“I just sit in my house and play X box”, “I don’t really have any friends at this point”. I hear statements like this all the time in my practice from clients struggling with substances. Isolation is a struggle for many. Isolation often seems to come with using drugs and alcohol, but for many, it continues (At least to some extent), in recovery. So why does this happen and why is it important? For many people, part of this isolation comes from having to end relationships in recovery. Ending relationships that aren’t serving us well is a healthy thing, but it can land us in a spot where we are suddenly really lacking relationships with others in our lives.
Additionally, many of us come into wanting to change our relationship with drugs and alcohol having found our use has negatively impacted the relationships we do have. This can leave us feeling incredibly lonely and isolated. Additionally, many of us find that we used drugs and alcohol as a way to bond with others. Without using substances, developing new relationships can feel like an incredibly daunting task. Getting out an engaging in the world when all we are wanting to do is stay home and hibernate can understandably feel like a big task, so why is being aware of when we start to isolate and taking steps to prevent it so important?
Firstly, isolation in and of itself can be a trigger for substance use. Feeling lonely and bored? Having a drink or using drugs can sound like a great way to have some fun and feel better. Secondly, having strong healthy relationships in our lives and building a solid base of support is an important part of living a healthy, happy, life. Additionally, having things we truly enjoy (ie. hobbies), is also an big part of overall happiness. Not that some of those things can’t be completely solitary, they can, but regardless of whether we do these things alone or with others, we need to have a wide variety of life experiences to begin to discover the things in life that bring us joy. Not only can isolation be a trigger for using, but human beings truly are social creatures, we need relationships with other people. They are actually an integral part of our health and happiness.
Questions about anything related to substance use/sobriety? Feel free to get in touch!