How to Cope With the Fear of Detox

How to Cope With the Fear of Detox

Detox is usually the first step in any treatment and recovery program and can often serve as a deterrent for many. Most programs require that you go through the detox process in order to participate in rehabilitation programming. Detox is important because it allows your body to reset and reap all of the benefits the treatment can provide.

Some hesitancy or concern regarding the detox process is understandable. It can be a difficult process for many. Detox often symbolizes the first step to changing their life. They know that once they walk through those doors, they will not be able to access the substances they have become so dependent on. While this is a good thing, it can be intimidating.

What Is Detox?

Detox is the process of cleansing your body of all toxins, or in this case, substances, to allow for healing. This process can vary in duration depending on the substances used, how frequently, and for how long.

Detox addresses withdrawal symptoms and can help you cope and remain as comfortable as possible as your body learns to function without substances. Withdrawal symptoms can be pretty significant depending on the type of substance, frequency, and duration. In fact, experiencing withdrawal can often lead people to continue using to ease the symptoms.

While going through detox, you’ll be monitored closely to ensure you are safe and responding well. Symptoms will be managed safely and in a way that supports your path to sobriety. In many cases, pharmacological treatments are used to help cope with severe symptoms and avoid shock.

Why Detox Is Important

In order for you to benefit from all treatment has to offer, you must begin with a clean slate. Getting your body back to baseline, if you will, allows you to re-focus your mental and physical energy and prioritize recovery.

It would be very difficult to focus on participating in therapy, health and wellness groups, and other important activities during the treatment process if you are struggling with withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to address these needs before beginning treatment so that you are most likely to benefit from the program.

Fears of Detox

Being afraid of the detox process is common. If you have experienced withdrawal symptoms before, you will likely want to avoid these at all costs. As mentioned, symptoms can be so severe that you might prefer to continue using to cope with the pain that you experience during withdrawal.

It is important to consider the long-term goal, however. The sooner you go through detox and begin treatment, the sooner you can begin healing. The benefit to going through a safe detoxification process over trying to detox at home would be the level of care and support you can receive. Choosing a facility that offers a calming and soothing healing environment along with 24/7 observation and care can help you get through it.

Choosing the Best Facility

Because detox can often be a deterrent for many when it comes to seeking help, it is important to consider the type of treatment facility and environment that might work best for you. For example, choosing a treatment facility that takes a holistic approach to healing and provides a calming and supportive detox environment can make the process and transition into treatment a little more comfortable.

Just as person-centered and individualized treatment is important, so is individualized detox. Some may have more than one addiction that needs to be addressed during the detox phase. Selecting a facility that prioritizes tailored detox and treatment programs is your best bet.

After Detox

Even following detox you may continue to experience some unpleasant symptoms such as anxiety, symptoms of depression, trouble sleeping, etc. However, it’s important to remember that the opportunities following detox are endless. This is where the real healing begins, and your new lifestyle can begin to develop.

Many begin treatment immediately following detox to ensure there is no time for potential relapse or distraction. This is the model used by most facilities. Depending on your treatment plan established at intake, you may be transitioned to residential living, or you may be on track to begin outpatient therapy. At Enlightened Solutions Detox, counselors will review your individualized program steps and details with you at the appropriate time.

After detox, you will have a clearer mind and cleansed body, and you can begin to consider what might be next for your life. You will start feeling better both physically and mentally and can take full advantage of what treatment has to offer. Overcoming your fears of detox allows you to move forward and begin your recovery journey.

Detox is the first step toward treatment and is a very important process. Many fear detox and allow this to serve as a barrier to seeking treatment. Don't let the fear of detox keep you from getting the help you need. At Enlightened Solutions, we provide a safe and supportive environment for the detox process and aim to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Following detox, you will have the opportunity to meet with counselors to review program steps and create a treatment plan. Let us help you recover from your addiction and begin healing physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, we can help. Detox can be scary, but we will help and support you every step of the way. Give Enlightened Solutions a call today at (833) 801-LIVE.


Coping with Fear in Addiction Recovery

Coping with Fear in Addiction Recovery

There are opportunities for fear at every stage of addiction and recovery. You might say that addiction is primarily characterized by fear—fear that something will prevent you from drinking or using drugs. However, you may also fear admitting you have a problem, asking for help, entering treatment, leaving treatment, and so on. While many of these fears are common, they can also stand in the way of progress. The following are some ways you can cope with fear and keep it from preventing you from doing what you have to do.

The Difference Between Fear and Anxiety

Fear and anxiety are closely related, but they aren’t the same. They even feel similar physically. The difference is that anxiety tends to be more general and open-ended—perhaps with the exception of phobias—whereas fear tends to be more specific. So, for example, if you have social anxiety disorder, you may constantly worry that you’ll be confronted with some kind of social situation and when you inevitably do find yourself in such a situation, you may worry that you’ll behave foolishly or that people will judge you harshly. It’s a fear that’s just always on.

Many of the fears you will encounter in recovery have a different sort of character, although it’s possible that you will have to deal with anxiety issues, as well. Fears are more concrete. They’re about specific things you know you’ll have to do at some point. For example, you might feel afraid to go to your first 12-Step meeting or, if you’re working the steps, you might be afraid to contact a particular person about making amends. Of course, you can put these things off indefinitely, but that will slow or halt your progress in recovery, possibly contribute to your anxiety, and make you less able to cope with fears in the future. On the other hand, the more you are willing to confront your fears, the faster you will progress and the less fearful you’ll be overall.

Start by Acknowledging and Accepting Fear

Many of us reflexively try to deny, suppress, or avoid fear. We don’t like it, so we try to put it out of our minds. What’s more, we don’t like to think of ourselves as afraid. So we might rationalize and tell ourselves things like, “I’m not afraid to do it; I just don’t see the point.”

The first step in coping with fear is to be honest about what you’re feeling. Instead of trying to evade or rationalize, just admit—at least to yourself—that the reason you don’t want to do something is that you’re afraid. Then you can begin to deal with it. Research shows that people who are more accepting of their emotions tend to have better mental health and suffer fewer consequences from negative emotions. [https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3045747/] There’s no shame in admitting you’re afraid. Everyone is afraid sometimes. Admitting it will make it easier to do something about it.

Observe Fear Without Judgment

As part of acknowledging and accepting fear, try observing your fear nonjudgmentally. Where do you feel it in your body? How intense is it? What thoughts are associated with it? What is it about the thing you fear that really bothers you? If you are able to sit with the fear and watch how it changes with your thoughts, you can learn something about it and you gradually become less reactive to fear. Having a regular mindfulness meditation practice can help make this easier.

Challenge Fearful Thinking

Most of the situations you face in recovery aren’t actually dangerous. Maybe the one exception is detoxing from certain drugs. In other words, nothing you face in recovery is likely to harm or kill you. It’s not like seeing a tiger in the wild or standing too near the edge of a cliff, where your body is sending you a clear and accurate danger signal. Instead, your fear is probably rooted in your thinking about whatever situation you are facing. Therefore, you can use many of the same strategies cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, might prescribe for dealing with other challenging emotions.

For example, maybe you’re afraid to reach out to someone you need to make amends to. Usually, the worst that could happen is that they tell you to get lost or call you some nasty names. That’s not so bad in the scheme of things, but you may have some distorted beliefs that make that outcome seem unbearable. Maybe, deep down, you believe something like, “I must be loved and respected by everyone,” and the thought that someone you care about might tell you to get lost when you’re trying so hard to be good is just unbearable. In reality, it’s not unbearable; that’s just how it is sometimes. If you can train yourself to identify and challenge your faulty assumptions, you can make most situations seem less threatening.

Focus on Your Values

Another way to get past fear and do what you need to do is to focus on your values, or why you want to do this in the first place. As Nietzsche said, “He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.” For example, many people decide to get sober because they see what their addiction is doing to their family. Staying in touch with that value can also help you overcome the other hurdles along the way. It’s the big reward that makes our effort and risk worthwhile. This is the basis of a form of therapy called acceptance and commitment therapy, or ACT. The idea is we don’t try to abolish fear, but rather we learn to act in spite of fear when something is really important.

Seek Social Support

Finally, seek social support because everything is easier when you have backup. Are you afraid to go to your first 12-Step meeting? Find a friend to go with you. Are you afraid of going to your first family Christmas after treatment? Bring a friend. Just having a support network, like a 12-Step group, where you can discuss your fears makes you more able to move forward. You feel more assured that you’re doing the right thing, more emotional support, and more resources to fall back on if necessary.

Fear is perfectly normal and unavoidable in recovery and in life. The important thing is not to let fear keep you from living the kind of life you want to live. Start by acknowledging and accepting fear and observing it without judgment. Examine its underlying causes and ask yourself whether there is really anything inherently dangerous in the situation you’re facing. Use your values and social support to help you move forward in the face of fear.

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that learning to tolerate and manage challenging emotions like fear is one of the most important elements of a successful recovery from addiction. That’s why we incorporate methods like dialectical behavioral therapy and mindfulness meditation into our holistic treatment program. For more information, call us today at 833-801-5483 or explore our website.


Fears of a Sober Life

Fears of a Sober Life

Not everyone enters the sober life confidently. If you have been an alcoholic or addicted to drugs for years, it may be hard for you to picture your life without it. By knowing what your fears are towards entering a sober lifestyle, you will realize those fears are only in your head and that sobriety can turn your life around for the better.

Willpower

One fear you may have is that you do not have the willpower to stop substance abuse. You are afraid that if you try recovery, you will fail. Failure is a big fear for everyone whether you abuse substances or you do not. Instead of thinking hard about what will happen if you fail, think more about what will happen if you do not try. If you do not try, your money will continue to run out, your health will decline, your relationships will continue to be torn, and you will continue to be a person that no one will recognize anymore. The worst that can happen during sobriety is that you relapse. But if you relapse, just remind yourself how normal it is and continue on with your treatment. Lean on to your sponsor, friends, and family.

Dislike For Sobriety

A second fear can be that you are afraid you will not like sobriety. You were always used to having drugs or alcohol in your hands and spending all of your free time doing drugs. Without it, you have no idea how to fill up that time and will feel like you are suffering. We tend to fear the unknown. We cannot see what our future will be like and are used to a routine. The truth is that you should instead walk into a sobriety lifestyle with a positive attitude. Do not assume that you will hate it before you have even tried it.

Being Boring

A third fear is being afraid that you will see yourself as boring as well as your friends. Drinking and drugs tend to make us think we are more fun as we have lost our inhibitions. We just do and say what instantly comes to our minds without thinking. It is called “liquid courage” as the substance gives you the courage to be outgoing. Loss of inhibition, though, is not considered a good thing as many bad things can happen to you. You can end up saying something that hurts someone’s feelings, sleeping with strangers, using up your entire savings, or end up intoxicated behind the wheel. It is never boring to be safe and healthy. You will actually be more fun to be around knowing that intoxication from substances cannot limit you. You can fully enjoy everything and people can have fun around someone who is thinking straight.

A Boring Life

A fourth fear is that no drugs or alcohol will make your life boring. Life with drugs and alcohol have made you feel sick and made your life more complicated. Without it, you have unlimited energy to do all of the things you want to do. You can do anything you want and still have fun without drugs or alcohol. You can go to a movie, a carnival, go traveling, play sports, and more that will make you smile. Think about all of the money you will have now that used to always be spent on drugs and alcohol. Now, it can be used to fund a vacation or buy presents for the people who have been there for you through this journey.

Coping Mechanisms

You started drinking or doing drugs most likely as a way of coping with trauma or problems that you did not want to face. A fifth fear is not knowing how to cope anymore without drugs or alcohol. Pain is scary to experience. But, one benefit of pain is that it is a reminder that you need to get help. Drugs and alcohol may seem to make you feel better about your inner trauma, but can actually make you feel worse. This is what causes you to abuse substances more so that the effects would be greater. Instead of relying on drugs or alcohol to help, rely on your therapist and other helpful methods that you learned in treatment. Learning healthy coping skills will teach you how to turn your sadness into happiness so you can be in good spirits around your social circle.

Losing Friends

A sixth fear is that your friends will no longer be around you when you are sober. You are scared that they used to think of you as fun when you were intoxicated and that you will have no friends left after. Your true friends will support your recovery. They will not force you to go back to old habits. If they do, these are people that you need to cut out of your life. Being sober will allow you to make lasting friendships that are real. 

Everything Will Be Different

A seventh fear is that your life will be so much different without drugs or alcohol and you are not prepared for it. Yes, your life will be different, but it will be so much better. Be excited about entering into treatment. Your life of hangovers and guilt will be over. By choosing to have a sober life, you have a better chance of having a positive and beneficial life with your loved ones.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


Exposure Response Prevention for Dealing with Fear

Exposure Response Prevention for Dealing with Fear

Fear is a common factor in addiction, depression, anxiety, and anxiety disorders like OCD. How we deal with our fear is a major contributor to these issues. We often have a hard time facing our fears head on and instead use our addictive behaviors and thought patterns as means of escape. To confront our fears, we can use a technique called Exposure Response Prevention, or ERP.

To really benefit from ERP, we can start by figuring out what our fears actually are. Common fears many of us share are fears of abandonment, failure, inadequacy and inferiority, fears of being replaced, betrayed, hurt or violated, fear of loss, fear of being alone. As we do some soul searching and go beneath the surface of our symptoms, we become more conscious of our fears and fear responses.

ERP is a relatively simple exercise, but it can bring up intense emotions, so you may want to do it with a therapist or other supportive person. With ERP we expose ourselves to our triggering fear and then prevent our usual go-to responses such as our compulsions and addictive behaviors. This requires willpower and the determination not to engage in our usual fear response coping mechanisms. ERP is essentially a meditation on our fears, and just like with any form of meditation, it is practicing over time that yields the most results. You might feel an immediate change in your thoughts and emotions, but for continued healing, keep practicing.

Let’s use a common anxiety-inducing thought pattern as an example. Many of us with addictions and mental health issues are anxious about our recovery process. We are worried we will relapse. We’re terrified of disappointing our loved ones. We’re afraid of causing even more damage and destruction to ourselves and those around us. With ERP, we will expose ourselves intentionally and consciously to our fears. “I’m afraid I will fail. I’m afraid I will always be suffering. I’m afraid of hurting other people. I’m afraid people won’t love me anymore.”

Meditate on your fears. As we sit with them, we begin to have acceptance, which helps reduce the negative energy we’ve been building up with our resistance. As we allow ourselves to feel the fears, their powerful hold over us starts to fade. Then we consciously choose not to follow up with our drug of choice, our toxic relationship pattern, or our self-destructive compulsion. With time and practice, our fears don’t feel so overpowering and debilitating because we have faced them head on. We start to realize just how strong we actually are for continuing to live our lives and not letting our fears destroy us.

We can help you to explore different healing techniques and find the ones that help you most. Call Enlightened Solutions (833) 801-LIVE.


Investigating Our Fears

Investigating Our Fears

The healing process of working through our fears includes investigating and taking a closer look at them. As we identify our fears and become conscious of how they show up in our lives, it’s also helpful to think about where they came from, where we learned or acquired them, and how they make us feel, in order to work through them and move forward.

Sometimes we’re not sure where our fears originated and why. It takes some work to look at them more in depth. We can ask ourselves, where did these fears come from? What did I experience, especially early in life, that contributed to my developing this fear? Traumatic experiences, such as losing a loved one or being abused, can cause us to develop all kinds of fears- fears of loss, abandonment, pain, rejection.

Sometimes we absorb our fears from family members or other people we grew up with. We can inherit fears and other emotional memories and then find ourselves being afraid of certain things we might not have been otherwise, simply because our families experienced them. We can also pick fears up from people over time. Our fearful thoughts, feelings and behaviors can affect the people around us.

It is common for us to be influenced by the cultures we live in and are surrounded by. We are impacted by the things we see on TV and in movies, music, video games, social media, etc. We can develop fears based on the things we see. Everything we witness becomes part of our psyche. Seeing extreme violence in a movie, for example, can cause you to develop a specific fear, even if you didn’t experience it yourself.

The work of investigating fears can be very challenging emotionally. Our fears are scary! It’s important to approach this work with self-love and patience. Many of our fears have been with us for most of our lives, and healing takes time. Don’t beat yourself up for being afraid. Fears are normal and human, and something we all have in common. They are one of the ties that bind us together in the vastness of the human experience. Have compassion for yourself. Remember yourself as a child and have compassion for the pain you experienced.

As we become more conscious of our fears, it can be overwhelming to look at them with honesty, openness and vulnerability. We can find ourselves feeling even more sad and afraid, because we are gaining consciousness rather than burying our fears under our addictions. When fearful thoughts pop up as they inevitably will, send yourself love and affirm that you are growing stronger. Have faith that you will heal. Be brave.

Working through addictions and mental health issues requires that we address our fears. The experienced community at Enlightened Solutions can help. Call (833) 801-LIVE for more information.


Healing From Our Fears

Healing From Our Fears

When we are struggling with addictions and mental health issues, we can find ourselves consumed by fear. We often use our addictive behaviors and thought patterns to bury our fears, whether consciously or subconsciously. We distract ourselves from our fears and try to run from them. We self-medicate to numb ourselves and to avoid having to really look at our fears. For some of us, it’s our relationship to fear that is a major contributor to our mental health problems and addictions in the first place.

How do we heal from our fears? This is a fundamental, very real, very challenging part of the healing process. When we’re working to recover from our addictions and mental health issues, we can’t ignore the underlying fears that we may or not be conscious of. When we look at the fears head on, we can address them and allow ourselves to experience real healing.

Instead of only focusing on the surface symptoms such as anxiety, nervousness, and restlessness, let’s dig deeper at what fears those feelings represent. This can take time, patience and soul searching. Sometimes we become so mired in our repetitive thought patterns and addictive behaviors that we need the help of an outside person such as a therapist, mentor, spiritual guide or trusted friend.

Meditate, still your thoughts, and get quiet. Give your inner voice the space to communicate with you. Allow the guidance of your higher power to come through. Sometimes we consume ourselves so much with our recurring thoughts, worries, problems and issues that we disconnect ourselves from our higher truths.

Give yourself time and space. Relationships of any kind can make it more difficult to connect with our inner selves.

Ask yourself, “what am I afraid of? What are my fears?” Some common ones many of us share are fear of failure and fear of success, fear of being judged by other people, fear of inadequacy, fear of being abandoned or replaced, fear of being alone. Name your fears.

Imagine the fear is already healed, and you’re no longer suffering from it. How would you feel? List these things for yourself. Examples include feeling at peace, grounded, secure, stable, confident, strong, powerful, brave, fearless.

Imagine you’ve conquered that fear. How would that feel? You’d be proud of yourself. You’d feel like you can transcend anything. You’d feel relieved, empowered and grateful to have healed your suffering.

What affirmations can you say to reflect those feelings? Write and repeat statements for yourself from the perspective of having freed yourself from your fears. “I am at peace within myself. I am healed. I am brave. I am confident. I am powerful.”

Fear is a part of life for all of us. Facing our fears and working through them, rather than running from them, is crucial to our healing.

Sometimes we need support to face our fears. Let the community at Enlightened Solutions help. Call (833) 801-LIVE.


The 4 Common Types Of Depression

Depression is a globally experienced mental health disorder on every level. Coping with depression which goes undiagnosed or untreated can result in substance abuse or other harmful behaviors. If you are living with depression there is hope.

Major Depression

Major depression is the most common diagnosed form of depression. Also called chronic depression or clinical depression, it is the stereotypical type of depression which is ongoing. Major depression is characterized by feeling as though one is being swallowed by darkness. Feelings of being numb, emotionless, and uninspired are common. Other symptoms can include:

  • Weight gain
  • Loss of energy
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and passions
  • Fatigue
  • Suicidal Ideation

Treatment for major depression can include antidepressant medication therapy and traditional psychotherapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be helpful for treating depression. Often, a change in diet, exercise, and wellness can reduce symptoms of depression.

Persistent Depressive Disorder

Though persistent depressive disorder is as ongoing as major depressive disorder it is not the same in terms of severity. Symptoms of depression can last for two years of more but never reach the all-encompassing darkness that major depression can. People living with persistent depressive disorder are usually highly functioning, simply carrying the burden of depressing thoughts of feelings. Symptoms can still include:

  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in energy
  • Problems with self-esteem
  • Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder and depression are separate, yet connected. Formerly called “manic depressive” disorder, bipolar disorder includes bouts of mania and depression. After a manic episode, people with bipolar tend to come “crashing” down into depression. Their symptoms reflect the opposite of what they experienced during mania. Bipolar depression is often characterized by feelings of worry, discouragement, loss of self-worth and hopelessness.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Caused by a change in time and season, the brain creates more melatonin during the day because of a lack of sunshine. Low energy, low mood, and depressive symptoms like hopelessness are common for people to develop during the winter months. Usually, the depression symptoms disappear as the weather starts to change. During the dark days of the year, people can feel incredibly down and even suicidal.

Are you coping with depression by abusing drugs and alcohol? Enlightened solutions offers day treatment programs which are certified in treating co-occurring disorders for mental health and substance abuse. Start your healing with us. Call today for more information at 833-801-5483.


partial care program

Too Much Anxiety Is Bad For You

Anyone who struggles with anxiety knows this to be true. Experiencing anxiety attacks throughout a day, or having the constant feeling of burdensome worry feels like a lot. Anxiety is not just a mental health disorder but a physical health disorder as well. Hypertension, high blood rates, and other physical symptoms can come along with anxiety.The Washington Post reports that anxiety in youth might cause anxiety later on in life, also causing the onset of dangerous health problems having to do with the heart. 15-20 percent of seniors suffer from an anxiety disorder, according tothe post, and is often problematic.

Anxiety Disorders

Unfortunately, anxiety is often mischaracterized and goes without treatment. People who are just labeled worriers and people who overthink things too often might internalize these criticisms as a problem unique to them. Instead of wonder if this is something other people struggle with, perhaps realizing it might be a diagnosable problem, they take the comments on as something wrong with just them. Millions of people live with mental health disorders like anxiety but do not receive a formal diagnosis or any kind of treatment. Anxiety disorders are often co-occurring with substance use disorders as people turn to the relieving effects of substance abuse.

Life Is full of things to worry about from interpersonal problems to intrapersonal problems. However, carrying the weight of your world and the whole world all at once is a task not assigned to anyone. Learning to manage anxiety is critical for learning to live with it in a healthy way. In addition to anxiety management techniques, therapy and medication are also helpful. Cognitive behavioral therapy has been proven to be the most effective form of anxiety treatment, even without the help of medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy works because it helps change the way people with anxiety think. Anxiety is largely a thinking disorder. Mindfulness Based stress reduction practices are also helpful in calming the mind and creating clarity where there is normally only chaos.

Anxiety can feel like a train of worry which is never going to stop. We know that coming to terms with a mental illness can be challenging. If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety and a co-occurring substance use disorder, Enlightened Solutions is here to help. Our treatment programs are certified for dual diagnosis and designed to encourage the development of each person as they are uniquely are. For information on our partial care programs and how we can help you start living your best life today, call 833-801-5483 today.


Why We Get Attracted to Fear

Recklessness is a word that could be used to describe addiction. Under the influence of powerful drugs and/or alcohol, drug addicts and alcoholics make reckless decisions. Even if one isn’t addicted to substances, when they are under the influence they live on the edge. For example, people choose to drive drunk. Some substances cause euphoria in such a way that it makes people feel invincible. Under the influence of such drugs, people attempt all kinds of reckless acts. Even without the influence, addicts and alcoholics, or substance users alike, have a common characteristic of living dangerously. Listen to the stories of recovering addicts and alcoholics and be amazed by the death defying circumstances many have survived.

There are some who can’t seem to get away from such a lifestyle. As if the danger were part of the addiction itself, despite their previous brushes with death, they cannot get away. Using in and of itself is a game of russian roulette. Relapses weaken the body. Vulnerable to the potency of drugs after some time spent clean and sober, overdose is always a possibility. Yet, time after time, just like their drug, addicts return to the high of danger. They are attracted to the fear.

Why We Get Attracted to Fear

It turns out that the attraction to the “fear” associated with substance abuse is not so different from the attraction of substance abuse itself. More specifically, what makes substance abuse addicting also makes fear addicting. When we experience fear our bodies release different chemicals and hormones to compensate. Adrenaline is quite literally the body’s fight or flight response, the natural way of handling fear. Lesser well known for being produced in response to fear is dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in the brain which is supposed to communicate pleasure. In the brain cycle of addiction, dopamine plays a very large role. The brain becomes addicted to, obsessed with, and dependent on excessive dopamine production.

For fear, much like with drugs and alcohol, some people don’t have a tolerance threshold. That is why some people can withstand haunted houses, scary movies, and thrill seeking while others jump at bumps in the night. Since dopamine is released, some actually enjoy the fear. In fact, the scarier the better.

Can fear be an addiction?

It is unlikely that the brain will develop an addiction to scary movies or corn mazes during Halloween. However, the brain can get addicted to receiving pleasure from dopamine production. Whatever it is that stimulates the brain in this way will become an obsession over time. Danger seeking behavior can be problematic in addiction recovery, acting almost like an addiction-swap.