How Loneliness and Addiction are Related

HHRC-Sad man sitting on couch at home

Every one of us has experienced loneliness at some point. Due to that fleeting condition, we may experience pain or dissatisfaction with our present circumstances. It frequently occurs when we want interpersonal relationships or social engagements. Although it occurred long before lockdowns during the COVID-19 epidemic, many people experienced it then. According to one survey, at least 22% of American adults in 2018 reported experiencing loneliness.

Unfortunately, some people use drugs or alcohol to dull or distract themselves from unpleasant experiences. Both eventually become chronic, which can cause a host of issues as alcohol only provides short-term solace.

If you or someone you know struggles with loneliness and addiction, keep reading to understand how to handle it without turning to drugs or alcohol.

Loneliness: What Is It? 

Have you ever experienced loneliness? That nagging sense you have at a party when no one you know is there? Maybe after a tough week when no one from friends or family has contacted you? Sadness and unhappiness are akin to loneliness. It is a feeling of anxiety or discomfort brought on by a yearning for, or lack of, social interaction. Although loneliness is often felt alone, it may also be felt in a crowd.

Connection is not always guaranteed by being with others (the opposite of loneliness). Many people have a large number of friends yet still feel lonely. You can feel lonely during a party or in a busy environment if you feel alone or misunderstood. Over 22% of individuals in the United States experience loneliness, according to a 2018 poll released by the Kaiser Family Foundation. There is a disconnect between a person’s wishes for social interaction and their direct experiences when they are lonesome.

Although the two may be related, loneliness is not the same as depression. Even with genuine relationships, depression is a mental health disorder that can persist and worsen. Authentic connections can satisfy true loneliness, which is a transitory emotion. Sometimes loneliness lasts longer than depression.

The Dangers of Addiction Isolation and the Cycle of Loneliness

Loneliness is as harmful to your health as smoking is. Chronic loneliness can turn on genes that make the body agitated. They also cause the stress hormone cortisol to be released, which harms both the body and the mind. Over time, conditions including cancer, autoimmune illness, or early death might develop due to excessive cortisol levels and inflammation. Loneliness has disastrous and destructive long-term implications. It is essential to take action to lessen loneliness by strengthening social ties. Unfortunately, many people fall into isolation and addiction as a coping mechanism.

Regular use of alcohol as a brief measure of comfort has harmful effects over time. Three drinks per week are the advised moderate alcohol consumption for healthy people. But those who experience loneliness are much more likely to exceed the recommended limit. According to the National Library of Medicine research, lonely people drink much more alcohol. Over 66.1% of adults who consume alcohol on average 4–7 days each week say they experience loneliness frequently or occasionally. Alcohol intake is sometimes a “salve” for mental pain, but it can ultimately worsen things.

People who abuse drugs or alcohol to deal with loneliness, despair, stress, or anxiety avoid facing the truth about their circumstances and feelings; instead, they frequently live in denial, guilt, and dread. They could feel confined and unable to flee, and as a result, they frequently commit harm to people around them out of their pain and rage. Also, addiction and loneliness only contribute to sleep impairment and raise anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and the risk of self-harm.

Tips to Combat Addiction and Loneliness 

Since healthy connections significantly impact your life, overcoming loneliness can also help you overcome addiction. In addition to helping to break the cycle of addiction, support groups and treatment programs may also considerably improve the situation by bringing about beneficial adjustments in one’s lifestyle.

Make time to connect with friends and family. A robust support network can lower the risk of depression, prevent self-harm, and aid addiction recovery. Make an effort to connect with others and attend events. Helping your loved ones comprehend the problem and the recovery process depends on communication. Addiction leads to loneliness, which in turn promotes addiction. Many people lose friends and hurt connections as their addiction worsens, exacerbating feelings of loneliness and isolation. As a result, a cause and an effect of addiction can be loneliness. Without assistance, it is very challenging to deal with such emotions without using drugs or alcohol, which feeds the cycle.

Get some sun every day.

Natural sunray exposure is perfect for your health. For both the body and the intellect, sunlight is necessary. In the morning, it provides us with a jolt of energy, and at bedtime, it lets our body know it’s time to start shutting down.

Sunlight deprivation is just as harmful as smoking and being overweight. Step outside and breathe in the fresh air if you want to feel happier immediately. Just be sure to do it carefully by using sunscreen lotion!

Check your connections.

A lack of sincere connections can sometimes contribute to isolation and addiction. Examine the individuals you are around for a moment. Think about your social network, coworkers, and family. Do you tend to have more fake connections than real ones? If most of your friendships are superficial, think about expanding them or finding new ones.

Create sincere connections.

Take action and strengthen the ties you wish to preserve after carefully examining your relationships. Make an effort to get in touch with your family and friends. Recognize your coworkers’ significant life milestones, such as a son’s birthday celebration or recent promotion, by checking in with them frequently. You may fight loneliness without turning to alcohol by making an effort to establish and maintain authentic relationships.

Prepare some social events.

Plan a party, event, or activity for your friends, family, and coworkers. Make a list of your interests and pursuits, then start a conversation with friends about joining a running club or a regular gaming night. You may actively address your own emotional and social needs by planning trips.

Go outside your home more often.

Try to venture outside more. Don’t spend the day napping or watching another series alone; try something new. Invite friends along for a bike ride across the neighborhood. Look up any outside local activities that catch your attention. Make sure to have fun and vary your everyday routine, whatever you choose to do.

Try to volunteer in your community.

Being a volunteer is one of the most acceptable methods to meet new people and combat loneliness. Volunteers interact with people regularly. Regular contacts aid in the development of a strong support network for volunteers. Volunteers play a vital role in society and typically have excellent interpersonal skills. Contact hospitals, animal shelters, or long-term care homes to begin volunteering.

It requires work and repetition to develop strong social ties. By forming sincere connections, you may actively combat loneliness without falling victim to the condition. Alcohol may provide a temporary solution, but it is not long-term. Alcohol abuse and increased loneliness can result from temporarily using alcohol to ease loneliness. Instead, actively work to improve your connections.

Key Takeaway 

Loneliness raises the risk of a variety of illnesses. It can cause a lack of sleep, improper eating patterns, and substance misuse. People who experience loneliness are more prone to binge drink and develop alcohol dependence. More than 65%of persons who identify as heavy drinkers say they experience loneliness frequently or occasionally.

Get Assistance for Your Addiction and Isolation 

It should be emphasized that none of the strategies we listed above will eventually keep working for addiction isolation and the cycle of loneliness. However, one of the best working solutions is to look for expert assistance. We’re referring to the instant when potentially harmful thoughts and ideas enter your head and put your life or the lives of others in danger. Some rehab centers in Nashville, TN, may assist you in coping with these ailments and emotions that you can no longer manage on your own.

Speak with us right away if you ever begin to have negative thoughts stemming from addiction and isolation. Getting addiction treatment from a reputable rehab facility is the best step when you discover that you or your loved one’s drinking habits have gotten out of hand. With the correct assistance by your side, you can manage emotions of loneliness and recover from addiction.

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