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Isolation in addiction leads to co-occurring depression and increases the risk of suicide.
As a substance use disorder slowly but surely begins taking over your life, you will likely find yourself spending more time alone. This is a common sign of addiction, as the substance becomes the number one priority.
No longer do you really care about socializing. In fact, you make excuses just so you can stay home alone and indulge in substance use. Over time, that sense of isolation in addiction becomes your new normal.
Learn about the dangers of becoming socially isolated in your addiction, how to spot the warning signs, and getting help.
Why Does an Addict Become Isolated?
For some addicts, loneliness and isolation existed prior to the substance abuse getting out of control. In fact, it may have been the catalyst for starting to use drugs or alcohol in the first place. The substance became a sort of self-medicating tool to help them escape feelings of loneliness.
For others, the isolation is a direct result of an escalating addiction. As the substance problem worsens, there is more of a desire to detach from people. The person may feel they need to avoid anyone who comes between them and their drug.
Social connection suffers badly in addiction. The addict can no longer relate to others and hopes to avoid people making comments about their appearance. The thinking goes that if they avoid other people they can be left alone in their addiction. In essence, they form a relationship with the substance in lieu of people.
In addition, the actions that the addict engages in become harmful to their close relationships. This leads to broken trust bonds and hurt feelings. It can result in deception and abuse. All of these only create a wedge between themselves and others.
The Dangers of Isolation in Addiction
The consequences of being isolated as a result of substance abuse are many. As humans, we thrive on connection. People need to be in caring relationships and part of a community. Addiction destroys these connections.
The impact of isolation in addiction may include:
- Substance abuse escalates unchecked if no one is around to witness it.
- Loss of custody of children.
- Deteriorating health.
- Co-occurring mental health disorders.
- Excess absences at work; loss of job.
- Increased suicide risk.
Even those who are in recovery can fall back into the habit of isolating. If this takes hold it can begin the spiral toward a relapse.
Isolation is even harmful for those who don’t have a substance use disorder. Effects of isolation can include:
- Increased risk of heart disease.
- Sleep deprivation.
- Cognitive decline.
- Increased risk of stroke.
How to Spot the Warning Signs of Addiction
You may be a family member who has noticed a loved one pulling away and becoming isolated. Maybe you aren’t sure if they have a mental health issue or a substance use problem.
While each substance of abuse will have its own list of addiction symptoms, here are the common warning signs:
- Increased tolerance to the substance, leading to an increase in consumption.
- Becomes obsessed with obtaining the substance, and using or drinking.
- Uses substance to self-medicate a mood disorder.
- Engages in high-risk behaviors.
- Lies about the drug or alcohol use; hides the substance from others.
- Withdraws from friends and family; forms friendships with other users.
- Avoids social gatherings and other activities once enjoyed.
- Is in denial about the gravity of the substance problem.
- Is sneaky and secretive.
- Legal problems due to drug or alcohol abuse.
- Money problems mount; job loss.
- Keeps using the substance even though it is causing them harm.
- If they attempt to stop, or can’t obtain the substance, they have withdrawal symptoms.
These are red flags that tell the family their loved one has a serious problem with a substance. The sooner they can convince him or her to get help, the better the outcome.
Suicide Risks and Prevention
As someone begins to feel the impact of the substance problem and becomes despairing, it can cause depression. One of the most serious effects of isolation and addiction is the increased risk of suicide. If a loved one is depressed and has a co-occurring addiction, pay heed to these warning signs for suicide:
- Symptoms of depression.
- Extreme fatigue.
- Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed.
- Feeling guilt or shame.
- Feeling hopeless.
- Increased substance abuse.
- Avoids family and friends.
- Saying they are a burden to others.
- Saying they have no reason to live.
- Sharing that they are in pain.
- Gives away prized things.
- Talks of killing self.
How to Break Free From Addiction
Once you begin treatment, you will be in the presence of other people again. It is during rehab that you can begin to trust others and to allow yourself to make meaningful connections again. It is the beginning of making new friends in recovery.
Rehab is all about sharing each other’s stories, feelings, fears, and hopes. During the treatment process, you will engage in many types of group sessions and activities. While you may feel some discomfort being so open at first, in time it becomes a source of peer support.
- Detox and withdrawal
- Talk therapy.
- Group therapy.
- Family therapy.
- Addiction education.
- Relapse prevention planning.
- 12-step meetings.
- Holistic methods.
- Fitness and nutrition.
All of these activities involve being around others and learning how to connect and trust again. You will find that you have much to offer others and will learn to allow others to help you, too. If you are trapped in a state of isolation in your addiction, you need guidance and support. With expert help, you can free yourself.
Solutions 4 Recovery Provides Evidence-Based Addiction Treatment
Solutions 4 Recovery provides the key to helping you open the jail cell of addiction. Trapped and isolated in addiction is no way to live. If you are ready to move forward in recovery, please reach out today at (888) 417-1874.