The link between addiction and loneliness is unprecedented. As one struggles with their addiction and/or loneliness, they can become trapped in a vicious cycle which inextricably links one to the other.
As feelings of worthlessness, stress, anxiety, and depression grow, their reliance upon a substance can drastically increase, leaving the said person in a state of denial.
Often, someone’s ‘loneliness’ can be interpreted as introversion. This, hand in hand with changes in our society, has seen 25-50% of older Americans feeling lonely, 79% of generation Z, and a whopping 71% of Millennials stating they feel lonely.
COVID-19 and Loneliness
The current pandemic has left many without their usual social support structures, so it is imperative to work around this.
Here are a few suggestions to manage those feelings:
· Social Time
In a digital age, though you may not be able to be with your friends personally, you can take advantage of various online mediums. Create a quiz night, a scrabble night, or hundreds of other online activities to fill your social rift.
Arrange phone calls with friends or family, fix a time, and make sure you are all free to talk. Discuss plans, events, and catch up with the Jones’.
· Talk About Your Feelings
Share with a relative or a close friend that you are feeling lonely. Never take what they have displayed on social media as to how they feel. They may be feeling just as lonely as you!
· Things to Enjoy
With more time on your hands, do more things you enjoy, read that book you always wanted to read, start yoga, or take up meditation. Think of this additional time as an opportunity to better yourself and nail down your goals.
· Behavioral Signs of Addiction
Some of the physical symptoms of addiction may be easier to spot than the psychological or behavioral ones. Here are some typical examples of the latter:
Often, you will find that the person in question has a main priority – and that priority is finding what they are addicted to.
The person is unable to control their need for the substance, even if they want to.
The individual does not consider the harm they are causing to themselves or others.
The person concerned will deny having a problem even when evidence is laid in front of them.
As you can see, in disregard & denial, it is possible to understand how the addict can drive loved ones away through frustration and pain. This, in turn, can result in even more feelings of loneliness for the addict, therefore pushing them further into ‘reliance’.
Who Is Most at Risk?
Though no one is protected against either loneliness, or addiction, or both, some people are in greater danger than others. Here are some of the determining factors:
Over 63 % of American men have reported strong emotions of loneliness, which means that gender is one of the mitigating factors in developing loneliness-induced addiction.
· Family History
It is common to find addiction running in a family. Children exposed are statistically more prone to becoming addicts themselves.
· Lack of Role Models
Children brought up in households where their parents have little to no involvement in their lives are more likely to abuse substances.
When these risk factors tie in with loneliness, the effects are multiplied. Men are generally less likely to speak about their emotions, and children without strong family figures may fill the void with a crutch like alcohol or illicit substances.
Addiction and Loneliness Walk Hand in Hand
Addiction is an issue that must be tackled through multiple means and often, it requires professional help. Substance abuse can not only destroy the life of the addict but also ruin their relationships with those around them – moving full circle to create even more loneliness and helplessness.
If a loved one is struggling with addiction and you want to help them, start the process towards healing as soon as possible. Google search for a solution in your local area, e.g. “Top-rated Pennsylvania detox centers.” Initiate contact and provide them with as much information as necessary. Getting timely therapy could save someone’s life.
Addiction and loneliness are inextricably linked. It is essential to show your loved ones that you are there for them when overwhelming emotions or unhealthy thoughts arise. If you notice any signs of addiction, do not postpone the conversation. Both loneliness and addiction often worsen over time and could have lethal outcomes.