Fear: A Major Factor in Addiction

girl in fear

It may not seem like it to a person who has never been addicted, but fear is a big reason that the addicted stay addicted. The continuous presence of fear is a big part of what keeps them locked in their addictions.

When they are high, they don’t feel any fear. They feel confident, relaxed, happy, hopeful, even magnanimous. They may feel they can take on any challenge, even if this is a complete illusion. They may be mellow, euphoric.

When they come down from that high, all the problems and fears they wish to avoid are going to come crashing down on them. That’s a pretty powerful motivation to continue using the drug they’re addicted to.

But a little more of the cocaine, heroin, pain pills or marijuana makes the fears go away. Jamie Lee Curtis described the way life’s discomfort can be relieved when she talked about her past addiction to painkillers: “Morphine becomes the warm bath from which to escape painful reality.”

Pain and Loss Go Hand in Hand with Fear

woman experiencing loss

One of the most common phenomena to occur when a person becomes addicted is loss. The addicted person very commonly loses his family, his job or business, his income and financial resources, his personal prestige, and self-respect. His friends leave, to be replaced by drug-using associates. As he loses more and more, the drugs he’s addicted to keep the fears of further losses away.

The family sees the losses occur. As his condition worsens, so do their worries. What will happen when he hits rock bottom? Will he find death at the bottom? Will he be homeless? Will he overdose? The whole family’s efforts are dedicated to trying to preserve the person’s life, to bring him back to hope and life.

Finding lasting relief from fear is not something that happens overnight. But it can happen, I have seen it happen many, many times as people go through the Narconon rehab program. It takes gaining the skills to live a life that makes you happy. It takes accumulating small wins that give one confidence. This is the way a person comes out of fear and into a real life, one that won’t be torn down by a momentary loss or criticism.

A good portion of the Narconon program is dedicated to teaching the life skills that enable a person to gain confidence – real confidence that is not based on a drug. When a person’s family welcomes him back home and sees that he can communicate honestly once again, that he can be productive and can start accumulating gains and wins instead of suffering fears and losses, they can breathe a sigh of great relief. They know they have their loved one back again.



Sue Birkenshaw

Sue has worked in the addiction field with the Narconon network for three decades. She has developed and administered drug prevention programs worldwide and worked with numerous drug rehabilitation centers over the years. Sue is also a fine artist and painter, who enjoys traveling the world which continues to provide unlimited inspiration for her work. You can follow Sue on Twitter, or connect with her on LinkedIn.