Addiction can be an incredibly lonely disease. Though you may have initially started drinking or using drugs in social situations, as the illness takes hold, the impulse to withdraw from the rest of the world gets stronger. Why do addicts isolate themselves, and how can you break the cycle?
What Makes Addiction So Isolating?
It’s common for people who have mental health disorders like anxiety and depression to have problems forming relationships with others. Using drugs or alcohol to self-medicate and drown out the inner voice telling you that you are worthless becomes a compulsion so strong, it eventually causes you to detach from anything that gets in the way of their drive to misuse substances and escape the real world.
The further your mental health deteriorates, and the more your disease progresses, the less you will desire to connect with other people. Addiction-related guilt can make you want to avoid facing others for fear they will tell you the uncomfortable truth about how much you are harming yourself. When you are alone, nobody can object to your behavior. Eventually, you build a wall around yourself that nobody else can pass through.
How to Overcome Isolation in Recovery
One of the first steps in the addiction recovery process is learning how to break down the barriers you have built around yourself so you can start to build the strong sober support network you need to succeed in drug and alcohol rehab.
For many people, the built-in peer group they meet by participating in 12-step programs is their first introduction to what this support network will look like, and how it will benefit them. In these groups, you will meet other people who are experiencing many of the same challenges as you are, and who will hold you accountable for achieving your goals and moving in a positive direction. To fully maximize your participation in these groups, you have to get past your mindset of isolation and learn how to ask for help when you feel frightened or hopeless.
Moving Through Isolation
Once you learn to recognize your desire to isolate yourself is a sign that you are regressing to your old habits, there is hope of turning things around. It’s OK to feel like you don’t belong at times. Just don’t let these negative thoughts take over. Not every recovery group will be exactly the right fit for you, so it may take some trial and error before you find a setting where you feel comfortable expressing yourself and sharing your feelings. Be patient and tell yourself it will come with time.
When you are at meetings, practice active listening skills and try to empathize with what others are saying. Look for ways in which their thoughts, feelings and behavioral patterns are similar to yours, and understand that they may feel just as disconnected as you do at times.
When you can look around and realize you have surrounded yourself with a network of compassionate people who have the desire to help you, it will give you the self-confidence you need to end your cycle of isolation. You truly are not alone on this journey, and there is every reason to feel hopeful about what the future has in store.
Drug and Alcohol Recovery for Women
When you are ready to accept that you need help for your drug or alcohol addiction, Canyon Crossing Recovery is here for you. At our accredited women’s-only treatment facility, we offer a 12-step approach to therapy, in addition to our well-rounded holistic care options. Contact us today to learn about beginning your recovery journey here.