Addiction, also known as substance use disorder (SUD), is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) as a chronic, relapsing neurological disorder. The Mayo…
An actively using addict can often lose control over his or her finances, might struggle with proper hygiene, could suffer from malnutrition, and can lose touch with family and friends. Substance abuse can cause a number of long term and short term physical, mental, and emotional consequences. Many people who have a substance abuse problem will drop friends who do not share the same priority. The social shifts that can occur for people who are addicts or abuse drugs or alcohol can leave the individual in extreme social isolation.
It is no doubt that abusing drugs or alcohol can take a serious toll on one’s physical body in addition to one’s mental and emotional health. The more an individual abuses a substance the more he or she will lose the ability to connect to other people. It is not uncommon for individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol to lose confidence in or completely shift his or her innate ability to communicate with others. This possible loss of confidence, or a change in one’s communication behaviors can leave a person unwilling to or unable to accurately express him or herself. Social communication is a skill, and when not utilized regularly will diminish. This can lead to a bit of a rabbit hole of isolation as one’s disease progresses.
Some addicts may initially find isolation to be easier for him or her to focus on the priority of curbing one’s addiction craving. An addict may isolate him or herself for the simple reason that there will be no one in the way (i.e. a loved one attempting to provide a voice of reason) of getting intoxicated. Part of the human condition is the need to connect with others. The simplest way for this to be met is through communication. If an individual who is abusing drugs or alcohol actively chooses to stop communicating with people, he or she will be left in a very dark and lonely place.
People who suffer from addiction feel that they are alone, and this is partly because they have created this reality. A huge part of recovery from substance abuse and addiction is to make sure that an individual has a social network in which to stay active. Whether it be participating in a traditional twelve step program (Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous) or a non-traditional recovery program, every kind of substance abuse treatment will engage others into one’s process of recovery.
It is not healthy for a person to live in isolation, regardless of whether or not the person is addicted to drugs or alcohol. Addiction, however, is considered to be a disease of isolation. Almost every person who is addicted to drugs or alcohol will have experienced some bout of isolation. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that having regular social interactions throughout one’s recovery from substance abuse or addiction is so widely practiced. It is imperative to have other people to help provide accountability for a person in substance abuse or addiction recovery. It is also essential for a person to break the habit of remaining in isolation, as that behavior will not behoove an individual who wishes to adjust the unhealthy patterns formed during one’s substance abusing days.
Similar to the negative stigma surrounding mental health diseases and disorders in the United States, there too have been many years where the substance abuse and addiction population share such negativity in the public eye. In fact, currently, there is still an incredible stigma of shame surrounding substance abuse and addiction. Though many addicts who are in a using stage typically appear to be narcissistic, there may be a part of them that does not want to expose their loved ones to the self-sabotage and personal damage he or she may be inflicting due to the abuse of drugs or alcohol.
One of the signs of substance abuse is isolation. If there is an individual who displays signs of substance abuse in addition to isolation, it would be beneficial to seek guidance. Addiction can cause irreparable harm if left untreated. Many forms of support are now available for an individual struggling with substance abuse or addiction, and for a loved one of a person who is experiencing difficulty surrounding substance abuse or addiction. Do not hesitate to get help, as addiction is a serious disease.
Substance abuse and addiction can be incredibly dangerous.
If you or someone you know is suffering from substance abuse or addiction, please get help as soon as possible. The earlier you seek support, the sooner you and your loved ones can return to happy, healthy and fulfilling lives. There is no reason to go through this alone. Please feel free to reach out to us for further information or with any questions regarding substance abuse or addiction.
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