How to Handle Loneliness in Addiction Recovery
We need one another to survive. A human connection can help people get through the toughest situations, and this holds true for addiction recovery.
If you experience a substance use disorder, you may have discarded healthy relationships as drugs or alcohol gained control over your life. That, in turn, leads to loneliness, which may exacerbate your substance use disorder and cause you to sink even deeper into addiction. You may, in an effort to alleviate loneliness, choose to associate with peers who also have an addiction.
An important part of addiction recovery is restoring healthy human connections and eliminating false friendships tied to addictive behaviors. What is the best way to overcome the loneliness that comes with a substance use disorder and replace it with new, healthy relationships in drug rehab and beyond?
Making Human Connection in Addiction Recovery
For many people, relationships breed happiness. That is why restoring relationships during addiction recovery is so important. However, it is a difficult journey back from the social isolation that is a standard element of substance use disorders.
Dr. David Sack, in his addiction recovery blog, suggests ways that people with an addiction can learn to overcome the crippling loneliness that follows a substance use disorder. His suggestions include:
- Taking time to grieve the loss of your former “best friend,” drugs and alcohol. It is normal to feel shock, anger and loss during the withdrawal and recovery process.
- Joining a support group during addiction recovery, as these meetings can help you connect with people experiencing the same struggles to rejoin society and stay sober. There are many addiction aftercare programs available to help you stay connected with networks that support your recovery efforts.
- Making amends with others when you can, as this is an important part of addiction recovery. Addiction drives a wedge between people; it is possible you wronged someone you cared about. While the relationship may have been permanently damaged, showing that you are making an effort to recover may mend the breach.
- Using the Internet to talk with others about staying sober. There are many free recovery groups that allow you to remain connected to a caring group of people going through the same thing you are.
- Trying new things by diversifying interests can expand your life in new ways. Taking a class or joining a meet-up are simple exercises in staying connected to those around you.
- Working to give back to those around you, which can make you feel good. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or the local humane society can be a good way to connect with people and eliminate social isolation.
- Continuing to work on those feelings of isolation by recognizing them as part of the process of addiction recovery. Balancing loneliness by engaging with other people is important, but there is nothing wrong with being alone and recognizing your emotions as part of life.
These activities can build confidence as you learn new social skills, expand friendships and try new things.