March 3, 2023

Substance Abuse and Social Isolation

an image of a person dealing with substance abuse and social isolation

Addiction and Isolation

Substance abuse and social isolation can be closely interrelated.

Social wellness is one of the eight dimensions of wellness. The social dimension is characterized by maintaining and developing healthy relationships, as well as contributing to the community. Social isolation, on the other hand, can be damaging, whether it manifests as feelings of disconnection from others or as a complete lack of social contact.

Many people who feel socially isolated use alcohol, prescription medications, or illicit drugs as a means of coping with feelings of loneliness or sadness. Any form of sustained substance abuse can lead to the development of physical dependence and addiction (substance use disorder). Regrettably, substance abuse typically inflames feelings of loneliness and social isolation, in turn prompting heightened abuse of drugs or alcohol.

This guide to social isolation and substance abuse highlights the interconnected nature of loneliness and addiction, and also explores the mental health aspect of isolation and addiction.

How Loneliness Causes Addiction

Research shows that social isolation may alter the brain in certain ways can increase the risk of addiction.

Those who feel lonely may experience heightened levels of anxiety and stress, prompting a desire for immediate relief. Drugs or alcohol may temporarily alleviate feelings of stress or anxiety. Addictive substances work on the reward centers of the brain to trigger feelings of euphoria and pleasure. Unfortunately, the pleasure associated with substance abuse is fleeting. The root cause of the loneliness remains unaddressed, and ongoing substance abuse may lead to the development of a diagnosable addiction.

Beyond this, many people grappling with addiction also experience social isolation. This can occur for many reasons, including:


      • Stigma surrounding addiction.

      • Rejection from friends or loved ones.

      • Co-occurring mental health conditions like depression or anxiety.

    Social isolation can be a risk factor for addiction. If you engage with treatment at Gratitude Lodge in Orange County, we will help you address the root causes of your addiction, including social isolation. Our treatment programs include components that will help you to develop healthy sober relationships with others as you engage with ongoing therapy for drug addiction or alcoholism.


    According to NIMH (National Institute on Mental Health), 21 million U.S. adults experienced at least one episode of major depression in 2020.

    Major depressive disorder – the clinical descriptor for depression – is a mood disorder associated with persistent feelings of sadness, helplessness, and hopelessness.

    The symptoms of depression may also make it challenging for you to maintain healthy relationships with others, a core dimension of wellness. Additionally, those who feel socially isolated are at increased risk of developing depression, and depression may trigger substance abuse as a form of self-medication.

    If you are suffering from depression or any other mood disorder, refrain from self-medicating your symptoms – this will offer nothing but fleeting relief. Instead, consider engaging with inpatient or outpatient treatment. Behavioral interventions like CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy) will help you to develop healthy coping mechanisms rather than relying on the short-term and flawed strategy of self-medication.

    Mental Illness

    Mental illness is an umbrella term that encompasses a variety of conditions that may co-occur with substance abuse and addiction. These include:


        • Major depressive disorder

        • Anxiety disorder

        • Panic disorder

        • Bipolar disorder

        • Schizophrenia

        • PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

      NIMH reports that those with mental illness may be at increased risk of developing addiction. Substance abuse is also likely to inflame the symptoms of mental illness, bringing about a vicious cycle of addiction and mental health complications.

      Although mental illness can be aggravating, evidence-based treatment typically delivers positive outcomes.

      Individual counseling sessions allow you to work through the underlying causes of your mental illness and develop healthier coping strategies. Therapists may utilize various approaches, including CBT (cognitive-behavioral therapy), DBT (dialectical behavior therapy), and trauma-focused therapy.

      Group therapy sessions offer the opportunity for those with mental illness and addiction to connect with peers undergoing similar challenges. Group sessions provide a supportive environment where you can benefit from others with lived experience of mental illness.

      MAT (medication-assisted treatment) may also be an effective component of treatment for mental illness. We can help you with all of this and more here at Gratitude Lodge in Orange County.

      Dual Diagnosis

      Dual diagnosis is a clinical term for the co-occurrence of addictions and mental health disorders. Research suggests that half of those with substance use disorders also have mental health conditions.

      Also known as co-occurring disorder, dual diagnosis can be tricky to treat. An integrated approach to treatment is proven to deliver the most favorable treatment outcomes.

      At Gratitude Lodge, our dual diagnosis treatment programs are delivered by addiction specialists and licensed therapists. Connect with evidence-based interventions that address both conditions simultaneously at our pet-friendly rehab center in Orange County. Access treatments that include:


          • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)

          • Individual counseling

          • Group therapy

          • Motivational therapies

          • Family therapy

          • Holistic therapies

        By initiating your recovery at Gratitude Lodge, you and your pet can benefit from a supportive community for those with dual diagnosis. Explore a wide range of amenities, including a fitness center, yoga classes, and outdoor recreational activities. Becoming more active as you embark on your recovery journey can provide a healthy outlet for stress and anxiety, while also improving your physical and mental well-being.

        How to Overcome Social Isolation and Drug Addiction

        While isolation and substance abuse can be challenging to overcome, it is nevertheless possible, assuming that you connect with the right support and treatment. We can help you achieve this at Gratitude Lodge in Southern California.

        At Gratitude Lodge, we offer a range of evidence-based therapies and holistic treatments that can help you overcome addiction while rebuilding and strengthening your social network.

        One effective way to overcome social isolation is to engage in social activities and build healthy relationships with others. Our team of addiction specialists can help you to develop social skills and provide opportunities for you to participate in group activities like fitness classes, outdoor activities, and yoga.

        Another crucial aspect of overcoming both addiction and social isolation is to address the underlying issues that contributed to addiction. This may include addressing past traumas, creating healthy coping mechanisms, and learning to manage stress and anxiety in healthy ways that do not involve drink or drugs.

        At Gratitude Lodge, we offer a combination of evidence-based therapies like CBT, DBT, and counseling to help you address underlying issues and build a suite of healthy coping skills. Additionally, we provide access to holistic treatments like yoga, meditation, and mindfulness practices, helping to promote overall wellness and emotional balance.

        We also offer aftercare services, including ongoing counseling and support groups, to help you maintain your sobriety and continue to build healthy relationships and social connections.

        Remember, recovery from addiction is possible and you do not need to remain socially isolated. We are here to help you every step of the way.

        Social Isolation and Drug Addiction Help at Gratitude Lodge

        When you are ready to move from active addiction into ongoing recovery, we’re here to help you from detox to discharge and beyond at Gratitude Lodge in Newport Beach, San Diego, or Long Beach.

        Begin your recovery with our supervised medical detoxification program. Take advantage of medications to reduce the intensity of the withdrawal process. Benefit from continuous clinical and emotional care to minimize the chance of relapse or complications during detox. After a week, you can expect to transition into ongoing evidence-based treatment.

        We offer 30-day inpatient programs, as well as intensive outpatient programs, allowing you to connect with treatment for addiction and mental health issues at the appropriate level of care.

        Our dual diagnosis treatment program provides integrated and coordinated treatment of both conditions, streamlining your recovery process.

        All treatment programs at Gratitude Lodge offer personalized therapy that combines pharmacological, behavioral, and holistic interventions:

        Call admissions today at 800-994-2184 to start moving beyond a life framed by addiction and social isolation.

        Substance abuse and social isolation FAQs

        Some things that can make a person more likely to face problems are grouped into three categories. The first category is “familial,” which includes bad treatment in childhood, like abuse or neglect, having family members who abuse substances, and the relationships between parents and children. The second category is “social,” which includes hanging out with bad influences, trying to be too popular, being bullied, or being part of a gang. The third category is “individual,” which includes having ADHD or feeling very sad and hopeless (depression).

        People who are socially isolated are more likely to experience depression, which increases the risk of substance abuse. Social withdrawal and addiction are closely connected. In fact, feeling lonely can lead to engaging in risky behaviors. On the other hand, having a supportive community is crucial for overcoming addiction and staying away from relapse.

        When people start drinking alcohol, they might do it in social situations with others. But if it becomes a problem and they abuse alcohol, they might start feeling alone and isolate themselves. When alcoholism gets serious, people might feel ashamed and hide their drinking from others, which can make them even more isolated and alone.

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        Joe Gilmore

        Joseph Gilmore

        Joseph Gilmore has been working in the addiction industry for half a decade and has been writing about addiction and substance abuse treatment during that time. He has experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.
        Jenni Bussi

        Jenni Busse MS, LPCC

        Jenni Busse MS, LPSS is the Clinical Director at Gratitude Lodge. Jenni oversees the clinical program and the clinical team at Gratitude Lodge as a whole. Jenni has worked in treatment for almost 14 years. Her background as a licensed therapist and her passion for helping others intersected with addiction recovery when she started working primarily in detox residential treatment.

        Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox, facilitating the beginnings of a successful recovery at our rehab addiction centers in Orange County, CA.

        Drug detox can vary according to the patient’s addiction factors, including the substance abused, how long the addiction has lasted, the patient’s medical condition, if any other disorders are present, and more. Our skilled and credentialed team at Gratitude Lodge work closely with every patient going through drug detox.

        Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse. Alcohol detox may not take as long or produce severe withdrawal symptoms, but it is still an essential beginning to your recovery.

        Many patients don’t realize the toxicity of prolonged alcohol abuse and how it affects the body. Alcohol detox at the luxurious rehab addiction centers at Gratitude Lodge leeches your body of these toxins in preparation for successful treatment for drugs and alcohol abuse.
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        Holistic Therapy

        Our holistic therapy treatments offer a full-scope approach to recovery, addressing your mind, body, and emotions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. This therapy is designed to help address underlying issues and integrate alternative therapies to promote overall health and well-being.
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        An essential part of your treatment experience, we offer individual (CBT and DBT talk therapy) and group addiction treatment counseling to help you explore and address the emotional component of addiction, providing you with the tools, self-awareness, and empowerment you need to maintain recovery.
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        Dual Diagnosis

        Dual Diagnosis is a highly effective addiction treatment that addresses substance use and mental health disorders simultaneously. Often co-occurring, these disorders are best managed when treated together with specific and targeted therapy.
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        Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)

        Medication-Assisted Treatment provides you with FDA-approved medications to help ease the symptoms of withdrawal while you’re in treatment. This makes the detox process easier and safer, as well as increasing the chances of a successful recovery.
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        Sober Living

        Sober living provides a supportive and substance-free living environment for your ongoing recovery. We partner with a number of upscale and carefully vetted sober living homes that are available to our clients after inpatient alcohol and drug addiction treatment.
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        Outpatient Treatment

        Once detox and inpatient are complete, we provide an easy transition to outpatient care through our hand-selected partners. This program offers a more flexible approach, allowing you to ease back in to daily life while still receiving frequent & effective care.
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        Inpatient treatment provides an intensive and comprehensive addiction treatment program in a structured environment. You will receive 24/7 expert care, therapy, and support as you build your foundation for long-term recovery.
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        Drug & Alcohol Detox

        A crucial first step in the recovery process, our detox program provides a comfortable, medically supervised environment that addresses the physical aspect of addiction and eliminates substances from your body.

        Use Our 24 Hour text line. You can ask questions about our program, the admissions process, and more.