The Effects of Social Isolation and Substance Abuse

September 24, 2021

Social isolation and substance abuse often occur together, with one feeding into the other. When a person isolates themselves socially, it makes it easier to hide an addiction and spend a lot of time engaging in it. The negative feelings that develop when someone is socially isolated can make continuing to abuse substances more appealing. Learning to pinpoint if someone engages in both behaviors can help them understand that they need professional help.

How Social Isolation and Substance Abuse Impacts Different Areas 

While addiction to drugs and alcohol affects millions of people, it still operates as a condition that many people try to hide. When it becomes public knowledge that someone has a substance abuse problem, this can negatively impact their career or education. Many people who work or go to school end up isolating themselves as much as possible. Isolation causes them to keep evidence of their addiction private and try to avoid having others gossip about their situation. 

Within a social group, such as friends, neighbors, or sports teams to which an individual belongs, isolating can also become a habit. Activities and social events that used to add joy and productivity to someone’s life go on the back burner. This can cause addicts to attempt to hide their addiction and engage in fewer opportunities. Feeling lonely, no matter the circumstances, can negatively impact a person’s health.

Social Isolation and Substance Abuse Eat Up Vast Amounts of Time

Social isolation and substance abuse take up so much time from the act of drinking or using drugs. Examples of social isolation and substance abuse can include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Accumulation of new drug supply and acquiring it 
  • Spending an entire day or string of days consuming alcohol and other drugs
  • Social Isolation becomes normal to those who are addicted to substances 
  • Individuals who are addicted to alcohol experience a higher amount of hangovers
  • Consuming a large amount of drugs typically leads to isolation while recovering

They may spend large amounts of time, such as hours every day or all weekend, consuming narcotics and alcohol in isolation. Even if they are living with their family or roommates, isolation most often will still take place alone in a bedroom or other rooms in the home that are isolated.

Social Isolation and Substance Abuse Often Include Mental Illness

About half of people that struggle with addiction also have a co-occurring mental health disorder. Someone struggling with depression may not feel the desire to do the things that they usually enjoy — including spending time with friends or family. People struggling with anxiety may be triggered by socializing and actively avoid anything having to do with it. Because social isolation leaves people without a support network, they may turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate.

How Treatment Can Impact Social Isolation and Substance Abuse

When someone enters treatment for substance abuse, it naturally includes acts of being social. Just the act of leaving the house to attend therapy appointments and support groups has great value. A person attending detox and other residential treatment facilities will be surrounded by others who understand how they feel. The common goals they have often provide the basis for blossoming friendships and support that continue after treatment ends. Being social again, even as part of addiction treatment, can remind a person what they’ve been missing out on by staying isolated for so long.

Substance Abuse Treatment in Orange County

Gratitude Lodge understands it can be scary to make the first move to get help for addiction to drugs and alcohol, particularly if you have been isolating yourself socially. We offer professional, compassionate treatment for substance abuse, along with any accompanying mental health issues, through a variety of detox, inpatient, and outpatient programs in Orange County.

When you are ready, contact us and we will be happy to answer any questions you have. 

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