There are many different circumstances and situations that can lead to a state of addiction but one of the most serious is that of isolation. People need to feel connected to each other in order to feel safe, secure and fulfilled. The culture and environment many people experience in the modern world can lead to isolation, making them more vulnerable to problems like depression and especially issues of addiction.
For most people attempting to recover from an addiction, one of the most positive ways for them to experience healing is to be more deeply connected with people and surrounded by love and support. If isolation breeds addiction then the opposite of addiction is not only sobriety but human connection as well. Bonding with other people and feeling free to talk to them about personal matters is an essential part of recovering from an addiction. Without that bond from caring and compassionate peers, recovery from addiction would be nearly impossible to achieve.
Resisting Addiction through Connectedness
It is no surprise that loneliness and isolation are unhealthy and dangerous for a person’s mental stability. Recent research has even shown that a state of isolation can cause more vulnerability to developing addiction. In a study using rats, when subjects were isolated they were more likely to choose cocaine laced water over normal water. Rats living together in a large cage with toys and other activities were able to resist developing an addiction. Rats from the previous study that had developed an addiction in isolation were able to stop once they were placed into the large cage with other rats.
Humans, like most animals are social creatures and need to be around others to feel stable enough to resist developing an addiction. Everyone experiences the ups and downs of daily life and without other people to talk to as an outlet for their stress feelings can build up to serious levels of depression and anxiety. Without people around for help, an isolated person will often turn to drugs or alcohol to alleviate some of their distress. This begins the cycle of addiction that can take control over their lives and even lead them to go deeper into their social isolation. An addict may become more withdrawn from others so that they can continue their abuse which ultimately worsens the cycle.
Social Support in Recovery
In order to end the pattern of abuse and isolation, an addict must work closely with others in an effort to recover. Options like community-based recovery groups, twelve step meetings, and rehab recovery facilities all focus on human connection as a core element of recovering from an addiction. With group therapy and meetings, an addict can begin the process of connecting again and being a part of a community of people that is there to help each other. Having someone to talk to who understands your experience and is willing to give their compassion can be life-changing for an addict. They can begin to let go of all the feelings and difficult emotions that they have kept to themselves for years.
Having someone listen to your problems can be a very healing experience that everyone needs in recovery. An important part of preventing relapse in the future is the knowledge that you have close connections and people that care about you. These people can hold you accountable so that you will be less likely to slide back into old habits. Although the idea of disconnection as a major cause of addiction is relatively new, the concept of a network of support from caring peers has been always been an important part of recovery.