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Feeling Isolated on your Path to Addiction Recovery

early addiction recoveryAddiction recovery can sometimes be a lonely experience, whether or not a newly sober person has the support of friends and family.  It’s a journey that one must ultimately face alone, and this can be particularly difficult for an addict who is struggling with the commitment or the process.  Even if a person is entirely committed to a 12 step program, there are moments when he or she can feel isolated.  Despite the encouragement of supportive friends, family, other recovering addicts, or a sponsor, only you can overcome your addiction.

Maybe you feel like no one understands what you are going through, or maybe you can no longer be around the people you love most because you are tempted to fall into old, destructive behaviors, or maybe you are simply facing your 12 step commitment alone without a friend or family member to support you.  Any of these reasons can make one feel emotionally removed from other people, and the desire to further isolate oneself can be hard to resist.  However, this feeling can be potentially destructive, and can lead to further conflict for a recovering addict.

How to Develop Supportive New Relationships:

When feelings of isolation stem from the lack of supportive people in a recovering addict’s life, attempting to make new, healthy, and supportive relationships can often prove difficult.  An addict is already coping with a challenging program of recovery, and reaching out to others might be a difficult or impossible goal.

However, there are ways to make new relationships with people either inside a program or in your everyday life:

  • Firstly, seek out clubs that might interest you. Sharing your interests with other people can be a great way of meeting people.
  • Many people find that playing video games is a safe way to engage with other people, either on a computer or on a console. This is a positive way to interact with others, and doesn’t require you to be in an environment where there are alcohol or drugs involved.
  • Volunteering can be a way to find personal fulfillment helping others, and share an experience with like minded people.

Healthy Ways to Deal with Feelings of Abandonment:

  • Journaling seems like an old fashioned notion, but it can be a great emotional outlet and a way to organize one’s thoughts.
  • Accept that the recovery process can take time, and often the people around us move on with their own lives while you are in recovery. This may or may not be permanent, but there are other people out there that can share your sober journey with you, and offer support as you continue to commit to recovery.
  • Reach out to other recovering addicts in your 12 step program who are committed to their own recovery.
  • Reach out to your sponsor, and if you haven’t found a sponsor yet, ask your recovery group for assistance.
  • Go to movies, the beach, a park, or anyplace where you can safely be around other people while not necessarily having to engage with them.
  • Seek professional help if you’re able, whether it’s a psychologist or trusted doctor, or a free counselor.

What NOT to Do When Feeling Abandoned or Isolated:

Don’t continue to remove yourself from other people, including supportive friends, family members, or participants in your 12 step program.

Don’t be afraid to participate in healthy, sober social situations.  Sometimes recovering addicts fear that they will relapse if they engage in any social activities, even sober ones.  He or she might worry that the anxiety and stress of being around others may lead to a moment of weakness.  A fun, sober gathering of friends might be just the thing to elevate your mood, and remind you that you have people out there who care.

Don’t keep your feelings to yourself.  If you’re feeling lonely, left out, or isolated in any way, share your feelings in your 12 step recovery meeting, with a sponsor, or anyone you trust.

When an addict is feeling isolated or abandoned, there are options available to help them cope and continue to stay successful on their sober journey.  Whether a recovering addict seeks out new friends or relationships, or copes with the feelings by journaling, volunteering, or participating in additional meetings, it can be a positive means of facing your feelings and continuing to stay committed to recovery.

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