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  • How To Break Free From Addiction & The Cycle Of Loneliness

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    Lonely Woman-How To Break Free From Addiction & The Cycle Of Loneliness

    About 10% of Americans experience substance use disorder (drug addiction) at some point in their lives. Many of them turn to drugs to self-medicate difficult feelings, including loneliness. 

    Unfortunately, over time, addiction makes you feel even more alone, leading to even more drug use. Here’s how to escape this vicious cycle.

    Addiction & The Cycle Of Loneliness

    Loneliness stems from a variety of causes. While it’s sometimes caused by social isolation, it can also occur in people who regularly interact with others but lack meaningful relationships. In addition, you may feel lonely when navigating the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or a big move. 

    No matter the cause, loneliness can bring a number of other painful feelings, such as sadness, insecurity, and hopelessness. It may also increase your risk of various mental and physical health conditions, including:

    Self-Medication To Cope

    Some lonely people try to numb their pain with drugs. Others rely on drugs (especially alcohol) to feel more relaxed in social situations. Both behaviors count as substance abuse and pose a high risk of addiction. 

    Addiction is a serious disease that makes you feel unable to stop using drugs. When you first develop addiction, you might find that drugs indeed help you feel less lonely and more social. However, with time, the disease causes a number of issues that leave you more isolated. 

    Shame, Self-Isolation, & Continued Use

    If you continue to self-medicate, you may eventually lose interest in activities that don’t involve drugs. 

    In addition, when intoxicated, you may become moody, withdrawn, irritable, or aggressive. These symptoms can quickly strain your relationships with friends and family members. 

    Moreover, once your addiction grows severe, you may experience intense shame that leads to self-isolation. To cope with these increasing feelings of loneliness, many people increase their drug abuse. 

    How To Break Free

    If you feel stuck in the cycle described above, you can free yourself by following these steps:  

    Let Yourself Grieve The Loss Of Drugs

    To rebuild a healthy support system, you must give up drugs. This won’t be easy, especially if you have come to view drugs as your main source of happiness and connection. 

    Let yourself experience these feelings of loss. At the same time, remember all the ways that addiction has left you even more lonely than you felt in the first place. 

    Seek Professional Help

    As with other diseases, it’s much easier to recover from addiction with professional support. That’s why you should seek help at a substance abuse treatment program

    Some of these programs are inpatient, meaning you live at the treatment center, while others are outpatient, meaning you live at home and regularly visit the treatment center. 

    In general, inpatient care is recommended if you have a moderate-to-severe addiction, co-occurring mental health concerns (such as depression or bipolar disorder), or an unsupportive home environment. Outpatient care may work if you have a milder addiction and a stable home.

    Both inpatient and outpatient treatment programs offer services such as:

    • medical detox, which helps you manage withdrawal symptoms as you get drugs out of your system
    • therapy, which helps you manage drug cravings and develop healthy ways to cope with loneliness, such as journaling, meditating, and exercising
    • medication-assisted treatment (MAT), which helps you cope with cravings and withdrawal symptoms caused by alcohol or opioids
    • aftercare planning, which helps you identify strategies to reduce your risk of relapse after you leave the treatment program

    Attend Support Groups

    When addiction turns your life upside down, a support group is often the perfect environment for rebuilding positive connections. Each person in the group understands the addiction recovery process. As a result, you can open up about your struggles without fear of judgment.

    Many addiction treatment programs include support groups in their treatment plans. You can also find local support groups by searching online. The most popular options include:

    Make Amends        

    When battling addiction, you may have accidentally hurt the people you love most. In recovery, you can acknowledge your mistakes and ask your loved ones for forgiveness. Some people may need time or space before they feel ready to forgive you. 

    When someone accepts your apology, schedule quality time with them so you can start rebuilding a healthy relationship. You could also suggest family therapy to help you resolve any lingering conflicts. 

    If you’re not sure how to make amends, talk to your therapist or support group. They can help you plan apologies filled with care, compassion, and patience. 

    Practice Self-Care

    To maintain strong relationships, you must take care of yourself. Get at least seven hours of sleep per night, eat plenty of nutritious foods, and stay active.

    You should also make time for activities that boost your sense of well-being, such as meditating, spending time outdoors, and enjoying creative hobbies like painting, writing, or gardening. These activities keep you calm and grounded, helping you navigate your relationships with yourself and others. 

    To learn more about addiction recovery, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. Our board-certified healthcare providers offer personalized, evidence-based care to help you or your loved one stay sober.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.
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