Loneliness is a dangerous emotion to those who are recovering from addiction. Feeling alone or isolated from the rest of the world is an overwhelming feeling that may consume you and ultimately lead to the urge to pick up a drink or a drug.
Spending time alone doesn’t necessarily lead to loneliness. At the same time, you don’t have to be alone to feel lonely. There are times when you may feel a sense of being completely alone and isolated even in a room full of people. You may feel like you don’t fit in or that you can’t really relate to other people. You think no one would understand the real you, or that they wouldn’t accept you if they actually knew you. You may pull inside yourself and have a hard time reaching out to others. What should you do about loneliness in addiction recovery?
Importance of a Support Network
Few if any alcoholics or addicts can recover without the support of other people. Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous work because they are based on mutual support. People get together and share their experiences. They let each other know what has worked in their recovery and what has not.
When you participate in AA or NA, you will realize that you are not fighting this battle by yourself. Others need your presence at meetings, and they want to hear about your experiences as well. They will point out to you when they can see that you are making progress and they will offer support when you are going through difficult times. Members of AA or NA will listen to what you’re thinking and feeling if you let them. Building a support network is the core of recovery.
Why Loneliness Is Dangerous
But sometimes you feel uncomfortably alone. Feelings of loneliness can quickly grow out of proportion. Your feelings may accelerate from yearning for the company of one or more close friends to believing you aren’t worth loving or that you will never be close to people again. The more you dwell on these negative thoughts and feelings, the more hopeless you feel. The more hopeless you feel, the more compelled you will be to pick up a drink or a drug so that you can make the unpleasant feelings go away.
If you feel anxiously apart from other people in recovery, it’s only a matter of time until you reach out to the type of people you feel most comfortable with. This could include old friends who are not sober, drug dealers who have been a familiar part of your life or anyone who isn’t supportive of the idea that recovery can work if you let it. The point is that if you don’t overcome your feelings of isolation, eventually you will be desperate to alleviate your loneliness, and there’s a good chance you’ll reach out to the wrong group of people or even pick up a drink or a drug.
Getting Past a Sense of Isolation
If you have been to meetings where you have felt like you don’t fit in, it may have triggered a sense that you were in the wrong place. You may have felt that people at meetings were different from you, and before you knew it, you started to isolate. As you interrupted the habit of going to meetings regularly, you may have started to feel like there was no point in reaching out to others.
There are plenty of meetings to choose from. If you are feeling disconnected, try to figure out why. It may be that you are comparing other members to yourself and focusing on differences instead of trying to identify with their experiences. Try going to some different meetings. Try reaching out to people whom you have never met before. Make the effort to use some phone numbers.
Resist the urge to cut yourself off from other people. You need other people in order to recover from active drug or alcohol addiction. The way to get past isolation is one day at a time.