The real dangers of isolation

…And how loneliness can fuel addiction

Isolation and addiction can go hand in hand. They can form a nasty vicious cycle all of their own, because when we are alone and disconnected from those around us, our thoughts become louder than the outside noise of friends, family, and society. And it can be difficult to manage our thoughts when we’re alone. This is exactly when addiction can take root.
People may turn to substances because they are lonely and have difficulty relating to others. As the addict becomes more addicted, the addict may have a very hard time interacting with other people, which leads to more isolation and loneliness.

Addiction to drugs and alcohol may not just be an effect of isolation but also the cause of isolation. Many people turn to substances because they are lonely, and many people are lonely because they are addicted to substances.

The compulsion to use alcohol or other drugs is so strong that the addict gradually detaches from anyone or anything that gets in the way, and he or she becomes more and more isolated. Nothing can compete with the drive to get high or to escape from reality at all costs. The further you descend into addiction the less connected you feel to other human beings.

If you want to overcome addiction, you have to overcome isolation. That’s why the most effective way out of addiction involves participating in support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Smart Recovery. In these groups, you will find people who have experienced what you have. These are people who can understand what you are going through because they have been there, too.

But even in the meetings, you will need to get over the urge to keep yourself to yourself. Instead, ask for help from others. No one can understand your struggles if you don’t let them know when you are feeling scared or vulnerable, and people can’t help if you don’t let anyone know you need support.

The pull of isolation is a big reason why so many newly-sober addicts relapse. You can worry you don’t fit in, or you can convince yourself that you can manage by yourself. The urge to be by alone will eventually lead you back to your old habits. But if you can recognise that the urge to isolate is a sign that you’re in trouble and you can, in that moment, turn to others around you, there’s a real hope of a lasting recovery, freedom from addiction and isolation.

Is this a problem you’re facing right now? If so, please get in touch at anna@kingsleycounselling.com for a free 10-minute call.

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