Debunking Unfounded Fears in Recovery

August 16, 2023 Martyn Armstrong

Recovery from addiction includes fear of the unknown, which creates skewed internal messaging. Challenging these feelings for validity is the best way to uncover their reason. After the haze of alcohol disappears, we face many complicated emotions, and our pesky brain will try to regress into old thinking. This skews whether these assumptions are valid -- all it takes is some self-evaluation to sort out which fears in recovery are false. 

How to Handle Your Unfounded Fears in Recovery

One of the things I remember vividly about my early recovery was the daunting feeling of staring into the abyss. It can get a bit heavy at times because you're often facing many repressed emotions, including overwhelming feelings like guilt and shame, which feel raw. But remaining in the moment without reaching for a bottle was a turning point in addiction recovery for me.

Fear in recovery is the powerful unpinning emotion at play here, and most internal dialog from this position is negative. However, there are some practical steps to try to reduce the noise:

  • Write specific recovery fears down.
  • Review whether they're rational or not.
  • Take corrective action if it's within your control.
  • Make amends with any apologies (if relevant).
  • Conclude any irrational fears by journaling.

I use this checklist to ground myself whenever I feel unusual levels of fear in recovery. It helps me listen to that internal monolog and challenge any unnecessarily high levels of shame that don't fit. Rather than suppressing these feelings, it's easier to allow them to happen, identify them, and sift the fact from fiction for me.

Improve Quality of Life by Challenging Unfounded Fears in Recovery

Another aspect of recovery vital to staying the course is encouraging a healthy relationship with accepting happiness or contentment. Quality of life and addiction studies highlight how your perception links with long-term recovery.1

In a nutshell -- there's a science behind long-term recovery where joy and being content play a significant role. A key component of becoming happier comes from a healthier internal dialog.

I remember an instance where I developed an unsettling fear in early recovery. This question rattled around in various forms -- Will my personality change completely?

I assumed that sobriety was akin to a complete personality and taste shift. Suddenly, this intense, irrational fear of waking up one day with a newfound love of music I loathed, and an urge to watch reality TV plagued me. Worst of all, I feared I would hate the things I loved.

But I soon realized that this wasn't the case. If anything, I felt a renewed and more profound connection with the music and movies I experienced from my drinking days.

This is where I began rewiring some old thought patterns and forged new associations. Therein lies the beauty of recovery. We form new connections with old parts of our lives that work and let go of anything that holds us back.

Writing a New Chapter in Recovery

There are assumptions noted several times in this blog. That's because many unfounded fears surrounding recovery are constructs that we build.

At one time, I couldn't imagine watching a film without a minimum of four cars of beer. Now, I can't imagine needing a beer to watch a movie -- and I can remember it afterward.

The secret to sustainable recovery is finding joy in sobriety and considering yourself worthy of happiness. The best way to debunk the myth of unfounded fears of what recovery entails is to start writing the narrative yourself.


  1. Laudet, A. B. (2011, July 1). The case for considering quality of life in addiction research and Clinical practice. PubMed Central (PMC).

APA Reference
Armstrong, M. (2023, August 16). Debunking Unfounded Fears in Recovery, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 18 from

Author: Martyn Armstrong

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