Research indicates that the loneliness of addiction can be uncomfortable and frightening, but it can also be a sign that you need to take steps to avoid the feelings of addiction isolation and turn inward. The cycle of loneliness in addiction is not a sign that you have failed or that you are completely alone forever.
The cycle of loneliness will look a bit different depending on your stage of addiction and recovery.
- If you are still addicted and haven’t sought help, you are more likely to feel very lonely because people around you are pulling away or because you have pulled away.
- If you are entering recovery, you might feel lonely because you are far away from friends and family or because your family doesn’t support your decision.
- If you have completed treatment, you might feel lonely because you don’t have as many acquaintances as you once did, giving up socializing with those with whom you once did drugs or alcohol. Similarly, you might feel lonely because no one understands what you are going through.
No matter what step you are in, you can learn how to deal with these feelings through recovery programs. With recovery programs, you can acquire skills that help you at each stage of the cycle of loneliness.
With addiction isolation, you need to first accept what you are feeling. While in recovery, therapies like mindfulness can encourage you to be aware of your present feelings and accept them for what they are rather than try and push them away.
With addiction loneliness, it is important to stop and think about what you are feeling.
- Remember that loneliness is an emotion.
- In the cycle of loneliness, we attempt to push away uncomfortable emotions.
- People turn to things like drugs or alcohol to temporarily find relief from uncomfortable emotions.
- They end up feeling even more uncomfortable.
So it is important to avoid the desire to run out and do something to immediately alleviate what you are feeling and to first think about how you feel, accept it, and think about what changes you can employ in the short and long term to help you cope.
Addiction can damage relationships, making it challenging to communicate with others. With recovery, you can learn how to make changes for the best.
- Some changes can help you alter your thoughts and feelings, like coping skills learned in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.
- Some changes can help you improve your communication and rebuild relationships so that you have a support network, with things like Family Therapy or Skill Building.
With the loneliness of addiction, you might feel alone even when you are surrounded by friends or family. In some cases, family therapy can integrate those closest to you so that they can help you identify and sit with uncomfortable emotions. But other times, you still feel lonely.
When you still feel lonely, even after accepting your emotions and making changes, it is time to reach out for social support.
You might not think people will want to hear from you, but that’s untrue. Many people love when a friend or family member reaches out, no matter how long it has been. The surprise makes it even better. You can contact old friends, and distant relatives, and you don’t have to share why you are reaching out, just that you wanted to catch up.
If you don’t have friends or family to whom you can turn, you might consider reaching out to people from your drug or alcohol rehab center, sober friends you have met, or people in your community Twelve Step programs.
If you still need social support, maybe this is an opportunity for you to start a group. If there aren’t many support groups in your area, you can take steps to deal with addiction isolation by making one.
You can also try helping others. A good way to overcome feelings of loneliness is to connect with others by volunteering or helping. This can take the form of providing social support for others in an internet chat room or volunteering at a church, hospital, nursing home, or daycare.
If you are in therapy, you can ask your therapist about other groups or volunteer activities in your area. Reach out to Liberty House today to learn more about overcoming the loneliness of addiction.