Can Loneliness Affect Recovery?

As human beings, we need to be social. However, each of us has experienced periods of loneliness in life. For people with mental health or addiction issues, loneliness can be a common occurrence. The Cigna U.S. Loneliness Index indicates that younger generations experience higher levels of loneliness, leading to many mental health and behavioral problems. Further, many begin using drugs and alcohol partly because of loneliness and boredom. By the time they develop a substance use disorder, they are among others that also use drugs or alcohol.

Addiction and loneliness make a mutually reinforcing vicious cycle. Loneliness can be both the cause and the effect of addiction. However, when you decide to manage your addiction and endure treatment, it is essential to develop a strategy to combat loneliness when you are in recovery. Let’s look at how loneliness can affect your recovery and what you can do to combat feelings of loneliness. 

Loneliness and Treatment

Most treatment plans follow a specific regimen. After you begin treatment, you may experience various emotions, including boredom and loneliness, sometimes even with peers around. Combating boredom and loneliness is a real battle. You might feel this sense of loneliness during treatment because you understand that recovery will be a challenging journey. 

Additionally, your emotions could fluctuate, thus causing loneliness to occur in cycles. Sometimes when you rest in isolation, negative self-talk may surface, creating a lot of self-doubts. You soon find yourself lingering between this space of hope and doubt. Treatment like recovery is an ongoing patient process; you will overcome these feelings of doubt. 

Is It Normal to Feel Lonely During Recovery?

The loss of the relationship with substances can cause pain and loneliness in the early stages of recovery. However, it is essential to remember that this severed relationship is necessary for lasting recovery. Further, additional waves of loneliness may surge because you are no longer with your old social circles. Remember, rebuilding healthy relationships is part of a successful recovery. 

While feeling lonely in recovery is a common experience, you need to adapt to the new support systems and routines. These can be stressors that disrupt your sleep and increase anxiety; however, with persistence, you can overcome negative thoughts, habits, and impulses with ones that support your recovery. Further,  you will be required to make a lot of lifestyle changes that may cause unsettling “out-of-place” feelings, which could intensify feelings of loneliness if you do not address your feelings. 

Overcoming Loneliness

Perhaps the most crucial part of overcoming loneliness is learning how to connect with yourself. Managing loneliness is about setting boundaries with yourself and others. Establishing your self-worth helps you understand how far you have come in your recovery and what you have gained. You and your recovery are precious and important. Once you establish your sense of self, loneliness can turn into blissful solitude. 

Acknowledgment of this emotional reality can help you reconcile with the emotion. It is sometimes known as making peace with yourself. More practically, you can choose to participate in exercises such as journaling, reading, or meditation. When you can use your loneliness to look inward and reflect upon your journey, you are utilizing your time more effectively. 

Maintain a Healthy Support Network

Rebuilding a positive social network is essential in recovery. Take time to schedule consistent visits with friends, family, and peers.  Utilize all your resources to do so, video calls, phone calls, email, etc. When you connect with family and friends who care about your treatment and recovery process, you establish safe relationships where you can feel comfortable reaching out in times of loneliness.  

It is also essential to continue to attend 12-Step meetings such as AA or NA. Additionally, group therapies can be beneficial in combating loneliness. Social interaction is important to help you avoid negative stressors that lead to feelings of loneliness.  

Can I Seek Help About My Loneliness?

Your mental health, addiction, and behavioral issues are intertwined. Therefore, seeking professional care can help you learn about the emotional disruptions that create feelings of loneliness. Professionals such as counselors or therapists have experience in helping you confront your innermost feelings. Seeing a professional is an essential part of treatment and recovery success. Seeing a professional therapist or counselor also benefit you in the following ways:

  • Help you understand the sources of your stress, anxiety, and loneliness
  • Help you share your feelings openly 
  • Provide you with helpful techniques that you can use at home
  • Develop a positive outlook 
  • Address underlying trauma related to your substance use

Embrace Your Feelings

Do not ignore your feeling of loneliness; work to embrace and address them. Loneliness is a normal part of the human experience and recovery process. Listen well to it and nurture self-compassion. Most importantly, use your loneliness as a guide to learn new relationship skills and seek community. This new journey may be a doorway to connecting with yourself and others in ways you never thought possible.

At Laguna Shores Recovery, we work to help guide you through every stage of addiction recovery, including the loneliest moments. We understand and promote the importance of friendships and community in recovery. Our counselors, therapists, and staff are motivated to create a comfortable and secure environment for you to flourish. We also support you with a variety of treatment plans and programs. Our facility is also pet-friendly because we find that pets are very helpful for combating loneliness. So if you are seeking treatment while experiencing loneliness or isolation, we are here to help you. With 24/7 admissions, we ensure that you have someplace to reach out to at any point. If you are currently struggling to manage your addiction or recovery, then the time to get help is today. Find out more and call us today at (866) 906-3203, and our experienced staff can help answer your questions or concerns about your addiction and recovery.