The Connection Between Loneliness and Addiction

Did you know that spending time with loving friends and family members is one of the most important things you can do to live a happy lifestyle? Multiple independent studies prove that individuals who enjoy satisfying emotional connections with other people are more likely to feel fulfilled. Conversely, loneliness causes suffering — and in those who are recovering from addiction, it can be the final stop on a trip to relapse.

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Addiction Relapse Prevention by Avoiding HALT

Avoiding loneliness is one of the most important addiction relapse prevention tips. It is part of the acronym HALT: Hunger, Anger, Loneliness and Tired. Experiencing any of these feelings weakens the resistance to bad decisions — think of a starved person who chooses fast food when healthier options are waiting at home. Keep in mind that loneliness isn’t the same thing as being alone; instead, loneliness is feeling empty or separate from other people.  That’s why it’s possible to feel lonely even when a person is among friends.

How Loneliness Affects You

It is extremely difficult to cope with everyday living when you feel alone. Sharing experiences and feelings with one another is a way of providing — and getting — support. This support might include feedback and advice, physical help, information or simply listening. A lonely individual might feel there is no one to turn to in good times or bad. When loneliness is a chronic problem, drugs or alcohol might provide temporary relief. For example, a person who experiences social anxiety might drink or do drugs to make going to parties easier or more enjoyable. For some people, this can lead to a lifetime of problems with addiction.

Chronic loneliness leads to several problems. Depression, which commonly occurs alongside addiction, is an extremely common result of loneliness. Insomnia and high blood pressure are other problems commonly associated with loneliness. Suicide occurs more frequently among individuals who are lonely. Without an adequate social network of individuals who don’t use drugs or alcohol, it is extremely likely that a lonely recovering addict will relapse.

Managing Lonely Feelings

loneliness and addictionIt’s all too easy for a recovering addict to find solace among a community of people who share the same sense of solitude and also use drugs or alcohol. It is extremely dangerous for a lonely recovering addict to socialize with others who still use. If you feel lonely and are trying to stay sober, the best thing you can do is find a new group of friends who don’t use. This might be easier than you think.

To avoid relapse, call your sponsor, or another friend or family member who you have a connection with. Your local church, synagogue or house of worship can be a key resource. Go to a 12-Step or recovery support group meeting, and don’t be afraid to share your feelings. Everyone has felt lonely at one time or another. You can also consider adopting a cat or a dog, provided you feel ready for the responsibility. Pets are wonderful company, and they’re also proven depression-fighters.

For More Information, Call 12 Keys Rehab

If you’re feeling lonely and are concerned about relapse, or if you have already relapsed, call 12 Keys Rehab for more information.

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The Addiction Blog