How does loneliness affect recovery?
Can you remember feeling isolated or different, even when you were among lots of people at parties or celebrations? You may have used alcohol or other drugs to fit in and feel more like part of the crowd, but found that the relief from loneliness was only temporary. As your addiction progressed you may have felt guilty or ashamed, which left you feeling more lonely and isolated than ever.
Now that you are in recovery, you may think those feelings of loneliness should disappear. But the choice to abstain from alcohol and other drugs means that you must isolate yourself from your using friends—perhaps the only friends you had during your addiction. It is not uncommon to feel lonely during this time. Look at it as a temporary transition and a symptom of positive growth. You are moving from an unhealthy network of friends to a life-giving, supportive network of friends. Make an effort to create connections with new people in recovery, and make sure you attend Twelve Step meetings.
Remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Any time you go to a meeting you will find a room full of understanding people who have experienced the same feelings of isolation. Talking with them will help you regain your sense of humor and belonging. You need help from others, from your Higher Power, your sponsor, and your recovery support group. Keep in close contact with these people. They will form your support network. They can understand what you’re going through and hold you accountable to keep working on your recovery.
Remember that deep, lasting relationships take time to develop. They will grow as you grow in your sobriety. In the meantime, practice being at peace when you are alone. People who are content and at peace with themselves can spend time alone without feeling lonely. You can learn to be at peace by practicing meditation and serenity.
If during active addiction you tended to isolate yourself or be a loner, take care not to isolate yourself while working on recovery. Balance your alone time with time engaged in positive relationships with others.