Addicts can often be stubborn individuals, fighting change and showing resistance to new situations that come our way. For the outsider looking in, it seems crazy for the addict to show hesitation when it comes to a fresh start at life.
Looking back at the months leading up to my sobriety, I had definitely reached a bottom; physically, and emotionally. So what was the hold up? Any family member or friend of an addict can tell you, the process to getting sober can be a battle where it feels like the addict is fighting for their own destruction and spitting in the face of common sense. In my case, the hesitation came from my fear of change, the toxic codependent relationship I was in, and the fact that I was lazy and comfortable in my addiction.
Fear of Getting Sober
Fear is a common theme in any addict’s life. Fear of responsibility, fear of what others think about you and perhaps most importantly, fear of discomfort. In active addiction, a central motive in our self-medicating behavior is to avoid any form of pain, be it emotional or physical. So for an addict, getting sober represents removing a well-known and certain solution and replacing it with a possibility. This can be a scary proposition to face, and especially for someone that has been drinking or using for a period of time. The initial step towards recovery can be a terrifying one. The fear of an uncertain change has to be overcome in order for progress to be made.
Now, as anyone that has put together some time in recovery will tell you, what lies on the other side of that frightening change is immensely rewarding – the pain that underlies the drinking and using begins to heal through the recovery process, and ultimately the addict is experiences emotional freedom.
Another impediment to my sobriety was the toxic, co-dependent relationship that I was “locked into” while I was using. Unhealthy relationships are coming among addicts, and I was with someone who used and drank the way that I did – we complimented each other well in that sense! Walking away from that was as scary as leaving the drugs and the alcohol to me. The deep sense of insecurity that she helped to cover up was something that I had run from my entire life. The problem was, as long as I had her to fix and focus on, I was not able or willing to look at myself and my own issues.
Deep down, a part of me knew that getting sober could also mean losing the girl because of her equal dependence on drugs and alcohol. What I came to find in sobriety though, was the ability to get right with myself and become comfortable in my own skin without needing a girl or a drug to make me feel ok.
Not Experiencing Consequences
Sitting in one’s addiction can also be comfortable. Addicts like what is familiar, and once you become accustomed to being miserable, it doesn’t seem that terrible. The insanity of addiction doesn’t seem insane when you’re the one living in it. Even though to everyone around you, it looks like a dismal way of life. I needed sufficient motivation to do something different.
While my parents were paying for my apartment and sending me an allowance for food, I wasn’t uncomfortable enough to change. I had to experience the cable being turned off, and having to choose between food and cheap vodka, before the idea of getting help started to sound feasible. Realistically, if my family had still supported me financially and I had the capability to continue drinking and using without sacrificing my quality of life, I would not have gotten sober. I needed the discomfort of having no money and impending eviction before I had enough motivation to try something new and gained the willingness to step outside of my comfort zone.
Getting sober is a scary and uncomfortable idea in active addiction, but the rewards on the other side are tremendous. If you or a loved one is struggling with that initial hurdle, remember that recovery offers a freedom that can’t be experienced in active addiction. If you have any experience with getting sober and the challenges you faced coming to that decision, leave us a comment and share them with us below!