Sometimes it feels good to be alone. A little time to ourselves gives us a chance to clear our heads, to indulge in a personal hobby or an afternoon of reading or evening of binge watching, or to get some much needed rest. The world is full of noise, and our schedules tend to keep us rushing here and there. Stepping out of the current that sweeps us along can be restorative and extremely pleasant—especially if we are somewhat introverted to begin with.
Loneliness & Recovery
But there is a significant difference between taking advantage of some alone time and allowing ourselves to become lonely. Loneliness, particularly if it is experienced for a sustained period of time, can contribute to mental health issues and to substance use disorders. If you are in recovery, loneliness can significantly heighten the risk of relapse.
When you are feeling lonely, it can be hard to find a way out. As we shrink further into ourselves, loneliness becomes self-perpetuating. So keep in mind the following ideas for how to shake off the lonely feelings and reconnecting with others.
Your Recovery Can be a Group Activity
If you are in recovery, you know that other people can provide comfort and support. While in treatment, odds are you participated in group therapy sessions. As your recovery journey got underway, you may have joined a 12-Step program or other sort of support group. Helping participants feel less isolated is certainly a key purpose of group therapy and recovery programs. In addition, forging a connection with a sponsor or recovery mentor can also help stave off loneliness.
Plenty of Places to Find Your Groove in a Group
Of course, there are plenty of options for social interaction outside of recovery support groups. If you are feeling lonely and looking for ways to make new friends and get involved in new activities, check out the following options.
- Your faith community – If you have a faith community, use it as a social outlet. Maybe you could join a scripture reading group or a fellowship dinner club. Or maybe you just find a few folks who want to go grab lunch after services.
- The arts community – Your local arts community is no doubt ready to welcome you with open arms—whether you want to be an audience member, a participant, or both. The local community theater is likely looking for volunteers or paid staff to help with a variety of tasks, for example. And they need actors (even inexperienced actors), too. Or you could explore dance, music, or the visual arts. The arts are for everyone, and participating is a great way to meet new people.
- The sports scene – You don’t have to be a great athlete to find a sport you can enjoy with others. You could join a bowling league, a Masters Swimming club, or an adult kickball league—just to name a few options. As an added bonus, you will get some exercise, which can be an excellent way to support your recovery.
- The volunteer ranks – So much good work is done in communities by volunteers. Whether you serve at a food bank, an animal shelter, a school, or any of the many places that are always in need of extra hands, you will be meeting people who share your values. And a spirit of service in recovery can help you keep the danger of a relapse at arm’s length.
We could go on and on about options for getting out of the house and finding people who share your interests, but you get the idea. Trying something new and meeting a new group of friends may both provide a boost to your recovery efforts. Just don’t feel like you have to dive in all at once. Find something you enjoy and some people to enjoy it with. That’s all there is to it.
We Didn’t Forget Your Friends and Family
Make no mistake: we know how powerful and helpful your existing relationships with friends and family can be on your recovery journey.
We’ve saved this group for last, however, so that we can highlight an issue that may arise in the early days of your recovery. There’s a good chance that some of your close relationships were damaged by your behavior before you sought treatment for your substance use disorder. You may owe members of your family or your friend group a sincere apology for things you said or did. Making amends can help you set aside feelings of regret and guilt, and newly repaired relationships offer a respite from loneliness.
That said, be sure to keep in mind that not everyone will be open to accepting your apology. If that’s the case, the best thing to do is give the person space while working to sustain and strengthen other important relationships in your life.
The other side of the coin is that some of your family and friends may not support your recovery. Maybe they are heavy users themselves, or maybe they consistently make you feel badly about yourself. In either case, finding new people to share your life with can give you perspective and support your recovery.
We Will Welcome You Here
If you are struggling to overcome a substance use disorder, you may feel isolated and as if no one understands what you are going through. That loneliness is likely to make things worse rather than better. But there is good news. At Safe Harbor Recovery Center, we are ready to welcome you into a treatment program that is free from judgement and grounded in respect for you as an individual. With expertise and compassion, we can help you set aside your substance use disorder and start your recovery with confidence. Please remember: You are not alone.