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Relapse Prevention
with John Leadem, LCSW & Shawn Leadem, LCSW

Fear Will Not Keep You Sober

Many addicts do not think about strategies for preventing a relapse in the early days of recovery. This is because they are so close to the pain of their last drunk that they cannot imagine ever returning to active addiction.

We have heard many newcomers and relapse victims assert boldly that they “will never drink or drug again” because it is the furthest thing from their mind. They are certain that “to return to active addiction is a death sentence” and they “really want to live.”

While it is a good thing to have a healthy respect for the power of your drug of choice, do not comfort yourself into believing that fear will keep you sober. It will not. Your commitment to abstinence is a beginning, but fear of returning to the past is not an insurance policy against relapse.

Fear will wane over time. The emotional antecedents that have historically led us to our drugs of choice will continue to build up during our early days of abstinence. Eventually “the twain shall meet” indeed, and our fear of relapse will be overpowered by our desire to use.

That is why learning about our emotional antecedents and developing new strategies for old challenges are of paramount importance in the early days of our sobriety and in the development of any relapse prevention plan. No one relapses “just because.” Getting help from and learning from others who were successful in avoiding relapses is important. What you learn from others who are successful in recovery can help you to “stay stopped.” There is a predictable process to relapse that can be learned through exploration and inventory that will allow you to rely on new insights rather than trusting that your fear will keep you sufficiently vigilant. This is good news, considering that fear will not keep you sober…

Fear Will Not Keep You Sober

John Leadem, MSW, LCSW and Shawn Leadem, MSW, LCSW

Both John and Shawn Leadem are Licensed Clinical Social Workers in private practice in Toms River, New Jersey.

John has recently celebrated his 45th year in recovery and believes that “service to others is the cornerstone of spiritual maturity.” His professional service to addicted individuals and their families has included the development and direction of addiction treatment services in a full array of modalities from half-way houses to large residential treatment facilities over the past 44 years.

Shawn's lifelong exposure to the recovery culture and his personal recovery experience has left him with a deep personal empathy for the social and emotional suffering endured by others and a strong faith in a person’s ability to change. He has received his certification as a Sexual Addiction Therapist and as a Multiple Addictions Therapist by the International Institute for Trauma & Addiction Professionals.

Together, John and Shawn have co-authored and brought their unique treatment model of relapse prevention, An Ounce of Prevention: A Course in Relapse Prevention, to residential treatment centers across the United States, they have trained therapists at numerous national and international conferences, and most recently have trained many EAP programs associated with many State Unions.

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APA Reference
Shawn Leadem, J. (2017). Fear Will Not Keep You Sober. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 22 Jun 2017
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 22 Jun 2017
Published on All rights reserved.