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What to Do if You Are Scared to Go to Rehab

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Starting anything new can make people anxious. This is also true for many people who need addiction treatment. People may feel scared to go to rehab for a variety of reasons. This fear of rehab can keep people from getting the help they need and deserve.

Without getting substance abuse treatment, addiction is likely to get worse. If you or someone you love feel scared to go to rehab, you must get the information you need to feel confident about seeking treatment.

Contact the caring Carolina Center for Recovery staff today for more information about our substance abuse programs. Our team is dedicated to making you feel safe and comfortable throughout your treatment experience.

What Makes People Scared to Go to Rehab

Fear can stem from past experiences, buried emotions, or simply the fear of the unknown. After all, stopping the use of an addictive substance that you have relied on for a long time can be an extremely terrifying thought. Some of the most common reasons why people are scared to go to rehab include:

1. They don’t know what to expect

Many people may have an idea about what rehab will be like from watching scenes in movies or on TV. Or, they may simply worry about starting something new and unfamiliar. This fear may be even greater for people starting an inpatient or residential program.

Going to rehab–inpatient or outpatient–involves a lot of change. You will meet new people, have to learn and follow new rules, and be in an unfamiliar environment. Any of these things can make people feel scared to go to rehab.

2. They are anxious about sobriety

Sometimes, something familiar can be hard to leave behind–especially when you can’t anticipate what comes next. Living with addiction can feel normal after a while. You get used to the people, places, and routines of your life. Your beliefs, behaviors, and habits become ingrained.

Many feel scared to go to rehab because they don’t know what life in sobriety will be like. They may feel anxious about losing their friendships, worry about facing the consequences of their addiction, or fear what daily life will be like once they give up drugs or alcohol.

3. They are afraid of what people will think

The stigma surrounding addiction isn’t hard to see. People often hide the reality of their addiction from friends, family members, and employers for as long as possible out of fear of how they might react. People living with addiction may worry about being rejected, losing their loved ones’ trust, or having people feel disappointed in them. Some are scared to go to rehab because it feels too vulnerable to admit their substance abuse has become severe.

Many people have practical worries, too. Their fear of going to rehab may be rooted in anxiety about losing their job, children, partner, or place in the community. People may worry that others will judge–not celebrate–them if they go to rehab.

4. They worry about taking time away from work or their family

Of the millions living with addiction in the United States, only about 1 in 10 receive treatment to overcome it. Many barriers prevent people from seeking addiction treatment. One of the biggest sources of fear of going to rehab is taking time away from family or losing employment.

How to Overcome the Fear of Going to Rehab

First, it is natural to worry about a significant life change. Seeking addiction treatment can be life-changing–or even life-saving. If you live with substance abuse or addiction, you must seek treatment to avoid the most severe consequences of addiction.

Here are some steps you can take to help overcome your fear of going to rehab.

1. Remind yourself of your big reasons for going to rehab

Each person has their own big reasons for seeking addiction treatment. Yours may be:

  • To be a better, more present parent
  • To live a longer, healthier life
  • To advance in your career
  • To gain control over your life choices

Once you determine your reasons for seeking treatment, you must find a way to focus on these when treatment feels difficult. Most people experience cravings, setbacks, and even relapses during the early days of recovery. It is essential to remember why you need help and remind yourself of these reasons often.

2. Learn about your rights

Two federal laws protect people’s employment while going through addiction or mental health treatment. Congress passed these laws to let people seek treatment without worrying about losing their job.

The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

The Family and Medical Leave Act protects a person’s job while participating in addiction treatment. There are some stipulations about who is covered by FMLA, including the size of the company and the length of a person’s employment. This law protects a person’s job for up to 12 weeks while they go through treatment.

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)

The Americans with Disabilities Act prevents employers from firing or discriminating against employees with addiction. Some employees may be allowed to alter their work schedule to allow time for treatment or recovery activities, such as medical appointments, testing, and 12-step meetings. The ADA also protects people who need to take a leave of absence to participate in treatment for mental illness or addiction.

3. Set small goals

Instead of approaching treatment and recovery like an all-or-nothing event, you must focus on setting and working toward smaller, attainable goals that can lead to long-term success. These goals might include things like:

  • Eating three meals each day
  • Going to bed at the same time every night
  • Calling a friend or support person several times a week or every day
  • Attending every scheduled group or meeting

As you succeed in these smaller goals, you can begin to set larger goals for your life after treatment. Maybe you’d like to travel, find a new job, or start a new relationship. Breaking down rehab and recovery into smaller, manageable goals can help you feel more confident getting the help you need.

4. Learn about what rehab is really like

Most importantly, you should ask questions you have about rehab. Find out what a typical day in rehab might be like. Learn the facility’s rules related to personal items you can bring and having visitors. Tour the facility and talk to staff beforehand. The more you know about what to expect in your treatment program, the better prepared you will feel when you begin.

Get Help Now

Contact the Carolina Center for Recovery specialists today to learn more about starting one of our substance abuse treatment programs.