From the outside, someone who is battling alcohol addiction does not seem lonely but rather the “life of the party” each night out, but that is simply a façade. The gnawing feeling of loneliness as alcohol dependence develops, the deeper the disconnect from family and friends. Our basic needs for survival include to be loved and belong to a community. The sense of belonging is basic and when these means are not met, the individual suffers. Your emotional well-being is crucial to your daily life. As we discussed in another blog post, it is important to have deep connections with friends and family to avoid the attractiveness of substance addiction. When you create those healthy connections with other people you are more likely to feel fulfilled in life.
The theory of human connection and drug addiction first began in the 1970s with Professor Bruce Alexander’s Rat Park experiment. He took previously isolated rats and placed them in his Rat Park with other healthier rats. He discovered that even if you become addicted to a drug, you can recover, stop usage, and live a healthy life as you are surrounded by social interaction. Like rats, humans are social creatures that need each other’s company and interaction to stay happy and healthy.
Importance of Connection
A lack of connection with people is lonely, and there is no doubt that loneliness causes suffering and pain. Trying to avoid the deep suffering could be one of the most important steps to keep from relapsing and making bad decisions. A lonely person might feel there is no one to turn to if they don’t have a good social support system set up. When they are alone, without anyone to turn to, drugs and alcohol might seem like a good idea to provide temporary relief.
It is possible that the root of any addiction can be tied directly to our loneliness. British journalist Johann Hari has a theory. He has done extensive research and wrote a book about how the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but rather connection. Humans have a need to be around people and bond with each other for a healthy emotional health. Sharing experiences and feels with each other is a way of providing support. Support has many forms: feedback, advice, information, physical help, and listening.
Side Effects of Loneliness
Unfortunately, loneliness can lead to other problematic symptoms like depression, insomnia, and even thoughts of suicide. Depression is one very common side effect of addiction. Loneliness can negatively impact a person’s brain to the point where they have less control over their emotions, cravings, and behaviors. People who are lonely may also have low self-esteem, and alcohol can be used as an unhealthy tool to feel more confident in social situations.
Create a Support System
If possible, work on getting a good support system in place. One of the hardest things in recovery is that the people you used to hang out with, and who drank with you, are no longer a viable option to you now. Unfortunately this may mean severing ties with some of your former friends and colleagues. You may have to form a new group of friends and build on a strong social support group that will be healthy for your recovery.
It is crucial to nurture deep connections with friends and family to avoid the attractiveness of substance addiction. When you create those healthy connections with other people you are more likely to feel fulfilled in life. A great tool to empower you on your journey to a creating a healthy support system is using hypnotherapy. Many people have used hypnotherapy as a tool to overcome alcohol dependence, and it can change your life too! Check out our programs and book a free consultation session today.