Loneliness is an inevitable part of life. At some point, everyone experiences the feeling of being alone and wanting to connect with others. But for some, loneliness can result in negative consequences that have a lasting impact on their health and well-being. In fact, the feeling of being lonely may even have real consequences, including addiction.
Lonely individuals are at a higher risk of developing addictions to substances or activities as a way to cope with their unfulfilling lives. These connections can be explained by various psychological theories related to loneliness and addiction that explain why these two conditions often go hand in hand. Understanding this connection can help you recognize if you are currently struggling with loneliness, which could lead to negative consequences if not addressed immediately.
What is loneliness?
The feeling of loneliness can come from a variety of causes, but is generally described as feeling disconnected or dissatisfied with one’s social connections. It’s also common to feel lonely while surrounded by many people – perhaps even more so than when one is truly alone. This happens when a person yearns for meaningful connections but feels unable to form them. Loneliness is often but not always related to feeling socially isolated.
To be socially isolated means to have little to no meaningful social connections. Because humans are social beings, this can be very harmful. Loneliness can have many causes. It can come from feeling unable to connect with others, feeling like others don’t want to connect with you, having your social connections severed, or moving away from others and feeling unable to make new connections. Lonely people often feel disconnected from others, have low self-esteem, and have poor mental health.
Does Isolation Lead to Addiction?
One of the main reasons why loneliness may lead to addiction is because it can cause people to stay in their homes, which in turn can cause social isolation. Loneliness can also cause people to seek out addictive substances and activities. Those who are lonely often turn to substances as a way to cope with the negative emotions they experience as a result of feeling lonely. For example, people who are lonely may use alcohol as a way to feel more relaxed or confident. They may also use drugs as a way to escape from the negative feelings they have about themselves. Many people who are lonely also find themselves regularly engaging in activities that can lead to addiction. For example, lonely people are more likely to spend time playing video games or watching television. These activities can quickly lead to an addiction if someone regularly engages in them for long periods of time.
How Addiction Harms Relationships
Addiction can also cause people to be more likely to engage in negative interactions and communication styles that can damage the relationships they are in. People who are addicted to substances may be more hostile towards others and more likely to get into arguments. Similarly, people who are lonely and addicted to certain activities or thoughts may use these things to avoid talking to others and therefore be less likely to form meaningful relationships.
Major Depression and Addiction
Another connection between loneliness and addiction is that people who are depressed are more likely to develop an addiction. In fact, people who suffer from both depression and loneliness are even more likely to become addicted.
Loneliness can cause major depression in a number of ways. For example, it can cause people to ruminate on their feelings of loneliness, which can cause feelings of hopelessness and sadness. It can also make people withdraw from social interactions, which can lead to feelings of loneliness, and cause them to have fewer positive things in their lives. Loneliness and major depression also both cause people to turn to drugs and alcohol.
When a person is feeling lonely, their brain releases chemicals that make them feel sad and unimportant. This leads to a negative emotional state that motivates them to do something to make themselves feel better. Drugs and alcohol both release feel-good chemicals in the brain that temporarily resolve negative emotions – but over the long term worsen them.
Building New Relationships in Recovery
One way to overcome the feelings of loneliness and addiction is to build new relationships with people who can support and care for you. While it may seem counterintuitive, this can actually help you get control over your addiction. Once you start to build new relationships, you will have people in your life who can help you stay on the right path. Loneliness can make you feel like you want to isolate yourself, but you should actively work to connect with others. Some ways to do this include joining a club or group, volunteering your time, and reaching out to people you know.
In fact, building a new social support system is a crucial part of recovery. Studies show that people who have stronger social support networks are more likely to get help for their addictions – and more likely to stay sober. You may not feel like you have any friends who understand your situation. Or you may feel like you have lost the people who cared about you before you got sober. It is important to actively work to build new positive relationships in your life to combat these feelings of loneliness.
How Sober Living Homes Help in Recovery
Sober living homes, such as Bridges Sober Apartments, provide people who are going through recovery from addiction with a unique living environment that fosters healthy relationships and promotes a sense of community. Sober living homes are often run by professionals who are trained to help those in recovery stay on track with their goals.
When you live in a sober living home like Bridges, you are surrounded by other people who are actively working on overcoming their addictions. You will have access to people who understand what you are going through, people who are actively working towards their goals, and people who can support you when you feel like you are struggling to move forward in your recovery.
These supportive relationships can help you deal with the loneliness that can come with being in recovery. They can help you to feel connected to something and to people again. Living in a sober living home can also help you to avoid living at home and being tempted to isolate yourself. If you’re interested in sober housing, contact us today to find out more.