Fear is a familiar feeling for most addicts. Although it may be covered by a wall of defenses, it is always there. The Big Book (p. 62) states that alcoholics suffer from a hundred forms of fear.

It is no surprise that addicts are fearful in the face of self-destructive behavior they are unable to control. Delusion and denial often prevent the fear from surfacing. If it does, addictive behavior can assuage it, or it may come out as anger.

In Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (p. 49) Bill suggests that the debilitating fear alcoholics (addicts) experience is a soul-sickness from instincts gone wild. There is fear that excessive ambition, lust, and power needs will not be satisfied. In recovery these fears are replaced by a different set of values and a spiritual life. Losing the fear of people and of economic insecurity is one of the promises of the program.

Abstinence, moderation, and the use of Steps Two and Three can help eliminate the fear from the addiction itself. Steps Four through Nine help with other fears related to addiction. Then addicts have to face fears like everyone else.

Natural Fear

Fear is a biochemical event to warn you of danger and prepare you for flight or fight. It is a basic survival response. Since flight or fight is not usually an option to dissipate the energy associated with fears these days, anxiety results. Much of this anxiety involves the fear of losing love, control, or self-esteem.

When you live life on a spiritual basis you learn tools to free you from anxiety and debilitating fear. You will continue to experience fear, but with faith and living in concord with what you believe is the will of your Higher Power, you can have the freedom and joy you deserve.


Abuse can traumatize a child and carry over into adulthood. Fear, anger, lack of trust, and withdrawal from people or attempts to control them may have been ways to deal with the abuse. Survivors may experience posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This often includes sleep disturbances, nightmares, overalertness, difficulty concentrating, numbed emotions, and underlying terror. If this is your experience, please get counseling or treatment, and join a specialized support group to help you deal with your past. There you can experience the love and healing you need to continue with your recovery.


There are extremes of fear that are characteristic of mental illness or serious psychological problems. Paranoid schizophrenia and chronic anxiety states are examples that require professional help.

Fear, see also: Abuse, Anger, Codependency, Crisis, Emotional aspects, Emotions Anonymous, Excitement, Family of origin, Feelings, Neurotransmitters, Obsession, Panic attacks, Self-image, Serenity, Sleep, Stress & strain, Tranquilizers, Trust, Visualizations.

Updated 7 Sep 2015

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Addictionary 2 by Jan & Judy Wilson

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