UCE Addictions Ministry
December 10 Agenda
The Bear, The Fire, And The Snow - Poem by Shel Silverstein
'I live in fear of the snow,' said the bear.
'Whenever it's here, be sure I'll be there.
Oh, the pain and the cold,
when one's bearish and old.
I live in fear of the snow.'
'I live in fear of the fire,' said the snow.
'Whenever it comes then it's time I must go.
with its yellow lick flames
leaping higher and higher,
I live in fear of the fire.'
'I live in fear of the river,' said the fire.
'It can drown all my flames anytime it desires,
and the thought of the wet
makes me sputter and shiver.
I live in fear of the river.'
'I live in fear of the bear,' said the river.
'It can lap me right up, don't you know?'
While a mile away
you can hear the bear say,
'I live in fear of the snow.'
Welcome to the UCE Addictions Ministry Group. We are a group of people who have
struggled with our own addictions and the addictions of others. We hope to struggle well
together as we work towards finding sanity, peace, love, and healthy relationships in our
lives. We will strive to spend our time together in a spirit of love embracing the inherent
worth and dignity of all. We accept and respect the varied paths that our members will
take to find sanity, peace, love, and healthy relationships. We covenant to to be together
in a confidential, safe environment where we can explore our paths and our stories.
6 Common Fears in Addiction Recovery – and How to Face Them
Fear is normal at every stage of recovery. Everyone enters rehab with some trepidation, even if they’ve been in and out of treatment for years. Likewise, most people leave rehab full of worry. What will happen when they leave the one place they know they can stay sober? How will they cope when the feelings they’ve been medicating come flooding back?
When you think about how the average person responds to a horror movie or passing a traffic accident, it is clear that, in some cases, fear actually draws us in rather than repelling us. Fear makes us alert to danger; it helps guide our decision-making process. But too much fear can be paralyzing in life and, in addiction recovery, can be a precursor to relapse. Here are some of the fears common among people in recovery, along with suggestions for facing them:
#1 Fear of Sobriety
Getting sober means replacing your primary coping mechanism – drugs and alcohol – with new, unfamiliar ones. The process can be uncomfortable, particularly for someone who is afraid of feeling in general. Will all of the hard work be worth it? Will sobriety be boring, sustainable? Staying stuck in this fear generally means staying stuck in addiction.
What to Do: Nelson Mandela said, “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Rather than running from it, feel the fear and then take one step forward anyway – go to rehab, meet with a therapist or attend a support group where other people in recovery share their success stories. Once you try it, you may find that sobriety is not as scary as you once thought.
#2 Fear of Failure
Whether you have one day sober or 10 years, recovery presents challenges. There are times when you’ll doubt yourself and get pushed outside of your comfort zone. There are times when you will fall short of a goal. At this point, you can either conclude that you don’t deserve it or have what it takes, or you can try again.
What to Do: Many addicts are perfectionists who have difficulty accepting mistakes and taking strategic risks. True, about half of recovering addicts relapse at some point. But the other half doesn’t, and if you relapse and learn from it, you haven’t failed at all. Others have succeeded in spite of fear, and so can you. According to the Partnership at Drugfree.org, more than 23 million people in the U.S. have recovered from drug and alcohol problems.
#3 Fear of Success
The flipside of the fear of failure is the fear of success. Most people don’t consciously self-sabotage, but they have a deeply held belief that they don’t deserve to succeed and, in so believing, never really put forth their best effort. Feeling doomed from the start, many allow self-doubt and fears of what others think to keep them from trying.
What to Do: Fear is an emotion that is based on something we cannot control: the future. Instead of fretting over what might be, practice being mindful of the present. Feel the fear and breathe through it without resisting it or trying to change it – and then notice how the fear begins to dissipate.
#4 Fear of Rejection
Worried that they may be abandoned by the people they love or judged by others, some people refuse to admit that they have a drug problem or reach out to others for support. Yet without taking these steps, there can be no recovery.
What to Do: Fear of rejection can be overcome by pushing yourself to work a recovery program even when you don’t want to. Attend sober social gatherings, lean on family members and talk to people at support group meetings. Research shows that the simple act of putting your fears into words taps into the parts of the brain responsible for logic and emotional regulation, decreasing fear and anxiety.
#5 Fear of Losing Your Identity
After months or years of being fixated on drugs and alcohol, who are you if you aren’t an addict? What are your hopes, desires and values? These are some of the most difficult questions in recovery, and the answers may change over time.
What to Do: In recovery, you have a unique opportunity to redefine yourself. Spend some time thinking back to who you were before you started using drugs and revisit old interests. Also try something new, such as volunteering or taking a class, so you have a chance to develop new passions. Each of these steps will not only help you maintain your sobriety, but also move you closer to the ultimate goal of figuring out who you are.
#6 Fear of Perpetual Misery
Lurking in the minds of most recovering addicts is the question: What if I do the hard work of recovery and am still miserable? After drugs flood the brain with dopamine, some people find it difficult to feel pleasure from normally enjoyable activities. Others get clean and sober only to find that they still feel angry and depressed. Also known as “dry drunk,” these individuals erroneously believe that getting sober is where the hard work ends.
What to Do: Some of the damage inflicted by prolonged drug use will be repaired the longer you stay sober. Just as important as stopping the use of all mood-altering substances is actively engaging in a program of recovery. Only by investing in yourself and your relationships can life in recovery be truly joyful.
David Sack, M.D., is board certified in psychiatry, addiction psychiatry and addiction medicine. He is CEO of Elements Behavioral Health, a network of mental health and addiction treatment centers that includes Promises, The Ranch, The Recovery Place, The Sexual Recovery Institute, Right Step, Clarity Way, Journey Healing Centers and Lucida Treatment Center.
Fear - The Attachment to Time
All fear is, in essence, fear of the future. We are afraid of the things that have not yet happened, but which if they did might bring us pain, suffering or some other discomfort - or stand in the way of some future contentment. And we are afraid that circumstances that are already causing us displeasure may continue in the future.
We may fear losing our jobs and the resulting drop in living standards. We may fear failure for the disapproval it might bring. We may fear having nothing to do because we might get bored. We may fear telling the truth because others may not like us for it. We fear the unknown for the dangers it may bring. We fear uncertainty, not knowing whether or not we will find what we are after. Here lies a sad irony. We want to be happy and at peace with ourselves. Yet the very nature of fear makes us anxious in the present and not at peace. Many of our fears are not so strong that we would label them as fears. They may be just concerns, little niggles we have about how things may turn out. They may not even be conscious concerns - in many cases they surface only in our dreams, in conversation with a friend, or after a couple of drinks. Nevertheless they fill our minds with thoughts.
This is the voice within our heads that comments, often critically, on everything we do. It thinks, "I did that well, people will approve of me", or "If only I had said it differently she would not have got upset". It is the voice that speculates on the future, "Should I make that telephone call... what if...?" It wonders what other people are thinking and how they will react. It is the voice of fear, the voice of the ego-mind - the part of us that believes that only through what happens to us in the world around can we be at peace within. But filling our minds with worry over what people might or might not think is not the most constructive use we can make of our imagination.
This internal dialogue keeps us trapped in time - it dwells on the past or the future. As long as our attention is in the past or future, we are not experiencing things as they are, we are seeing them through the judgments of the past and our fears for the future. At times we can be so caught up in our self-talk that we do not even notice the present. We ignore what is going on around us, do not really hear what people are saying, do not appreciate how we really feel. So engrossed are we in our concerns that we never seem to pause to let things be. We have lost the present moment - lost the NOW.
This moment is all that exists. This fleeting instant is the only reality. The past is gone forever. The future is not yet born.
Your body is in the NOW. But if you're like most people, your mind is in the past or in the future. You grieve or glory over events of long ago. You harbor resentments and guilt and shame - hangovers from the past. You think of what you should have said or might have been. You fear and fantasize over the future, you worry about every moment of wasted time. You worry about death, not having enough time to achieve your ambitions, the end of your ego. All of which cuts you off from the present like a dark screen.
If you bring the mind from miles away to the activity of the moment, if you abate the clatter in your head to focus on the physical reality surrounding your body, and the sensations from within it, you'll gradually experience a surprising sense of well-being. Indeed, tuning in to the NOW is one gateway to perceiving eternity. The philosopher Wittgenstein observed: "If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, the eternal life belongs to those who live in the present". By experiencing a moment for itself, you stop time. Time is defined as the interval between two events. When you are in the NOW there is no interval, only the event alone.
The concept of the NOW has great validity when dealing with emotions and the senses. NOW is a point at which you are in touch with the ongoing process. Past and future take their bearings continuously from the present and must be related to it. Without reference to the present they become meaningless.
(there Is Nothing Really Ever To Fear) - Poem by Allen Steble
Fear is regression
regression is pain
pain turns sweet sunshine into bitter rain
take my hand my dear
for there is nothing to fear
Fear is anguish
anguish is sorrow
sorrow is but a deep hole so hollow
let this not be the end of me
hold me tight and set me free
oh embrace me so close, so near
for there is nothing really ever to fear
Fear is destruction
destruction is chaos
chaos is a cynical and unruly boss
that can become your suppressive master
do not let fear take control
of the every corner of your innocent soul
Take my hand oh my dear
hold me so very near
for there is nothing that we should ever fear!