Fear can be paralyzing, how much more so when one has to deal with complicated fear. Complicated fear has no escape route. No place of safety. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

It is oftentimes unimaginable to picture a life without drugs. The fear can be unbearable. Believing you will not be able to enjoy yourself without using, believing you will not be considered fun or that you will feel left out. Believing you can only feel secure and in control of yourself when you are using. Never mind that none of these are actually true; it is true for you. This is your perspective, and perspective is reality. Yet you want to stop using; you have to stop using. You need to face the fear because your life is continuing to spiral down. You are in an unmanageable, unsustainable free fall to a bad, bad place.

You are fearful of the future if you continue to use. Fearful that you might not even have a future. You hardly recognize who you are anymore, and still the fear of stopping can be greater than the fear to keep using.

The main reason for this is referred to as preferring to deal with the devil we know instead of having to deal with the devil we don’t know.

We don’t like ourselves as addicts, but we are familiar with ourselves this way. Facing life without drugs is much scarier, unfamiliar. We think we have no experience handling life without drugs. Like with every other unknown, we are scared, apprehensive. Fear of the unknown is common and not just for the addicted, for all of us.

It is hard to believe anyone who tells you a life without drugs is way less fearful than you think.

If you really think about it, even in continued using, there are many times that you face life without drugs. After all, you cannot be high twenty-four hours every day. So as unimaginable as you think it is to handle life clean, it is less terror filled when you remind yourself of this truth.

Every addict has these fears, and those that have been in recovery for a long time will let you know your fears are usual. Your sponsor or your in-recovery therapist or recovery coach can take your hand to help you with these baby steps. It’s like learning anything new. Step by step. Think of anything at all that you learned from scratch: walking, running, swimming, riding a bike, cooking, everything—none of these things happened without baby steps. Beginnings can sometimes be terror filled. Certainly, living without drugs is right up there on the terror scale, but so is living while continuing to use. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So a choice. One way you get to live and experience life as it is meant to be experienced. That means ups and downs. Good days and not-so-good days. Or you can continue on the road to hell. Make no mistake; substance abuse is the road to hell, and you know it. It is said that a bad day in recovery beats the hell out of a good day stoned.

So either way, you are scared. All addicts are. Every single addict has made one choice over the other. Guess which one is the better choice.

So start. Take your baby step even though it is the biggest step you will ever take. Don’t worry about stumbling or falling. There is an army of us out here just waiting to catch you. Remember, there is no expiration date on trying. Fall down eight, get up nine!