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Loneliness in Recovery

Table of Contents

Isolation and Addiction Are Dangerous Cycles

People need social connections to thrive in this world. When you suffer from substance use disorder, isolation can lead to a downward spiral into addiction. When you begin using drugs or drinking, you may have friends who only hang out with you while you’re using. Eventually, you might decide to spend time alone with your substance for various reasons. It may be that you enjoy drinking alone or getting high alone. It could be that you get to the point that you don’t want to share with anyone else. Suicidal thoughts are likely when people who suffer from addiction are too lonely.

Isolation and addiction coexist and keep you feeling lonely. When you isolate and feel lonely, you are more likely to become addicted. When you suffer from addiction, you are more likely to suffer from being lonely or isolated. Ultimately, these two problems can have a cause-and-effect relationship. Addicted individuals can become lonely, and lonely individuals can become addicted.

Addiction Can Lead to Isolation

People who have substance use disorders are trying to avoid negative emotions. Unfortunately, some people turn to drugs to self-medicate depression or anger. The use of drugs then leads people to lash out at those around them. Family and friends eventually walk away from people in addiction because of their behaviors. Maybe they have stolen things from people in their life to pay for the drugs. Erratic and unpredictable behavior accompanying addiction drives people who do not suffer from addiction away. Eventually, suppose the substance use disorder is severe and has persisted for an extended period. In that case, most people in addiction are entirely alone.

COVID-19, Isolation, and Addiction

With the social distancing involved with the COVID-19 pandemic, people feel increasingly lonely. Addiction everywhere is on the rise because of job loss, losing loved ones, and not spending time with others as often. According to one report in California, problems caused by social distancing have resulted in more people turning to drugs and alcohol to cope with feelings of loneliness. People are also looking into addiction treatment more since the COVID-19 pandemic started.

Feelings of Loneliness Can Make You Feel Hopeless in Addiction

The feelings accompanying loneliness while in addiction can make you want to give up. How do you know if you are feeling lonely? People in addiction who suffer from loneliness often:

• Worry that they will be addicted the rest of their lives
• Feel misunderstood
• Lose interest in activities that they once enjoyed
• Detach themselves from others
• Feel left out or like no one cares about them

Isolation in Early Recovery

It is essential to rid yourself of old friends who are still using drugs or drinking and form healthy relationships with new people during your recovery. Recovery programs tell their clients to change their people, places, and things. In the recovery process, it is wise to reach out to people. You can make friends in rehab or support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous.

Making connections with other people in recovery will ultimately support you in maintaining your sobriety. They will not only have some common problems and emotions that you may be dealing with, but they are less likely to try to get you to relapse. Sometimes, you may feel lonely in your recovery because you cannot attend parties or even restaurants if these places are triggers for you.

Loneliness in Recovery Can Facilitate a Relapse

While loneliness can be a reason to use while you have a substance use disorder, this feeling can also lead to a relapse in your recovery. Feeling estranged from other people increases the chances for relapse in recovery, according to a recent study on addiction recovery. People who have no one to support them in their new way of living can fall back into old behavior patterns.

Sometimes, you can surround yourself with people and still feel lonely in your recovery. This feeling is typical with healing because you change thought patterns and learn healthy coping skills. Unfortunately, you may self-isolate with all these new changes because you feel awkward around others. However, you can take crucial steps to fight off loneliness in your addiction recovery to prevent relapse.

Initiate Social Networks

It is difficult for people to remain sober if they are isolated. Therefore, although you need to stay away from the people you got high with, it is wise to form a social network to combat loneliness. True friendships can help build self-esteem and give you accountability throughout your recovery. When people are held accountable in recovery, they are less likely to relapse. You can practice accountability with counselors in treatment and other companions.

A recent study found that forming social relationships with others is paramount to successfully recovering from addiction. Staying sober is not the only vital part of a successful recovery from substance use disorder. Forming positive and compassionate relationships with others can strengthen your recovery. Having strong attachments with people helps defeat the attachment to drugs and alcohol. Therefore, choosing to socialize while in recovery will oppose loneliness. In addition, numerous aftercare programs are available to help you stay in touch with people when you leave treatment so that you can keep connected.

Get Involved in Support Groups

There are many different support groups for people living in recovery. The 12-step support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA) are excellent places for people in recovery suffering from loneliness. In the 12-step programs, there is an emphasis on fellowship, and for a good reason. Sponsorship is a tool these groups use to help addicts stay clean and sober. Sponsorship is when one person who has completed the steps and has a reasonable amount of time sober assists another alcoholic or addict through their recovery.

To be successful with these sobriety programs, you need to form a personal bond with whoever you choose to be your sponsor. Another significant aspect of the AA or NA support groups is that the 12th step focuses on giving back and fellowship. Fellowship is a way for you to help other addicts and alcoholics with their efforts, either by being a sponsor or simply grabbing a coffee with another group member. In this way, you connect with other group members and socialize. You are making friends with like-minded people who share many of the same experiences and pain that you face.

Learn to Forgive Yourself

Letting go of mistakes made during your substance use disorder is vital to your character. It will be easier to make friends once you learn to love yourself again. Let go of the past and focus on the bright future. Self-isolation is dangerous to your recovery, so take some time to practice self-care techniques like exercise or journaling to help when you feel guilty.

Make Amends to People You Have Wronged

Making amends to those you hurt while addicted can allow individuals who love you to come back into your life. Addiction can cause people to avoid you for many reasons, so try to mend the relationships. Feeling abandoned in recovery is normal because you have removed toxic relationships from your life. Apologizing to hurt people will not always restore the relationship, but it will help you feel less shame and heal.

See a Therapist

If you are suffering from loneliness in recovery, find a therapist to assist you. Talking with someone about your emotions can change your perspective. A therapist can also give you the means to change thought patterns that lead you to feel lonely. Sometimes, it is good to talk with a third party that you can trust who has your best interest at heart. Some things may be hard to discuss with family and friends. A therapist can be an excellent platform for being honest throughout your recovery.

Grieve Your Losses

Grieving your losses can be therapeutic and help with feelings of loneliness. In addition, you may need to suffer the trauma that you have repressed while you were addicted. For example, you can grieve the loss of the friends you had to give up when you started the recovery journey. Most importantly, though, is mourning the loss of the drug or alcohol. Try writing a goodbye letter directly to the substance. Or you could write an obituary for the drug or drink and bury it. Writing and expressing these feelings of anger and loss can help you move on. In addition, mourning any losses will ultimately help you begin to heal properly.

Offer Help to Others

Providing help to others allows you to maintain sobriety and is excellent for your overall health. A significant aspect of the support groups that they focus on is fellowship. Practicing the fellowship principle of AA or NA will make you feel good about yourself. Being in service to others is rewarding and helps you stay connected to people. When you have a chance to help someone struggling with something that you have already wrestled with, please take it. You most likely remember the people who assisted with your recovery, and it will feel pleasant to give it back to someone else.

Addiction and isolation can be devastating cycles to find yourself in, and we can help. Granite Recovery Centers is passionately helping people suffering from a substance use disorder. If you are struggling with an addiction and are looking for answers, contact us to learn more about our drug treatment programs today.

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