If you’re in the process of recovering from addiction, you know it isn’t easy. Recovery is a life-long process that requires a lot of time and support. Usually, you can find those things through community peer support groups, group therapy, and the help of loving friends and family. But we’re living in unprecedented times as COVID-19 has changed the world. The usual community options aren’t the same. While many 12-step meetings and peer support groups have moved online, you may still feel isolated and alone. Now, more than ever, you need to understand the risk of isolation and how you can find resources to help.
Understanding the Relationship of Addiction and Isolation
In many ways, addiction is a disease of isolation, separating you from family and friends. Addiction can:
- force you to keep secrets and hide parts of your life from others
- encourage you to stop doing things you once loved
- make you feel like the very people that try to help you are against you.
- trick you into thinking that lying keeps you safe
- push you so far away from others that you feel alone and vulnerable
If you’re not careful, you’ll turn to substance use for comfort during these difficult times, starting the cycle of addiction all over again. But there’s hope. The more you understand the risks of isolation, the more you’ll work to stay connected to others. With connection comes accountability. And accountability saves lives and prevents relapse.
Here’s what you need to know about isolation during addiction recovery and a few tips to help you stay connected.
Lack of Accountability Can Lead to Poor Decision-Making
When you feel alone, your mind starts to play tricks on you. You may start thinking irrationally, believing the lie that no one cares about you. This kind of negative self-belief can leave you spiraling out of control. Decisions that were once easy for you to make may become difficult. Your thinking may become cloudy. You might feel uncertain and unsure. You might even feel paranoid. Eventually, you might give in to addictive cravings.
When you’re surrounded by accountability partners and mentors, others are there to help you stay on course. But when you feel alone, challenging addiction cravings and triggers can feel impossible, which can lead to harmful decisions.
Some common signs that isolation might be affecting your mind include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Hallucinations or “out of body” experiences
- Losing track of time (i.e. not knowing what day or time it is)
Lack of Social Connection Affects Your Self-Worth
Isolation becomes even more dangerous when it starts to affect our emotions. It’s no secret that when you’re feeling content, you tend to make positive, healthy, and constructive choices. But isolation triggers the dark side of your emotions. Being alone for long periods of time can make us feel unwanted, rejected, and even forgotten.
Combating these emotions can be difficult. Studies show that alcohol use and depression are closely related. Research reveals that, more often than not, substance abuse begins with feelings of sadness or rejection.
Isolation is often part of a vicious cycle for people overcoming addiction. The cycle starts with a lack of connection, which can make us feel sad, alone, and even angry. Addictive substances then rewire our brains to depend on drugs and alcohol for a sense of pleasure and reward. Eventually, we start to have cravings. While we have the power to ignore cravings and triggers, it’s much easier to succumb to them when we’re isolated.
Monitor your emotions closely when you’re isolated. Remember, even if you feel alone, you’re not. A mentor or accountability partner is just a phone call or text message away.
Isolation might be affecting your emotions and self-worth if you feel:
- Low self-esteem
What Can You Do to Avoid the Risks of Isolation?
Isolation in the midst of recovery increases the chance of relapse. But there are several steps you can take to avoid the risks associated with isolation. You can monitor your mental and emotional health. You can create virtual check-in days. You can reach out via phone, email, video call, or text message when you’re feeling, weak, down, or uninspired. You need to know the risks, but you don’t need to be afraid. Instead, adjust and find virtual ways to stay connected to others socially.
A few ways you can combat isolation by connecting with others virtually include:
- Attending a virtual concert
- Joining an online book club
- Organizing or attending a Netflix party
- Planning a web-based game night
- Attending virtual church services
- Hosting a digital dinner party
- Starting a remote movie club
- Organizing a virtual talent show with family and friends
So call up a few of your like-minded peers and plan creative, sober events. It’ll help keep you from feeling isolated and provided much-needed social connection.
Embrace & Continue Your New Life with Genesis Recovery
At Genesis Recovery, we believe in the concept of beginning again. Our mission is to help restore lives broken by the disease of addiction. We know how isolating addiction can be. We also know how hard recovery can seem in a socially distant world. But we’re here for you every step of the way. We believe that because of our faith, we are never alone. Let us help you find a full and abundant life.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, know that you are not alone. Our team is ready to support you. Contact a member of our team today by calling 619-797-7319. We’re available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.