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Fear

Overview of Fear

Fear is not abnormal.

It’s protective. It motivates action. It’s a warning. A signal. It keeps you safe. 

The fight or flight response to perceived danger is a formative part of the human experience and a core survival mechanism dating back to our first ancestors. To a certain extent, it even assured the very survival of our species.

It’s powerful and it’s healthy and it’s something we all feel from time to time to varying degrees.

But what happens when fear goes unchecked?

When the response to fear moves well beyond the rational and into something utterly more sinister? A paralyzing, all-encompassing and incapacitating feeling.

When fear moves away from the ordinary or commonplace and becomes excessive or illogical it moves into the territory of being classified as a phobia. Ultimately a type of anxiety disorder, phobia is defined by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as “a strong, irrational fear of something that poses little or no actual danger”.

The problem when fear crosses that line in the sand is that your brain doesn’t really know the difference between imagined fear and real fear. It can’t distinguish your thoughts and imagination from reality and that same fight or flight response that was cultivated millennia ago is now being triggered unnecessarily.

In other words, imagining that you may be harmed by someone or thinking a dog is vicious and will attack you conjures a similar reaction in the mind to actually experiencing the real thing.

Your body still responds the same way.

Are you wondering where fear comes from and why it becomes so incapacitating? Fear is felt by most people in varying degrees. When it becomes paralyzing and substances become the method of emotional management, it is time to reach for help. The problem with fear is that your brain does not know the difference between imagined and real fear. If someone is threatening to harm you, your body responds by bringing forward the fight or flight process. Likewise, if you think that something horrible may happen, your body still responds the same way. Fear is often met with a need to isolate, to use substances for an escape from the feelings, or to hide in the “safety” of your own home. 

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the the day saying ‘ I will try again tomorrow” – Mary Anne Radmacher

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Why Go to Fear Management Treatment?

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) adds, “although adults with phobias may realize that these fears are irrational, even thinking about facing the feared object or situation brings on severe anxiety symptoms”.

And if you’re among those living with this type of fear and aren’t able to avoid whatever it is that’s bringing it on, HHS notes you can experience:

  • Panic and fear
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling
  • A strong desire to get away

Left unexamined and untreated, you can plainly see how fear can become debilitating to live with. Phobias comes in many, many forms but social phobia, for example, can be so severe according to HHS “that a person experiences symptoms almost anytime they are around other people”.

How does someone react to this heightened state of fear? What do they do?

Unwarranted fear comes with a cost and is often met with an overarching need to isolate or hide in the perceived safety of your own home. As fear turns to phobia and slowly but surely takes control, you begin to avoid more and more pieces and parts of life.

NIMH paints the picture of avoidance even more vividly, saying that people with phobia: 

  • May have an irrational or excessive worry about encountering the feared object or situation
  • Take active steps to avoid the feared object or situation
  • Experience immediate intense anxiety upon encountering the feared object or situation
  • Endure unavoidable objects and situations with intense anxiety

Given the extreme duress fear can create, it’ll come as little surprise then that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found that “data shows high rates of comorbid substance use disorders and anxiety disorders”.

And it makes sense, in order to find a way to get through the daily torment that a flood of fear brings – the profound anxiety it ignites in you – it’s not uncommon for those living with phobias to turn to substances as a coping mechanism or a way to escape from those crushing, draining feelings.

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How Are Addiction and Fear Linked?

People want to feel like they’re in control and can handle what life throws at them. They don’t want to feel like a burden so they don’t share that they’re frightened or living in constant, abject fear because they don’t want to appear “weak”.

So, they use drugs or alcohol as a tool for emotional management and to cultivate some semblance of “normalcy”. 

Having to drink or take drugs to deal with your day-to-day life sets an extremely dangerous precedent that can quickly escalate though.

The longer you take substances to keep your fears in check, the more your body starts to get used to them. What started as an occasional drink or hit soon turns into a full blown dependency. As time marches on you begin to build a tolerance to the drugs or alcohol and come to find that your initial dose just isn’t killing the fear anymore.

What happens then?

You start to boost the number of drinks you have or the dosage of your drug of choice. The cycle is growing more dangerous. Fear fueling the need.

But you don’t have to stay trapped in it or let it rule your life. There is a way out from under the weight of it and it’s found in dual diagnosis treatment which helps you work through your fears and addiction together.

Fear treatment at Inneractions is led by our team of skilled therapists and facilitators who help you navigate through the emotions and past experiences which caused the greatest discomfort. At the same time – with techniques like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and more – we help you beat addiction by establishing new perspectives and thought patterns and equipping you with healthy coping mechanisms.

Our treatment programs are laser-focused on making sure you have the necessary tools to overcome your fears more effectively on the way to living a more fulfilling and sober life.

Reach out to us today to learn more about our dual diagnosis program.

Fear Management Treatment in Los Angeles, CA

Many people do not share that they are frightened because they judge themselves for being “weak”. You do not need to stay frozen in fear.

 At inneractions, we have the skilled therapists and facilitators to assist you in navigating through the emotions which cause the greatest discomfort. We will provide you with the necessary tools so you may learn to cope with your fears more successfully and attain a more fulfilling life.

 

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