Humans are social creatures and don’t like being isolated for too long. Isolation can be difficult for anyone. It also becomes more of a challenge for people with alcohol abuse problems; isolation and alcoholism can combine and lead to relapse.
Recovering alcoholics without any form of contact with their loved ones or having physical or social interactions can become isolated, affecting their recovery. It’s important to understand the effects of isolation on people struggling with alcoholism to keep them on track and safe from relapsing to their harmful habits.
Alcohol Use and Social Isolation: What is the Connection?
Boredom and loneliness can cause feelings of isolation. Regardless of the reason — a global pandemic, estrangement, or distance from friends can make someone feel disconnected from the world and those around them. People with drinking problems don’t like feeling isolated.
There are many ways to overcome boredom and isolation, like reading a book, binge-watching TV, or playing a game. However, those suffering from alcoholism may resort to drinking to get their fix and fill the void caused by loneliness and isolation. They often feel that drinking alcohol can make routine activities more bearable.
Drinking alcohol can change the way a person sees the world. It can affect their moods, emotions, judgment, and behavior. Some may see alcohol as a means to escape their problems or feel better, making them happier and less isolated.
However, alcohol only causes problems for your brain and body. Aside from numerous health problems, alcohol also disrupts the brain’s communication channels, negatively impacting how the brain works and looks. These disruptions alter mood and behavior, making it more difficult to think clearly and perform coordinated tasks.
Most people drink alone or live alone, and when they get used to it, they may find engaging with others more difficult. They may feel more isolated than ever, which keeps them going through their day alone.
What Else Can Isolation Bring?
According to havenhouserecovery.com, the combination of isolation and alcoholism can be dangerous. It can keep someone from talking or reaching out to others, often leading to anxiety. It also makes them feel more stressed and results in panic attacks.
Many people with alcohol problems find themselves back in the arms of alcohol to manage their anxiety. It may help them feel happier for a while, but they may feel sadder, more depressed, and more anxious once their intoxication subsides. It also increases their risk of relapse.
Individuals who have completed treatment or been sober for many years may feel isolated. They tend to avoid others to avoid the temptation of drinking, judgment, or anything related to their addictive behaviors. They may think staying isolated reinforces their sobriety, but they’re not. Long-term recovery and sobriety are about learning to manage triggers, not avoiding them.
Five Ways Isolation Influences Drinking and What You Can Do About It
You may not know how isolation and alcoholism affect you while recovering from alcohol abuse. Understanding how isolation affects your recovery helps you seek professional help before everything spirals out of control.
Here are some of the ways isolation influences drinking and what you can do about it:
1. Changes in Drinking Patterns
Keep track of how many glasses you consume each day and how often you drink. Be aware of the changes in your drinking habits over time. It’s time to take a step back and think about what you’re doing if you can’t get drink alcohol for more than a day.
2. Interference With Activities
It is easy to overlook the effects of isolation and alcoholism until they become apparent. You may choose to drink alcohol over your family, friends, or hobbies.
3. Stress or Unhappiness
Stress and unhappiness can triple the dangers of isolation and alcoholism. You may find yourself reaching for alcohol whenever you feel depressed, lonely, or bored. Take a deep breath. Find healthy ways to overcome the isolation causing your negative feelings. Spend time outdoors in nature, read a book, do some gardening, go for a walk — the opportunities are endless.
4. Relationship Problems
Isolation and alcoholism may affect you more than you think if you’re fighting with your loved ones more frequently. Alcohol consumption can affect your mood and behavior and may lead to domestic violence or abuse. Listen to your family and friends about how they feel about your drinking habits.
5. Increased Alcohol Tolerance
You may develop a tolerance to alcohol if you regularly drink, needing more to experience the same effects as before. This may indicate alcohol dependence, resulting in nausea, vomiting, anxiety, headaches, shaking, and other withdrawal symptoms once you stop drinking.
No one wants to feel isolated from others, especially people struggling with alcohol problems. Isolation only worsens their problems and brings up emotions they would rather forget. It also changes their drinking habits and their behavior towards others.
Listen to your family and friends and how they feel about your drinking. Step back, reflect, and find better and healthier ways to keep boredom and loneliness away.
Alcoholism and isolation can create a vicious cycle that can be difficult to break. Isolation can lead to increased alcohol consumption, and excessive drinking can lead to further isolation. This pattern can be especially prevalent during times of stress or crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Social support is essential in recovery from alcohol addiction, and isolation can hinder access to that support. It is important to reach out for help, even if it means using virtual resources such as online support groups or teletherapy. Developing healthy coping mechanisms and finding ways to stay connected with others can also be helpful in managing alcoholism and preventing relapse.
It’s crucial to seek professional help for alcohol addiction, as it can be a life-threatening illness. With the right support and resources, it is possible to overcome alcoholism and maintain long-term recovery.