How Isolation Impacts Substance Abuse

How Isolation Impacts Substance Abuse

Isolation and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand, with one thriving on the other. A person addicted to drugs or alcohol often spends a lot of time isolating, which can increase their feelings of loneliness. Living life with a substance use disorder can also be quite lonely. Finding help for both emotional distress and addiction is important for everyone to lead healthy lives that don’t revolve around isolation.

Survey On Loneliness Shows How Many People Suffer 

In the age of the internet, societies across the globe have become connected in ways previously unseen. Yet as easily as we can instantly reach out to someone across the street or around the world through our electronics, these very devices lend themselves to people isolating themselves in great numbers. 

A survey done on loneliness pointed out that one in six U.S. adults has at least one mental health condition, and a consistent thread among them is feeling lonely. The survey states that loneliness impacts a person’s mortality similar to that of someone who smokes 15 cigarettes daily. Other findings from the loneliness study include:

  • Adults considered to be Generation Z and Millennials (ages 18-37) express feeling a greater deal of loneliness and poor health than older generations. 
  • More students feel lonely than retired people.
  • 46% of responders said they sometimes or always feel alone.
  • Loneliness crosses all ranges, with similar numbers among genders and races. 
  • 54% often or always feel that no one really knows them well. 

The survey showed that people who engage in regular in-person interactions and activities report feeling less lonely than those who isolate. They also report better mental and physical health. 

How Isolation and Substance Abuse Intersect 

Often a person who is dealing with difficult emotions or mental health issues ends up seeking solace from them by using drugs or alcohol. What starts out as a misguided attempt at self-medication can quickly turn into a full-blown addiction. Many people who feel isolated go down this path, hoping that they can dilute their feelings of loneliness by drinking or using enough drugs to cover them up. Ironically, the substance use disorder they develop contributes to the same problem they were hoping to overcome. 

Isolation and substance abuse often accompany each other in part because addiction lends itself to a certain amount of isolation from others. Some reasons for this include:

  • Hiding drug or alcohol usage from loved ones: Most people don’t want others to know they are abusing substances, including family, friends, and co-workers. These individuals tend to stay home or turn down opportunities to socialize often in order to keep anyone from seeing evidence that their lives have devolved into substance abuse. 
  • Spending a lot of time drinking or using drugs: Before an addiction develops, most people have hobbies they enjoy. This can include informal get-togethers with others, sports teams, and social groups. A substance use disorder demands a lot of time from a person, leaving many people to decrease the amount of time they spend doing pastimes that used to mean a lot to them. 
  • Emotional Distress and Mental Illness Increase With Addiction: While many people begin using alcohol and drugs to help deal with difficulties such as depression, anxiety, and loneliness, this often backfires on them. Alcohol is a depressant and can compound depression someone already has without them realizing it. Someone with anxiety and panic attacks may not realize that stimulants and other drugs they begin abusing only add to their symptoms. 

Make an Effort to Combat Loneliness

Even when someone is still dealing with trying to become or stay sober, they can take steps to help deal with the overwhelming feelings of isolation and substance abuse. Planning something fun to do with someone else and vowing to hold themselves accountable for showing up can do wonders. Going to see a movie, grabbing coffee at a favorite place, or even just going for a walk with someone can remind an individual of how much better they feel even long after their time out ends. 

It can help to look for a group that revolves around an interest or a hobby the person would like to try out. They can sign up for something like guitar or gardening lessons or look for a group that gathers to play card games or for a book club. Engaging in volunteer work can offer the opportunity to be around others while doing good in the community. The more time a person devotes to these outings, the more they will realize how limiting isolation makes their lives. 

Most important of all is remembering that professional treatment for substance abuse opens the door to many great things. Not only does it lead to a life of recovery but the act of being in treatment itself is a way of beating isolation. Residential programs, outpatient treatment, and support groups all offer ways to spend face-to-face time with people who understand what the person wants and share their goals of getting sober.

Drug Rehab in Phoenix

At Continuum Recovery Center, we teach people how to love the recovery life and manage their mental illness symptoms. We believe treating the mind, body, and spirit in tandem creates the best results. Our scenic Phoenix location offers multiple types of outpatient treatment to help you find what works for you.

If you are ready to embrace recovery once and for all, call us at 855.869.7132 or contact us online, Continuum Recovery Center is here to show you how.