The coronavirus pandemic has thrown billions of people across the world into isolation as they follow their government’s social distancing rules. However, most people who suffer from addiction already have a close and complicated relationship with loneliness and isolation. Human interaction is integral for our health, happiness and overall well-being. That’s why support groups, mentoring and communicating about your feelings are such vital components of the recovery process.
Whether you’re currently in recovery or concerned that your substance use is spiraling out of control, help is always available to you. The internet has given us an array of opportunities to reach out to each other, and for some people, it’s easier to get help this way than in person.
Can Loneliness Damage Your Health?
Loneliness can be bad for your well-being in several ways, including your physical and mental health. A lack of healthy social connections is linked to serious medical issues, including heart disease, stroke and depression. Depression is a major risk factor for addiction, which is being intensified by the imposed measures and anxiety about the virus.
Meaningful friendships and bonds reduce your mortality risk and put you at a significantly reduced risk of certain illnesses. By making sure you’re engaging with a community of like-minded people, even while in isolation, you can overcome negative feelings that might lead to relapse.
Loneliness and Addiction
While the word isolation refers to the physical state of being alone, loneliness is broader and more emotional. People can feel lonely even if they have a family, friends and acquaintances — it might be more a sense of disconnection or not belonging. Experts in the field of mental health have identified three primary reasons for substance abuse:
- Covering psychological pain or filling an emotional hole
- Easing the sadness that comes with loneliness
- Making social interactions easier and more enjoyable
The latter reason is not relevant while in lockdown, but for most people, a lack of social distractions leads to rumination and potentially depressive thoughts. As such, during social isolation, the first two reasons are intensified, especially for people struggling with addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Loneliness is connected to drug use, alcohol use, suicide, depression and anxiety. Creating meaningful connections can help prevent alcohol and drug abuse and help you maintain sobriety while you’re in recovery.
Online Support Groups
There are many reasons you might not be able to leave the house to attend a meeting, including child care, anxiety or circumstances beyond your control. That doesn’t prevent you from being in a position to seek help, though, as virtual meetings are rapidly growing in popularity.
Alcoholics Anonymous and similar groups are providing online meetings that are free for anyone to attend. All you need is a Wi-Fi connection and a video conferencing tool like Zoom.
Tips and Tricks for Overcoming Loneliness
We understand how hopeless life can feel for someone experiencing loneliness, but there are ways you can make yourself feel better. It usually requires a lot of willpower to take the first step, so be brave and push through — the rewards will feel amazing.
Acknowledge Your Feelings and Talk About Them
So many people ignore signs that things aren’t feeling right and convince themselves that they feel fine. Write a journal or keep a video diary to record how you feel and try to be as open and honest as possible — being able to admit when you feel low is crucial. If there are emotions and concerns you feel unable to cope with, don’t bottle it up. Speak to someone you trust about how you feel, and seek advice on how to embrace the feeling and move past it. You can reach out to:
- Loved ones
- A therapist or counselor
- Telehealth services
Take plenty of time out of each day to take extra special care of yourself in a variety of ways, such as:
- Cook for yourself and get dressed up to eat. Dim the lights and set the table as if you’re in a restaurant.
- Bake yourself cupcakes or keto cookies and treat yourself with them when you complete a chore or have a productive creative session.
- Run yourself a deep bubble bath and set the mood with candles and aromatherapy oils.
Find exciting ways of making yourself feel great while sober, and never feel ashamed to unwind in any healthful way that promotes abstinence.
Make Sure Social Media Use Is Constructive
Try not to obsess over anything on social media, as it’s a surefire way to stir up emotions and anxiety. Use social media to connect with people you care about and share meaningful information, but avoid scrolling aimlessly through the feed. If there’s a person in your life or someone who used to be in your life who makes you feel sad, avoid their profiles at all costs. Block and delete if necessary!
Join a Message Board or Forum
Another constructive way to connect with people is by finding message boards for bands, shows, celebrities or hobbies and chatting with like-minded people. You can have meaningful conversations and get to know someone’s personality from a distance, with the choice to meet them one day if you like. Online gaming communities also offer a place where you can unwind and chat with fellow gamers.
One of the most heartwarming outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the overwhelming support of communities for those in need. Volunteering allows you to feel proud of doing something meaningful for the community and can be the first step on the ladder to a great career. It feels good to give something back, and providing support to people who are less fortunate than yourself can help put your own situation in perspective.
Do You Need Help Right Now?
If you need to talk to someone about how addiction is affecting you, call Calusa Recovery today at 844-331-0471 and one of our friendly advisers can give you advice and connect you with the resources you need.