Are You Feeling Alone In Your Recovery?

Are You Feeling Alone In Your Recovery?

When you re-enter the real world after living in a sober living home or completing inpatient treatment, you’ll no longer be constantly surrounded by your peers in recovery, which may cause you to feel lonely. Even if you are not physically alone, you might feel isolated from the people in your life. Loneliness during recovery can weigh you down and drive you to relapse. It can also worsen other mental health symptoms. 

To maintain a sober and healthy lifestyle post-treatment, you’ll have to use some of the tools you learned from your mental health professional to manage your loneliness. Taking the time to process and analyze your emotions is a large part of this process.

Defining Loneliness 

Many people enjoy solidarity and happily live reclusive lives. You can be alone and not experience loneliness, and you can also be surrounded by people and feel lonely. Loneliness is characterized as a distressing emotion caused by a perceived lack of social interactions. Commonly, this experience is associated with feeling disconnected from others in your life or feeling like you don’t interact with enough people. 

When you feel lonely, it’s because your social needs are not being met. Social needs vary from person to person, and some people might feel lonely more frequently than others. Positive and meaningful social interactions can uplift your mood and make you feel safe and secure. It’s normal to crave social interactions that make you feel understood and accepted.

Chronic Loneliness

Everyone experiences loneliness, but chronic loneliness can lead to a decline in your mental and physical health. Research has found a correlation between chronic loneliness and cardiovascular disease as well as high blood pressure. For older people, loneliness can cause or worsen dementia. 

People above the age of 65, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and immigrants are among some of the groups at greater risk of chronic loneliness. Chronic loneliness can also increase depressive and anxiety symptoms. Loneliness makes it easier for you to become lost in your thoughts. When you’re lonely, negative emotions can feel intense and encapsulating, making it harder for you to see past them. This can make it more difficult for someone in recovery to manage substance use symptoms and maintain a sober lifestyle.

Post-Treatment Loneliness

Recovery can feel like a lonely process, especially when you no longer live in a community where you’re constantly surrounded by your peers. Post-treatment, you’ll have to make adjustments to your lifestyle. This could include no longer hanging out with toxic people you used to hang out with and no longer going to potentially triggering places. 

You may feel left out of activities that you used to take part in, and it can take time to develop new interests and make new friends that fit into your new sober lifestyle. It’s okay to feel lonely in your sobriety, but know that you are not alone and that there are tools you can use to mitigate your loneliness.

Cause of Negative Feelings

One way to mitigate feelings of loneliness is to understand the root cause of those feelings. Tracking your emotions by noting when you feel lonely — or other negative emotions — will make your loneliness easier to manage. When you track your loneliness, take note of what triggers it. Is there anything that makes you feel less lonely? Are there certain times of day when you feel more lonely than others? Journaling your feelings can help you keep track of them because it turns your emotions into something tangible. Once you understand what causes your feelings of loneliness, you’ll be able to brainstorm the best way to mitigate these feelings.

Keep Your Peers Close

Staying connected with your peers can help mitigate your loneliness. This could mean keeping in touch with friends you made during treatment or making new friends in the recovery community. Having friends who also live sober lives will normalize your sobriety and make you feel understood. You can find recovery communities that are online or that meet in person. Many organizations have websites that can help you connect with recovery communities. 

Use Your Support System

Building a support network is essential for your recovery. The recovery process is not something you should do on your own. Your support network could consist of family, friends, and/or peers who can lend a supporting hand when you need it. If you feel like you cannot escape your loneliness, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone in your support network. 

Sometimes, people won’t be able to show up for you in the way you need them to. No one is perfect, and not everyone will always be able to extend the emotional energy that you need. When this happens, lean on your mental health professional. Inform them about your feelings of loneliness, and together, you can learn the necessary tools that will help you manage your loneliness.