sense to me. People in the program are famous for these mottos. One thing I heard a lot was “I’m fear’ed up about that” or “I’m acting out of fear.” I didn’t really understand why fear was such a prevalent part of an alcoholic or drug addict’s life.
However, when I think back to active addiction, I realized that most of my using and drinking was fear based. I was afraid to face certain situations in my past or present, and I used drugs and alcohol to diminish that fear. Fear of social situations, fear caused by past trauma, fear of facing life on life’s terms- these were all fears that I dealt with on a daily basis by doing drugs and drinking. Many alcoholics and drug addicts were programmed to react to life from fear, negativity, scarcity, and lack. As a result, the disease of addiction focuses on and magnifies fear – and then it scrambles around trying to find something to cover up and repress the very fear it is generating. The disease blows the fear way out of proportion and then leads us to addictive behavior as a way of stuffing the fear.
The thing is drugs and alcohol were my solution to my feelings of fear. When I got sober, those feelings of fear began to surface, and I had to find a spiritual solution.
Fear in and of itself is not a negative emotion. It is a basic survival mechanism occurring in response to a specific stimulus, such as pain or the threat of danger. Fear is the ability to recognize danger. Fear becomes a problem when it becomes exaggerated or unbalanced. Fear can become a controlling factor in a person’s life. For addicts and alcoholics in early recovery, this is very common.
I came to realize I was fearful in certain areas of my life because I hadn’t completely turned my will over to a higher power. I was willing to trust my higher power with certain aspects of my life, like relieving me of my obsession with drugs and alcohol, but not in other aspects, like my love life or financial situation.
A passage in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous has helped me to bring God into all areas of my life. It states: “. . . either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t. What was our choice to be?” (4th ed., p. 53) To me this meant that I either trusted God to be in control of all parts of my life, or I couldn’t trust him in any part of my life. Once I started believing that everything would happen exactly the way that it should as long as I trusted it to God, my fear began to abate. There will always be situations that send me into that state of fear, but as long as I have a strong spiritual connection, I can work through those situations.
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