Alcoholism can leave you feeling lonely. When you are addicted to alcohol, drinking is your top priority and it may get in the way of your relationships. You may avoid social outings so you can stay home and drink or be so intoxicated that you are incapable of developing and fostering long-term relationships with others. Similarly, your loved ones can be so angry with your drinking that they don’t want to be around you while you’re intoxicated.
At the same time, drug and alcohol abuse are often the result of feeling lonely or depressed. These are just a few of the many reasons why alcoholism and addiction are so closely linked to isolation and loneliness.
When you get treatment and get sober, you may expect all of your relationships to be restored and for loneliness to become a thing of the past. However, this isn’t always the case. Old friendships that you used to have may no longer serve your lifestyle anymore. And, you may find yourself needing to cope with feelings of loneliness without alcohol.
Why Loneliness in Recovery Can Be a Bad Thing
Taking care of your physical and mental health in recovery is important because it can help reduce the risk of relapse. Loneliness is bad for your mental and physical health. In fact, studies show that loneliness can be just as bad for your health as smoking and can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke by 30%.
Loneliness also causes inflammation in the body and triggers the release of cortisol, a stress hormone, that can contribute to depression, anxiety, autoimmune disease, and early mortality. If you experience chronic loneliness, especially in sobriety, you may be triggered to use alcohol as a means of coping.
6 Ways to Cope With Loneliness Without Alcohol
Almost everyone experiences loneliness from time to time and it’s important to know how to cope in a healthy way. Here are six ways you can cope with loneliness without drugs or alcohol:
1. Develop a Sober Support Group
Sobriety sometimes means applying the phrase “out with the old and in with the new” to your friendships and support group. If you are lonely, you may be lacking in genuine relationships in your life. Consider moving past old relationships that only served you during your addiction and forming new, genuine friendships that support your recovery.
Places you can find sober support include:
- 12-Step meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) or Narcotics Anonymous (NA)
- 12-Step alternatives like SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, or Celebrate Recovery
- A church or local religious organization
- Your rehab center’s alumni program
- A weekly group counseling session
Many people in recovery know what it feels like to be lonely and sober, so they will be more than willing to provide you with companionship and emotional support.
2. Say “Yes” to Social Events and Gatherings With Your Support Group
For many people, learning how to socialize without alcohol can be intimidating. You may have social anxiety or simply not know how to act in large gatherings. But, if you say no to every gathering you are invited to, you can’t expect to be anything but lonely! In order to combat loneliness, you must put yourself out there.
Even if you are nervous or think you aren’t interested in the event you’ve been invited to, say yes. Give it a shot. If you get there and realize it isn’t for you, you can always leave. Better yet–organize a social event yourself and invite your sober support group to get involved!
3. Start Volunteering in Your Community
A great way to make social connections, improve your mental health, and combat loneliness without alcohol is to begin volunteering in your community. Those who volunteer are constantly interacting with new people and helping others which can make them feel better about themselves.
Volunteering ideas include:
- Animal shelter
- Church or religious organization
- Local public library
- Local parks and recreation department
- Local charities
- Homeless shelters
- Food banks
- Community centers
Volunteering benefits the volunteer, but it also benefits the lives of numerous other people and their families in the community. The best part is you’re bound to develop meaningful relationships along the way.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Pick up the Phone
Sometimes, when you’re feeling lonely, you may be tempted to keep it to yourself and isolate yourself further. However, this is the last thing you should do. Instead, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and contact sober support, a family member, or an old friend whom you haven’t connected with for a long time. Simply reaching out to someone, asking them how their day is going, and striking up a conversation can combat loneliness.
5. Get Some Sunlight
Natural sunlight is extremely beneficial for your mental and physical health. It can give you more energy, promote better sleep, encourage weight loss, improve your mental health, and enhance your overall mood. If you’re feeling lonely, take a walk outside, head to the beach, or slather on the sunscreen for backyard tanning. You may feel happier and more relaxed when you come back inside.
6. Take Care of Your Mind and Body (Exercise, Sleep, and Nutrition)
Sleep, diet, and exercise are three essential pillars of self-care. When you neglect any of these three areas of your life, your mental health is going to suffer. Practicing self-care will improve your sense of self-worth, keep you busy, and improve your mental health–all of which can reduce loneliness in your life and help you cope with loneliness more effectively.
Be sure to stick to a regular sleep routine, eat healthy balanced meals, and move your body every day.
Overcome Alcoholism and Loneliness at Moving Mountains Recovery Center
At Moving Mountains Recovery, we help you create a life that is so full of passion that there is no room left for alcohol and drug abuse. Our individualized treatment programs enable you to overcome addiction and our alumni program ensures that you’re never truly alone. Get started by calling today and speaking with a qualified admissions specialist.