Addiction is one of the most lonely diseases known to humans – it repeatedly tells you you’re not good enough, not worth other people’s love, and are better off alone. This is why many individuals struggling with addiction often withdraw from their loved ones and isolate themselves. Isolation and addiction are tricky because one can cause the other in both directions. In some cases, people are lonely because they are addicted to drugs or alcohol, while others abuse drugs and alcohol because they are lonely. Even in recovery, isolation can be a deadly trigger for relapse. Educating yourself on isolation in addiction recovery is crucial, so you can pay attention to when you are beginning to isolate. By doing this, you can reach out and get back on track in your sobriety.
Addiction Naturally Isolates You
It is not a secret that people struggling with substance abuse often use drugs or alcohol to cope with various mental health issues and as a way of escaping from reality. As addiction progresses, these individuals will typically try to cover up how bad it has gotten, isolating themselves from friends and family, hoping that no one will notice that their habit has gotten out of control. This can lead to a loss of friendships and relationships with loved ones because eventually, people get tired of trying when all they receive is the cold shoulder.
Isolation and loneliness are common in recovery if you are not coping correctly. While in recovery, it can be easy to let those negative thoughts take over and believe that you are not worth healing. Many individuals that are out of treatment and working to maintain sobriety on their own may begin to slip and isolate themselves for fear of others finding out they got bad again. As you push others away, you are more at risk of relapse.
Why Do People Isolate in Recovery?
There are multiple reasons that a person may isolate while in recovery. Recovery is often associated with getting better and moving away from the unhealthy coping mechanisms of addiction. However, individuals can still fall into these tendencies if their recovery begins to become shaky. If a person feels guilt or shame associated with how they treated friends or loved ones in the past because of their addiction, they may isolate to avoid seeing or talking to those individuals.
A person may also isolate if they have a co-occurring disorder alongside their addiction. Symptoms of specific mental health conditions can cause an individual to isolate, such as depression and anxiety. Someone may also isolate in recovery because they are scared of running into potential triggers in the outside world. They may never leave their house or sober living residence because they don’t want to come into contact with triggers, but this is damaging to recovery. Recovery should be about learning healthy coping mechanisms to cope with triggers rather than avoiding them. For these reasons, a person may begin to isolate and put their recovery at risk. This is why it is essential to have proper coping mechanisms, a healthy support system, and restored hope to ensure continued recovery.
How Do I Overcome Isolation in Recovery?
Just as there are multiple reasons a person may isolate in recovery, there are numerous ways to cope and overcome isolation. Knowing the proper ways to break through your loneliness and avoid the feeling of isolation will help keep your recovery on track.
A way to move past the guilt and shame associated with past actions is to either make amends or make peace if you cannot make amends. Making amends is a crucial step of twelve-step programs, but anyone in addiction recovery should do so. When you make amends, you are genuinely apologizing for your actions and showing the other person that you are taking recovery seriously and want to earn back their trust. If you cannot make amends, then make peace knowing that you tried and accept that you cannot force someone to forgive you.
Those struggling with addiction often have low self-esteem, but improving this can help you fight against isolation and loneliness. You may think that you are not worth other people’s time or love because of who you are and where you’ve been. Unlearning these thoughts and understanding that you are worth love and support will have a vast difference in your life. Boost your self-esteem and learn to love yourself, so you believe that you deserve healthy relationships and love.
Cut Out the Bad
Not having the proper support can lead to depression, anxiety, and loneliness, often driving an individual to isolate themselves. In recovery, you will most likely have to cut out past friends that do not support your sobriety. Cutting out these unhealthy relationships will leave more room for sober individuals to come into your life and encourage you to live a healthy, happy, and sober life.
Create a Healthy Support System
Having a reliable support system is crucial to a successful recovery journey. You may isolate yourself from others because they do not support your recovery and sobriety. Cutting these people out leaves you room to bring new people into your life that can function as your sober support system. You can lean on these individuals during the hard days and celebrate triumphs together. Open up and see the great sober friends you can make in recovery!
Isolation is a common relapse trigger, making it damaging to addiction recovery. Many individuals that have gone through addiction know that isolation is a common side effect of the disease. Still, they may not be prepared for the feelings of loneliness that recovery can sometimes bring. As you go through recovery, you will have to be honest and vulnerable with yourself and others, leading to feelings of shame and guilt based on past actions that occurred during active addiction. You may also feel worried about encountering triggers after treatment, so you work to avoid them by isolating yourself away from the outside world. Recognizing these reasons for isolation can help you catch yourself when you want to isolate yourself and engage in healthy coping mechanisms to overcome it. At Everlast Recovery Centers, we can help you overcome isolation even after your treatment. Call us today at 866-DETOX-25 to get back on track.