Loneliness and isolation are the worst enemies of alcoholics and addicts. As the disease takes root, friends and loved ones slowly drift away. It’s not that they don’t love you anymore. It’s not that you don’t care about them anymore. It’s that the disease of addiction has taken over your life to the point where the substance is the only thing that matters. And the disease likes it like that.
How Isolation Happens
When your drinking or substance use becomes alcoholism or substance use disorder, you begin to hide how much and how often you are using. Fear of being found out, and, in turn, losing your job, children, home, and all of the other things which are essential to you, creates an atmosphere of secrecy. You start to hide your use and hide from other people. You live in constant fear of being “found out.”
This fear, and the resulting morbid familiarity of being utterly alone, are significant roadblocks to treatment. When someone is lonely, hope seems to be in short supply or gone altogether. You probably feel like:
- You cannot form meaningful connections.
- Nobody understands or cares.
- You aren’t worthy of love.
- You are too far gone to recover.
- If people knew what you were really like, you would lose everything.
None of these things are true; they’re your brain telling you lies to keep you sick. That’s what substance use disorder does: it tells you that you don’t even have a disease. It tells you that you are somehow defective. It says you chose this. That nobody wants you. That there is no hope.
Why Isolating Is Dangerous
With the current social-distancing requirements due to COVID-19, the danger of isolation is even more menacing. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) stressed in a recent Director’s Blog that drug and alcohol abuse is rising due to social distancing and its concomitant isolation. If you are already isolating due to your substance or alcohol abuse, you are at greater risk.
Getting Past Isolation
None of that has to be the case. Despite what your brain is telling you, there are people who want you, who understand, who care about you and want you to recover. If you have the willingness to heal, you can succeed. First, however, you have to get past what your brain is telling you.
Once you understand that you are isolating and that isolation is a warning sign that things are going from bad to worse, you can begin to move towards recovery. Sometimes everyone feels like they don’t belong, they’re not understood, or may not be a good person. Problems arise when you start to dwell on these things and allow them to pull you away from society.
However, saying “don’t dwell on it” isn’t helpful when you’re feeling isolated and alone with drugs or alcohol. Eventually, your substance of choice becomes a replacement for the society of friends and family. In addition to increased drug and alcohol use, isolation can, and often does, lead to depression, anxiety, and many other mental and emotional disturbances. Then, of course, the substances become “medicine” to treat these disorders. This behavior is known as “self-medicating.” Self-medicating the symptoms of an underlying emotional or psychiatric condition is frequently why people start drinking or using other substances in the first place.
Life Beyond Loneliness
The hardest thing you will have to do in your recovery is to seek treatment. But once you take that first step, whole vistas of opportunity and “life beyond your wildest dreams” – as corny as that may sound – await you. Getting treatment for your alcoholism or substance use disorder can provide the necessary tools to live a clean and sober life:
- Learning to reach out to others and building mutually supportive relationships
- Participation in 12-Step and other support fellowships
- Family sessions to help you and your loved ones open the pathway of communication
- Counseling to help you learn to cope with anger, anxiety, and other issues that may hinder your recovery
Of course, when you’re feeling trapped in the cycle of drinking or using alone, all of these things seem beyond reach. Your alcoholic/addicted mind tells you that you don’t have to step into the light of recovery. You start to believe that you can live a perfectly contented life just the way you are. You need to know that this is a lie. There is so much more to life than that little box.
You can stop the cycle of isolating and drinking or using, but you can’t do it alone. Everlast Recovery Centers will help you find the tools you need to live a happy, sober, joyous life. In a comfortable, home-like setting, you will start making connections, first with your Everlast family and, eventually, with the people who mean the most to you. Sitting down to home-cooked meals with your peers and staff, participating in counseling sessions and 12-Step meetings, and attending family or couples counseling sessions, you can relearn the social skills that have been buried under a chemical blanket. Healing yourself to heal your relationships with others is possible; there is no time like the present to start the process. When you feel like you’re entirely alone, you can call Everlast Recovery Centers at (951) 434-3869 to start a conversation about building the life you deserve. You will find out you’re not alone.