Substance abuse takes a toll on every aspect of a user’s life, especially their relationships with others. As the addiction deepens and they become further withdrawn into themselves, their desire to maintain functional relationships with friends and family fades away as their drinking or drug use begins to take a higher and higher priority in their life.
Similarly, many people begin using drugs or alcohol because they feel isolated and have trouble relating to other people. Those who are living with stress, anxiety or depression may see drugs and alcohol as an escape from reality. They become trapped in a constant cycle of fear, guilt and denial in which they continue to misuse substances despite the many negative consequences.
Addiction Is a Lonely Disease
There is a common misconception that people who have developed an addiction to drugs or alcohol have done so because they have somehow failed or given into a weakness. However, addiction treatment professionals know this stigma is false. The American Psychiatric Association defines addiction as a chronic brain disease characterized by distorted thinking and behavior.
If a young adult in your life seems to be pulling away from you, their substance misuse could be at the root of their behavior. The further the cycle of addiction progresses, the less value the individual places on relationships with others, and the more their relationship with their substance of choice deepens. They begin to ignore important people like family, friends, teachers and coaches in favor of spending time drinking or using drugs.
Warning Signs of Isolating Behavior
How can you tell if someone you care about is withdrawing from the world in favor of addictive behaviors? Here are some signs to look out for.
- Increased secrecy
- Spending an inordinate amount of time alone in their room
- Unwillingness to talk about their recent activities
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyable hobbies
- Low self-esteem
- Inability to recognize their value
- Mood swings, including irritability
- Reckless or irresponsible behavior
- Absenteeism from school or work
How to Help a Loved One in Isolation
If you have begun to worry that someone you care about is living in isolation and struggling with substance misuse, it can be challenging to know how to start the conversation. Often, family members and friends are afraid to reach out to someone who is clearly in pain because they are worried they might say something that would make the problem worse. Here are some of the top do’s and don’ts if you are trying to reach someone who is becoming increasingly withdrawn.
- Do: Show compassion. Express your love and concern, and tell them you’ll be there when they’re ready to talk about it.
- Don’t: Be impatient. Saying something like “I don’t understand why you can’t just snap out of it” is not only unhelpful, but can make the person feel even more guilt and shame that they don’t feel normal without using alcohol or drugs.
- Do: Be proactive. If your loved one has become so isolated that they are unwilling to get out of bed, shower or leave the house, you need to get them help immediately. These are signs of severe depression that can lead to thoughts of suicide.
- Don’t: Nag. If you are repeating the same empty phrases over and over, the person will become less receptive to hearing what you have to say.
Spearhead Lodge Can Help You Break Through to Your Loved Ones
If you love a young man who has begun to show signs of isolation and possible drug and alcohol abuse, don’t wait to call us at Spearhead Lodge for help. It’s possible your family member or friend has become so detached from their emotions that they don’t realize how bad things have gotten. You don’t have to fight this battle on your own. Reach out to us for world-class addiction support for someone you care about.