How Fear of Missing Out Can Make Recovery Harder

Most people are afflicted to some degree by the fear of missing out, or FOMO. It’s the nagging feeling that no matter how much you enjoy life right now, you could be doing something even better. FOMO leads to indecision and chronic dissatisfaction. When you have to make a choice, sometimes the difficulty is not choosing the thing you want, but rejecting the thing that you might want, the thing that might be even better. Then, once you’ve chosen, no matter how good it turns out, you wonder if the other choice might have been better.

This is often a problem for people in active addiction or in recovery. For most people struggling with addiction, quitting means quitting completely. The forever quality of abstinence is the biggest hangup for many people. They imagine living the rest of their lives without the comfort of drugs or alcohol and that sense of loss feels much like grief. It’s hard to stay sober when your concept of sobriety is missing out on the one thing that used to give you the most pleasure. 

This is especially a problem with younger people. If you are in your teens or early twenties and realize you have a problem you must do something about, it’s not only the drugs and alcohol you fear missing out on. At that age, your peers are probably drinking and maybe doing other drugs, but for them it’s not a problem. If you want to stay sober, it may feel like much of that social activity is off limits for you. That’s especially tough when it comes to dating.

Older people have a different perspective. They’ve been through it enough to know that, on the whole, sobriety is better. They know there’s no way to separate the high from the low. They also know the apparently good times of youth are not really that good most of the time, and that they don’t amount to much in the long run. This perspective doesn’t guarantee they won’t relapse, or occasionally miss  using, but they do have more bad memories than younger people in recovery typically do. They’ve learned hard lessons more often.

FOMO is also a problem when it comes to celebrations or other good times. People often feel like, “Wow, this is so much fun, but it would be even better if I could drink.” Sometimes it’s not about taking the edge of a bad time, but feeling slightly disappointed in a good time that stirs up a craving. 

There’s no perfect way to eliminate the fear of missing out. One of the best ways is to play the tape to remind yourself that what you’re missing out on might be really bad. Another way is to practice gratitude by shifting your attention to what’s good in sobriety. 

Offering a full range of recovery and mental health services, Detox Center of Colorado offers “Expanded Recovery” to enrich our clients’ lives in mind, body, and spirit. Through evidence-based therapy options and the endless adventure of Colorado, Detox Center of Colorado fosters connection, encouraging clients to get connected to themselves, their peers, their families, and their higher power. With the power of recovery, clients are restored to full health and experience life-changing healing. Call us today for more information: 303-536-5463

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