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Fear of Life without Pills?

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Old 01-18-2008, 03:12 PM   #1
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Fear of Life without Pills?

Hi all

I thought I would use this thread as a response to a few of my friends concerning a common topic here lately about fearing life without pills once we have detoxed. Fear about how we will handle life if there is no pill to lean on. Maybe because so many are getting closer to the end of tapers or have just recently stopped, there seems to be a lot of posting about this concern.
I thought that I would share how this has gone for me as fear of life without either opiates or benzos was a fear for me the same as it is for so many of us.

When I first started tapering and detoxing, I feared the detox itself. I feared the physical withdrawal and the mental pain as it was happening to me. For a long time, I was so wrapped up in the process of withdrawing that my fears stayed nice and focused on that. I couldn't move past that fear until I was further along and realized that however miserable I was feeling, I was progressing on fewer and fewer pills and was, to my surprise, actually surviving. Like many others, there were tmes during that detoxing when I literally felt like I was dying, that the coming off was so harsh that surely it would kill me. But I kept waking up the next day. And the next and the next. Finally, I truly accepted that I was indeed going to live and stopped having the fear of dying.

So what next? Yep. Moved right on into the fear of living. Traded one fear for another. ( hmmm.. like trading one drug for another?). How was I going to cope without my 'safety net' of drugs? How was I going to face life without them? This is where we actually begin to step into the needed process of recovery, or as I am more apt to call it: restoration. Recovery always seems in my mind as recovering from an illness, like a cold, and it is over. When we stop using drugs and don't move forward in life, we have only recovered from drug sickness; we have not repaired and retored our lives yet and until we do, we will always have a nagging feeling of unease, of ... fear..... that we can not make it without the drugs, that it will be too hard for us.

What happens in restoration is that we learn again (or, for some of us, for the first time), how to face life without planning an escape route first. When we were younger, we faced life with interest every day. What will I do today? What will life bring? It usually brought some sort of sameness that we could count on. School, meals, play. Often it brought small surprises with it daily... some good, some not.... and we dealt with them as they occured. Met a new friend? Good. Smiles. Exchange some info, play. Fall down and get hurt? Bad. Cry, get some sympathy. Dealt with, over and done. On to the rest of our day. Then somewhere in each of our lives, for a number of various reasons, we were introduced to drugs. Somewhere along the line, each of us found drugs to be an escape route from something beyond their intent to mask physical pain when necessary. We started using them to mask emotional pain, mental pain. We used it to find refuge from past issues, present problems. We taught ourselves to use drugs as a coping mechanism and slowly forgot how to use healthy coping mechanisms. When we face finding mechanisms to cope that will no longer include drugs, we find ourselves facing fear.

I know now that I can face life without drugs. It has taken me quite a while to put into place the strategies that work better now. Some I had to relearn, some are new ones I have been taught. ( Old dogs can learn new tricks!). And I had to practice every single day to make coping habits implant themselves in my brain. I practiced talking with people during the day. I practiced resting laying across the bed. I practiced going to sleep at night with no meds. I practiced real honesty when I was hurt by others. I prcticed taking criticism objectively and constructively. I learned how to say yes only when I truly felt it. I learned how to say no and stand my ground. I learned to put everyday things into perspective and to ignore things that are of no consequence in the larger picture of life. To the things of consequence in life, I learned that I can only deal with them to the best of my ability day by day. Oh, I still falter. Believe me! But I do not fear anymore.

There is a progresion to this process of restoring our lives again. I think that like grief, we must go through all the stages to come out healthy and happy at the other end. It starts with detox and the fear of dying from it or from using the pills. It turns to surviving and then fear of living without using the pills.

And then the balance comes......

Yes, it does come. I can not tell you not to have fear of living without the pills. I sure had it. I think it is a natural fear, a natural concern as we begin to leave the minute to minute of detox and start living in real time again. And there it is in a word... time. It takes time. Just like it took me time to understand and process that I was not dying, it took me time to understand that I could live happily without the pills. Time and practice. Like the times tables and the rote drilling as children. We kept doing them and doing them and doing them until we got it, really got it. We practiced, it took time, but finally tere they were in our brains for everyday use.

I would never advocate embracing the fear... who wants to embrace something scary? But understand it and we undermine it. Know that it has a solution, know that one day it will be over, just like detox. There may be times in the beginning when we feel tested, tried. Those times will begin to get further apart and a more sure-footed feeling takes place. When a bad surprise comes my way these days, I may not like it, but I don't have thoughts of escaping with a pill. The fear of life is gone. It has been replaced with a balanced and realistic perspective.

And it feels... great! It will come for each of you. Stay strong and steady. Believe.

From the berry patch

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Old 01-18-2008, 04:44 PM   #2
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granny0 HB User
Re: Fear of Life without Pills?

Thanks for that post. As always, many words of wisdom.

Old 01-18-2008, 04:46 PM   #3
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Re: Fear of Life without Pills?

Thanks Reach

As Im nearing "the day" I find your words to be comforting as I have detoxed before only to give in to the mental side of withdrawal. You are a very generous person to share your thoughts/experiences with us. You and this website represent "full circle"to me; the first time I posted here in Dec 2006 when I ran out of OC and felt withdrawal for the first time you offered advise to me. Obviously I wasnt ready then to give this lifestyle up, I still thought out was a matter of willpower and I would be able to control my OC intake. Now, 1 year later and with a habit that has increased 10x Im glad I saved this site in my favorites and Im glad your still here to share your experience with us. I am in absolute terror of what Monday will bring however I find comfort in your words-Thank You

Last edited by Dryseeker; 01-18-2008 at 04:50 PM.

Old 01-18-2008, 04:52 PM   #4
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Re: Fear of Life without Pills?

As always, thank you Reach for the inspiration, hope, and knowledge. Know that we all treasure you!


Old 01-18-2008, 04:52 PM   #5
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ilovejoaquim HB User
Re: Fear of Life without Pills?

hi reach,
i really love your post You just explained who I am and what I've been feeling these past few years that ive been on pills. I realize now that my addiction to pills are just my safety net for when things go wrong. Not that things go wrong everyday, but if I wake up and have no pills, I get scared because I have no safety net and I fear that if something bad comes my way I wont be able to handle it so I begin to have anxiety and therefor I need another pill to control my anxiety and the fear builds up and builds up untill Ive called everybody in my phone book who might actually have a few pills left to sell.
Fear is exactly whats stopping me. I'm not scared of the withdrawls because I know they won't last forever. I'm just scared to deal with life. I feel empty inside when I dont have a pill in my pocket. It's like, I know everything will be okay today because I have a pill in my pocket if I begin to get scared today or begin to have some anxiety today. I know everythign will be okay because this little pill will save the day.

REACH, how long did it take you to start becoming fearless if there were no pills around and how long were you addicted and how much were you taking?

Old 01-18-2008, 05:33 PM   #6
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Re: Fear of Life without Pills?


REACH, how long did it take you to start becoming fearless if there were no pills around and how long were you addicted and how much were you taking?

I started tapering in October of 2006, first from Oxycodone ( 60 mgs per day) and then from Xanax ( 5 tabs a day at my peak, 3 when I officially started tapering. I finished all like the end of June or so... it took a week or so of a 16th tab of Xanax here and there to really finish the Xanax taper. Halfway through the taper, I began 'stepping out' a bit into life again. A trip to the store with Hubby. A visit to a friend's... with Hubby. Family over... with Hubby taking charge. Needed that support desperately.

Then, I pushed harder. Tried a car ride with Mom, no Hubby; a short solo visit to a friend's house. Then a trip to a store alone and writing a check. (Guys, I was a really lost soul there for quite a while). I kept branching out like that. Sometime by the end of the summer, I stopped being conscious of not having a pill with me.

By September, I was starting to feel focused again, able to absorb information better, able to understand more of what had, and was happeneing to me. I had become very, very open on the board here and that gave me the practice, and the courage, to start being more and more open in real life. I began to really open up with the clinical social worker.

During this time, I began to concentrate also on gauging more realistically how I perceived pain. My leg throbbing could be calmed by resting and elevating, maybe some heat. It stopped being a crisis situation. I became more analytical about it. Started measuring it against some horrific pain that I endured after part of my leg was removed. Now that was a ten. What I endure now is realistically a 5 or so. I don't like it, it is a hinderance in my life sometimes, but it is something I can cope with without opiates or benzos.

I transferred that whole idea of realistically gauging from the pain arena to the fear of living without pills. I began to analyze exactly what in life I was afraid of facing. I was really scared and afraid of depression. Terrified of it actually. Then I realized and accepted that the pills had a lot to do with me being in depression. I was afraid of thinking about my Pop and the whole time of his death and all the cancer that invaded my family at that time in my life. I was afraid to grieve, afraid that I could not bear the pain of grieveing. I did not want to do it. However, with the pills no longer clouding my judgement, I was forced into dealing with these issues. So I went tinto the grieveing process. The Social Worker was very instrumental in helping me with this. As I worked through that grieving process, I began to understand that those things were a part of me, but a part of my history and not my present. My father and I had many wonderful years together, my Mom survived her cancer, I survived mine. I had grieved for everything including myself. So now my analyzing brought me to some startling revelations. What the heck did I have left to fear???? Doing the dishes? Visiting with a friend???? Going to the store?? These are not things to fear! They are just the stuff of everyday life!

SO I began to do these everyday things with gusto. I pushed hard to make myself do them at first. I looked at everyone of those dishes washed as a step towards restoring my life. I got so busy doing the things of everyday life that I forgot to be afraid! And now I am just not afraid anymore. I am not fearless, just not afraid consistently. Someone sticks a gun in my face and I would be scared silly. But I don't fear washing dishes!

I like myself again and I like the life I am living. It is pretty routine as I have written before and that is satisfying to me. I am happy. Yes, I am truly happy. I let fear drive me into such a dark, secretive and scary place. It does not have that power over me now because I have learned to look at the fear and figure out very practically what it stems from. I feared life without the refuge of drugs being at my disposal. When I finally rejoined life, it really isn't scary afterall. It is life, that's all.

With hope for all

Old 01-18-2008, 09:56 PM   #7
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lnhguy HB User
Re: Fear of Life without Pills?

reach you must be someone great in "real" life. love the post. exactly how i have been feeling. just dealing with it i guess. it is very reassuring to know there is a time where times will be better. thank you. your always an inspiration

(^ ^) nhguy

Old 01-18-2008, 11:25 PM   #8
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emsmom HB User
Re: Fear of Life without Pills?


Thank you for this post. I am almost at the end of my taper and feeling everything you've explained. I am scared, anxious, excited, nervous etc. What will I do when there are no more?

Your words really helped me - I'm not so scared anymore.

Thanks a bunch


Old 01-19-2008, 03:29 AM   #9
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Re: Fear of Life without Pills?

Wow Reach,
Thank you so much for this post. I really needed it for currently as I am tapering I am in the fear of life phase. It is terrifying. I like how you explained how you got through it. I need to hear that I too will one day no longer fear moving on. My fear can be just as exagerated as the pain. I started school this week and man oh man i threw about 50 tantrums over going and not going. I did wind up having to change a class due to gen ed. requirements, it kind of worked in my favor since it is online. I could not get motivated for the life of me. The depression sank in big big time, I too was scared I was going to die from the depression, I was also scared I would not die from it.
What I realize now is that even though I do want to teach and going to school is needed to do that, I can not, or feel I can not face losing the kids I nanny for. Even as I write this I want to cry. So in some place in my mind school is the enemy that is taking the kids away from me, it is also a sign that I am progressing away from the pills. Realistically, when I can stop and think rationally, the kids are growing up no one can stop that. So once the little one is in first grade I would need something to do during the day anyway. The mother is liking staying home, I can't force her to go to work just for me. So the truth is I will have to get a job at some point again. Do I like this? NOT RIGHT NOW, it feels horrible.
I have motivated though to start the homework and I feel better. The fear of living without the pills does get better when you can distract yourself, and distracting yourself on something productive feels pretty darn good I must say. I am starting another drop this week, usually it is a little after week one that I feel something so brace yourself guys.
Reach again, I thank you. I may have gotten off subject here, but this is where my fear of living without the pills is. With them I would not feel this way, although I may have just dropped out altogether. Thank goodness for this board.
Thank goodness for hope, for others storied and the courage to keep moving on even when I fall down and don't get up for a while. It is a process that takes a lot of TIME. That is now my four letter word, it either moves too fast or too slow.

Old 01-20-2008, 05:28 PM   #10
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Re: Fear of Life without Pills?

Ugh. Once again...........

Old 01-20-2008, 05:49 PM   #11
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Re: Fear of Life without Pills?


Struggling with a cut or just struggling? Feeling good, feeling ugh... just so darn unpredictable, huh? It is a bummer a lot of the time. Please stay strong in your conviction and determination. Hang in, hang on, know that it will end and something so much better will take the place of it all.


Old 01-21-2008, 09:05 AM   #12
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Re: Fear of Life without Pills?

Such a strong message from a wonderful friend. Thank you for being there for us for being the pioneer and passing on all of your knowledge and experiences. I will go back to that post and read and read.

Old 01-21-2008, 02:02 PM   #13
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kadee HB User
Re: Fear of Life without Pills?

I don’t know what happened to me. I was on the good road and now I’m wavering. Today I can’t get off the couch, I’m researching a ka-zillion things at once, a lot of change has happened, maybe too much, I’m binging in and out and sick and healthy in and out, just like before, but with a lot more restraint, I see so many counselors and the realism of me has just surfaced and I don’t like it, somewhere down the roads in many forks and bends I have sacrificed too much of me to other people to get where I am right now, alone and distraught, my dreams dwindling, and now I am back again on the pity pot, trying to stand up, what have I done? I have hideously wasted so much of my time, put myself in so much danger, gotten so out of control, haven’t I learned from my past mistakes, I thought I had, but obviously not, such repair I must do, the cracks I fall into, cheap thrills, past pills, keeping a low profile, being a carbon copy of myself to please others has made me this way, I have lost so many chunks of me, and I cannot get off the couch, going in my third day now. I look forward to the moon that shines at night and am hesitant of the sunshine that I know beyond a doubt will help heal me..
sad but true

Old 01-21-2008, 06:31 PM   #14
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mk7657 HB User
Re: Fear of Life without Pills?


My prayers are with you. If you relapsed, pick yourself up and try again. You can, again, not fear life without pills. I hope that reach jumps in here soon. Each time I relapse, all I can think about is how hard it is going to be to detox... I will have clean time and think I have this addiction thing whipped. Then comes temptation...and, as usual, the probability that I will fall is high. I need more time straight. I can kick a few of those demons down, but they know how to attack me at my weakest moments. What I hate most is that if I fall, I know what is coming! Alas, alas, alas.


Old 01-22-2008, 08:41 AM   #15
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Re: Fear of Life without Pills?

I think each and every one of us know what it's like to relapse..heck I did it a month ago. Yes, I felt very ashamed and very upset with myself that I let a pill take over my mind again... But I picked my butt up off the floor and hauled it with me each and every day. It's very scary to know what life is going to be like again without the pills. We don't have that cushion of the pills to fall on when life gets nasty. But this is where we have to stand up and be big girls again... dig down deep to find the strength to pull yourself up off the couch and lets do it!! It's time to start beleiving in yourself again have the strength ...just put your mind to it and do it!!!


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