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Coping With Feelings of Isolation After Addiction

Addicts can be isolationists by nature. Many begin using drugs and alcohol because of feelings of social awkwardness, and ultimately develop an addiction that stops them from learning how to interact with others comfortably without “assistance.” When these patients go to rehab and stop using, they find that their old social discomfort returns, oftentimes with a vengeance. Many return to their isolationist ways and, as a result, feel tempted to use or drink.

When you feel like you’re spending too much time alone in recovery, you can:

  • Go online. It’s a good start, and it helps you connect with others while giving you the chance to practice your interactions without feeling put on the spot by an in-person exchange. Check out a recovery forum and “meet” someone new.
  • Go to a meeting or a support group. It’s a safe space where people practice non-judgment as a rule. While you don’t have to share with the group if you don’t want to, you’ll likely meet someone new during breaks, or before or after the meeting.
  • Take off your headphones. Or turn off your phone. If you walk around constantly engaged with electronic devices like iPods or cellphones then you are not accessible to those around you and tend to “live inside your own head” more than is healthy.
  • Ask how your coffee server is doing. If you get coffee daily, hit the same gas station regularly or have another spot where you’re a “regular,” say “hi” to the employees at these locations. You can practice casual interactions without any pressure to follow up. If it goes badly or you feel uncomfortable, you can always start over again at the next coffee shop!
  • Get moving. It doesn’t matter what you do – just move. Get off the couch. Leave the house. Go for a walk. You never know who you’ll run into or where you’ll end up. Sitting at home can be depressing, and depression can make you want to relapse. Keeping moving may help you to avoid the static feeling that comes with too much isolation.

Avoiding isolation can be a daily struggle but it’s one that must be fought and won. What do you do when you feel like you’ve been spending too much time alone or when loneliness starts to overcome you? Leave us a comment below and tell us how you deal with isolation in recovery.