When you start a new life in recovery it is easy to feel alone and isolated. This feeling is normal, as your old social circle is stripped away. Most who struggle with addiction find their old friends were also the friends who used - and now you are avoiding putting yourself in a situation where substances are present.
Often family members and loved ones do not understand what you are going through, and although they may be supportive, it’s hard for them to relate.
What Is Loneliness?
Loneliness can occur at any time. It is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact. You do not have to be alone to feel lonely.
Loneliness can’t simply be treated by medications and the tools for dealing with loneliness are ones that you have to formulate yourself. If you’re feeling lonely in recovery, here are some suggestions for what to do about it.
1. Acknowledge Feelings Of Loneliness - Accept That It Is Normal
Accept that it’s normal to feel lonely sometimes. Part of coping with loneliness means acknowledging the feeling, accepting that it’s ok, and knowing you have the tools to deal with it and it will eventually pass.
When acknowledging your feelings of loneliness, make sure you are not isolating. Social isolation is the lack of social contacts and having few people to interact with regularly.
2. Go To Meetings Regularly
For individuals in recovery, attending regular group therapy or 12 Step meetings like AA is a way to connect to other sober people and it may be a good time to discuss feelings of loneliness. It is human nature to seek out like-minded individuals in order to feel connected. Building a strong, sober support network will discourage your feelings of loneliness.
3. Restore Relationships
It’s common for individuals with addiction to alienate family and friends. During the process of recovery from addiction, it can help feelings of loneliness to make amends with friends and family. Reach out to the people who you want in your life. Seek out friends and family that encourage and empower you.
Remember, restoring relationships doesn’t happen overnight - relationships are typically built through frequent, low-intensity contact. It also requires give and take, which means you might need to be a friend to someone else. If you’re taking the time to listen to others and reaching out to others when they need it, you’re also connecting, which helps remove the emotional detachment of being lonely.
4. Participate In Activities You Enjoy
Just because you’re alone doesn’t mean you are necessarily lonely. Being alone can be an opportunity to participate in activities you enjoy, like reading, writing, meditating, or listening to music.
It can also be an opportunity to meet new people through taking a class or joining a club. Fitness clubs offer a wide variety of classes from kickboxing to yoga or weight training - while other classes like cooking, art, or writing might help you discover new interests.
When you find yourself lonely, remember to take a deep breath and do something on the list above to take care of yourself.
If you or a loved one need help for an addiction and want to know more about group therapy or treatment options, feel free to contact us.