Fear of Failure

We get quite a few calls from people who are so afraid to fail in their quest to quit drinking that they scare themselves into never even giving it a try.

It reminds me of the newspaper articles I read every year about the number of kids taking their lives before end of school exams because of a genuine “fear of failure”. These are not kids who have failed, these are kids who fear they may fail. How have we created such a fear of failure in our society?

It is not just in the schools and our phone calls, people are becoming so fearful of failure that they would prefer to fail by doing nothing than to fail by doing something that has the slightest risk.

I hear this every week. “Oh, I can’t do that because I might not be good at it.” Or “My child won’t play _____ because he is afraid he wouldn’t be good at it and he only plays sports he knows he is good at.” What??? How do you think you get good at anything? You have to try it and practice and get good at it? Very few of us were born knowing how to play tennis or football or play the piano.

We need to recognize that fear of failure is becoming a major cost to society that we need to resolve. We need to teach people to embrace failure. We need to teach children from an early age that it is OK to fail. We need to teach them that successful people got to where they are by learning from their failures. We need to reinforce the message with our political leaders, business leaders and employees that it is far better to have a go and fail than to not have a go at all.

That is worth repeating: It is far better to have a go and fail than to not have a go at all.

With our clients, most do not fail. Some do have a lapse here and there but they ultimately succeed and gain a great deal of insight from their supposed failure. Everybody who really tries, learns a lot about themselves and are stronger on the next go around. So don’t let a fear that you may “relapse” prevent you from trying. Your life will be richer and better for the effort.

?Isn’t it time to put some teeth into that New Year’s resolution this year?

So go ahead and give us call and schedule your week. Your chance of failure is small and the benefits you will reap are great.


This is the other big fear people have that keeps them from trying to quit. They fear withdrawal. So rather than risk going into withdrawal, they will continue drinking, with all the damage that can and does cause.

While withdrawal is a very serious issue, the vast majority of drinkers don’t have any problem with it. Only a small minority will have problems and those problems can be mitigated with medication from our physician and a taper-down drinking schedule. In all the years that we have been in practice we have had only two people – two – need medical detox at an outside facility. A small group of clients used medication from our physician and the rest of our clients didn’t need anything.

How will you know where you fall in the withdrawal spectrum? First ask yourself a few questions about your drinking and quitting history. How do you feel when you go a couple of days without drinking? Can you go a couple of days without drinking? Have you ever been in withdrawal before? Do you need a drink first thing in the morning when you wake up? Notice I said “need” not “want”, there is a difference. How much are you really drinking every day and for how many years? How much are you drinking right now?

These are the sort of question our physician will ask you to help him determine your risk. If he has any doubts, he (and we) prefer to err on the side of caution and give you some medication.

We have noticed that many programs seem to try to scare people about withdrawal, implying that everyone will have horrible withdrawal and that everyone needs to be detoxed medically at the start of treatment. Again, let me say that maybe only 10% of people actually experience any withdrawal symptoms and those can be managed with medication so you are not uncomfortable or in danger.