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What Fears do Alcoholics Have About Rehab?

People live with addiction for years. Sometimes even decades. As bad as it is, this suffering becomes habitual and accumulates a lot of inertia. Breaking a habit, even a destructive habit, is difficult. Replacing a habit with something completely different—like sobriety—can be terrifying.

Common Fears Alcoholics Have About Going to Rehab

Alcoholics may have a lot of fears about going to rehab. However, there’s everything to gain from going to rehab.

Scared to Go Through Withdrawal

Going “cold turkey” is never a good idea. When someone is alcohol dependent and quits drinking abruptly, there’s a shock to the brain and body. This leads to painful and intense withdrawal symptoms that can be dangerous.

But no one has to go through that. Medically managed detox ensures a person stays safe and relatively comfortable during detoxification.

In medically managed detox, a person experiences a safe, controlled withdrawal, with healthcare professionals present 24/7 to monitor and support them. Medical detox also provides medications that reduce or even eliminate painful withdrawal symptoms.

Unsure of What Happens in Rehab

The image of rehab in mass media and film can be very contradictory, with some facilities appearing cold, sterile, and uncaring while other representations look like luxury spas. Contacting rehab centers or visiting their websites can give a person seeking recovery a better idea of how a particular facility approaches getting clean and sober.

Financial Stress / Losing Career

A person with alcohol use disorder may be concerned about the expenses involved with rehab. However, most rehabilitation facilities accept a wide variety of commercial insurance and may also accept government reimbursement sources, like Medicaid.

The Family and Medical Leave Act prohibits employers from firing employees for seeking rehab services. In addition, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) allows an individual to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid work to manage health or family concerns without fear of termination.

Fear of Failure

Going into rehab requires a person to push past their comfort zone—even if their comfort zone is miserable. The unknown can generate countless what-ifs, like “What if I can’t stay sober?” “What if I’m beyond helping?” The fear of failure is typically due to anxiety, which will decrease once a person begins their recovery program.

Fear of Success

Fear of success is often driven by low self-esteem and a feeling of being undeserving of recovery. Others fear success in recovery because it will require a great deal of change, including big lifestyle changes. It’s not uncommon for fear of success to lead to self-sabotaging behaviors.

Afraid of What Other People Might Think

You deserve a healthy and satisfying life. Although you may worry about what others think, most people are glad you’re getting help to get well. Remember, rehab is about you and your health. It’s not about looking good or bad in the eyes of others.

Consider, too, that if people in your life judge you harshly for making decisions to take good care of yourself, it might be time to re-evaluate those relationships.

Lack of Time

Everyone is busy and has a full slate of activities, and it may seem impossible to be absent from them. But here’s something to consider. If you’re considering rehabilitation for alcohol use disorder, you’re already at a high risk of losing a lot more time than rehab takes.

Alcohol use disorder is a progressive condition that only worsens unless it’s halted through recovery. It will consume every moment and displace every activity until there’s no time for anything but alcohol. Getting into recovery by going to rehab is a time-tested way to stop alcohol abuse from stealing all the time from your life.

I’m Not Like Other “Drug Addicts”

We understand that everyone has a unique personal context. There’s no such thing as a “garden variety drug addict” or a “typical alcoholic.” One thing about people with alcohol and addiction problems is the tremendous commonality and support among people who also endure addiction. By going to rehab, you become part of a community that offers unrivaled support in a challenging time.

Fear of Being Miserable Sober

Alcoholism is all-consuming. It takes the place of everything in an alcoholic’s life, including the ability to enjoy anything but alcohol. Many people seeking recovery have trouble imagining a life without the people, places, and things they once spent their time and money on.

In rehab, you can re-discover healthy motivations, interests, and activities you enjoy.

Fear of Relapse

It’s normal to be afraid of a relapse. In fact, relapse is a common part of the recovery process. A high percentage of people will relapse at least once on their recovery journey. The key to overcoming a relapse is understanding that it’s an opportunity to fine-tune one’s recovery program and look at what’s working and not working as well as it needs to be. Remember that most people who relapse still get into recovery.

If alcohol consumption has led to significant interpersonal consequences, you may be struggling with an alcohol-related disorder. If you are unsure whether inpatient treatment is the best option for you, call us, and we will help you determine what treatment option would benefit your unique case the most. For more information on our program for alcohol addiction recovery in New Jersey, give us a call today.


1. Newman RK, Stobart Gallagher MA, Gomez AE. Alcohol Withdrawal. In: StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; 2022. Accessed January 15, 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441882/
2. Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) | U.S. Department of Labor. Accessed January 15, 2023. https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/benefits-leave/fmla
3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Treatment and Recovery. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published July 2020. Accessed January 15, 2023. https://nida.nih.gov/publications/drugs-brains-behavior-science-addiction/treatment-recovery

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At Absolute Awakenings, we take information integrity seriously. We have dedicated our resources to ensure that all content published to our blog is medically sound. As such, all content on our blog has been thoroughly reviewed by a doctorate level clinician such as a Medical Doctor, or Psy.D, so that you can trust all of the data we publish.

About the Author

Picture of Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

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