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Loneliness is one of the most common relapse triggers for those recovering from addiction. When drugs, alcohol and other vices were constantly supplying you with instant gratification, important relationships were likely damaged or destroyed. And, now that you’re in recovery from your addiction, you’ve hopefully cut ties with the unhealthy friendships that used to provide you with some form of social interaction, however harmful it might have been. For these reasons, it’s normal to find yourself feeling more and more socially isolated.
But, rebuilding healthy relationships and establishing new ones is possible! In this article, we’ll offer our suggestions for preventing isolation and relapse.
Your addiction was an important part of your life. It may have felt like your best friend at times. Now that you are taking steps to leave it behind, you will need to grieve that loss. Recognize those feelings and process them so you can truly move forward. Otherwise, your ability to be open and honest with people in newer, healthier relationships may be compromised.
Guilt, shame, embarrassment or simply feelings of being different from others may cause you to withdraw from social interaction at first. Joining a support group gives you access to people who understand those feelings and can provide insight on how they have overcome similar obstacles. Sometimes, hearing someone else verbalize a problem you haven’t been able to put into words yourself can help you gain a better perspective on your own issues. As you share each others’ struggles and triumphs, you can develop bonds that strengthen your resolve and theirs.
Making amends with the people you hurt while actively addicted could be a great way to start building a new, supportive social network. An apology is an important step, but it is only part of the process. Let honesty, humility and empathy guide you, and you may also want to speak to a counselor, sponsor or support group for additional help when you’re ready to begin.
The basics are:
1. Understanding the true nature of the physical and emotional damage you caused someone
2. Apologizing in a way that demonstrates the above and holding yourself accountable
3. Offering ways to rebuild their trust through your actions
4. Learning from your earlier mistakes so you don’t repeat those behaviors
Keep in mind that the renewal of the relationship is a possible outcome, but it is not guaranteed. A sincere attempt to recognize the problems and restore goodwill can provide healing for both you and the person you have wronged.
Your addiction monopolized a lot of your time. Perhaps you put down an instrument, sport or other activity that used to bring you joy as well as opportunities to engage with others. Check your local area for music instructors, rec leagues, art classes and other regular events where you can rekindle your love for healthier pastimes.
Giving back to your community offers you a chance to improve your sense of self worth while improving the lives of others. As you work towards a common goal with others, you can develop new connections with people outside of your usual social circles. Introducing yourself to a greater variety of social experiences and perspectives can help better prepare you for the road ahead.
At The Raleigh House, we work through all aspects of your addiction because recovery is about more than the use of drugs or alcohol. Our comprehensive substance abuse recovery program focuses on improving your personal health and the relationships with your loved ones because proper social support is vital to your long-term goals for a substance-free life. If you need help with addiction or if you’ve recently suffered a relapse, contact The Raleigh House now.