Isolation Hinders Recovery from Addictions
Many alcoholics and drug addicts may see themselves as social people and “the life of the party.” Others tend to prefer isolation in a feeble attempt to keep their addiction a secret from others, or simply to avoid contact with other people in order to give their full attention to obliterating reality with alcohol and drugs. Similarly, families of alcoholics and addicts tend toward isolation because of the shame and guilt they feel. They don’t want to discuss the addiction problem with others; in fact, they do their best to hide the truth, even from themselves. When substance abusers and their families begin participating together in the recovery process, they have to leave isolation behind. Quality recovery takes place with the support of others who have faced the same situation.
Alcoholics and drug addicts are self-absorbed. They also tend to be depressed, a condition made worse by alcohol and drugs. Given these facts, it should come as no surprise that isolation is a symptom of addiction. As problems associated with addiction, such as troubled relationships and irresponsibility at work, increase, so does isolation. Drinking or using alone becomes more commonplace. Emotional isolation also is part of the pattern. Alcoholics and drug addicts lose interest in things they previously enjoyed, such as a favorite pastime or socializing with friends and co-workers.
In order to recover from addiction and to prevent relapse, solitude needs to be replaced with group support. People have a much better chance of getting sober and staying sober if they open themselves to the help of others. Attending twelve-step meetings and finding a sponsor that will guide and support you during the early recovery process is very important. Remember that you’re not alone and that there are many people willing to help you achieve long-term recovery if you find the courage to ask for help.
Families and loved ones benefit when they come out from behind closed doors to educate themselves about addiction and to join forces with other families in the same predicament. Loved ones, too, need to learn new ways of thinking and behaving. They find relief and comfort in group support because they can share the pain they have kept secret in isolation. Just as addicts learn to live without their substance of choice, families learn how to set healthy boundaries and how to take care of themselves. They come to discover that isolation does not make the problem go away.