As you start another week, take a brief moment to evaluate how connected you are to your community. How about to your friends? Alone time can have many physical, emotional and spiritual advantages when enjoyed in moderation. People need connection with other people. For many of us, it’s how we thrive.
But in early recovery, you might realize this isn’t always easy, especially if your primary friend group is still connected to drinking or using.
Still, spending too much time alone can be harmful to your mind and body. We function at our best when we strike a healthy balance — healthy time alone and a healthy amount of time tending to the important relationships in our lives.
Why do we isolate?
When you’re experiencing addiction, it can be hard to interact with people. You may have turned away from friends and family because you didn’t want them to see the grips of addiction on your life, whether you were ashamed, scared or embarrassed. Over time, that can become a wall that keeps you isolated in a way that feels hard to get out of, for some people leading to depression or even greater difficulty with addiction.
How do we overcome isolation?
The good news? It is possible to overcome isolation — and recovery is the most important step in helping you get there. But it isn’t an immediate fix. If you’ve created a habit of spending time alone isolating in addiction, you’ll have to unlearn some of these behaviors. And that’s okay!
In recovery, you’re learning new coping skills. You’re connecting with people who share the values of recovery. People who keep you on a healthy path in a new chapter in your life. So, hold onto hope and try these tips to start learning healthy connection as you unlearn isolation:
Reach out to people who are active and outgoing and ask them to check on you. These people can help get you out of a “funk” and will keep you accountable.
Make small goals that are attainable, like calling another friend or person in recovery two times a week. This could be to set up coffee or to do something fun.
Look for a sponsor or peer recovery coach who requires you to call him or her once per day, or a certain number of times per week, or who asks that you meet them at a specific meeting or event on a regular basis. This has been very effective for me — it forces you (in a good way) to follow-through.
Go to meetings and listen to other people as they share similar issues they’re facing and how they overcome them and deal with negative feelings, like isolation. Better yet? Learn from their experiences and consider putting their advice into practice.
Don’t dwell on the past. This will keep you stuck and will only make isolation worse. Do what you need to do to move forward through community, new coping skills and new hobbies you’ll learn to enjoy in recovery.
I wish you all a wonderful week and challenge you to reach out to someone new to slowly and steadily break the habit of isolation. Even though it will feel uncomfortable at first, it will be a lifesaver in recovery.
And who knows? You might be helping someone else out of their own isolation, too.