Learning to overcome feelings of isolation is a big part of overcoming your addiction. This is why many rehabilitation centers focus on helping you to build mutually supportive relationships through peer activities and support groups.
Many experts say that isolation is an enemy of sobriety – it could have fueled your addiction in the first place and can cause relapse, if you’re not careful.
The Dangers of Isolation
A successful recovery requires opening our hearts and minds, embracing our vulnerability, accepting love from ourselves and others and admitting to our powerlessness – all things that can’t occur during isolation.
Isolation is defined as “the condition of being alone, especially when this makes you feel unhappy.” Another definition: “The fact that something is separate and not connected to other things.” In other words, isolation means shutting everyone and everything else out of our hearts and minds and hiding your pain. Isolation holds us back from connecting with others who can help us strengthen our recovery ideals and drown out our inner addiction voice.
In fact, a popular study revealed that isolation can lead to more drug use – and connection can lead to less drug use. Researchers at the College of Natural Sciences in Austin, TX, found that rats who experienced social isolation were significantly more at risk of developing an addiction to drugs or alcohol when exposed to the substances than those who were permitted to remain in their social groups.
Warning Signs of Isolation
We all feel like we don’t belong at times – especially during early recovery when you’re trying to get a handle on how to act, think and socialize sober – but if this thinking turns into an urge to isolate, you’re likely on the wrong track. The good news is that you can turn it around. The first step: recognizing the warning signs of isolation.
- Feeling unable to connect with others
- Feeling that no one understands you and there’s no one to talk to
- Thinking that no one cares about you or wants you around
- Negative concepts of self (“I am no good”, “What am I good for?”)
- Feeling left out or abandoned
- Feeling hopeless
- Intensified cravings for drugs or alcohol
How to Feel Less Isolated During Recovery
Luckily, there are many ways to help yourself move away from isolation toward ongoing support and lasting sobriety. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Make amends. Making amends is a crucial component of healing and self-growth. It gives you the opportunity to rebuild your social network and reconnect with people who you’ve hurt.
- Go to meetings. You may have to attend a few support groups before you find one that feels right for you, but don’t stop trying. Once you do find a home recovery group, you’ll find a brand-new support system to help you deal with any feelings of isolation.
- Spend time with family. Even if not everyone in your family is supportive, there are likely one or two relatives who support you and your recovery. Reach out to them and include them in your recovery plans.
- Volunteer. Not only will volunteering expose you to new, like-minded people, but it will also help you to realize the positives in your own life.
- Build your self-confidence. Negative feelings about yourself may be at the root of your urge to isolate, so it’s important to add confidence-building to your isolation prevention plan. Consider practicing daily affirmations to remind yourself how worthy you are of a fulfilling, sober life.
- Ask for help. Recovery is an ongoing process with ups and downs – you don’t have to journey the long road alone. If you’re struggling with feelings of isolation, reach out to a counselor, sponsor, trusted friend or loved one. There are people who care about you, and they may surprise you in a positive way if you just ask for help.
Recovery Support at Spearhead Lodge
You don’t need to overcome addiction on your own. Our program teaches clients to rely on the community of peers around them, so they always have that vital resource when they need it. To learn more about how we can help you resist isolation and get your life back on healthy path, call us today: 866-905-4550.