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Beware of Isolation During Recovery

Posted on :  October 22nd, 2014  |  By :  towardsrecovery

When going through the recovery process, a substance abuser has many challenges to face. However, one challenge that an individual may not be aware of is isolation. Isolation is both an obstacle and an enemy to recovery efforts—and is often a major culprit when it comes to relapse. Recognizing and dealing with the symptoms is crucial to ensure a successful recovery.

Isolation signs and symptoms

Isolation is more than just feeling lonely or being separated from others; it is a complex phenomenon that can trigger a number of signs and behaviours—ones that may lead to a relapse. Here are some common signs and symptoms of this danger.

  • Blaming others. Pointing the finger at other people is often an indication that a recovering addict is attempting to isolate himself, often as a form of self-protection. However, doing so creates emotional distance that could lead to a relapse.
  • Ceasing healthy or enjoyable activities. If during recovery an individual gives up hobbies or other pleasurable activities, consider it a warning sign. The same goes for changes in other healthy behaviours such as exercise and eating well.
  • Engaging in secretive behaviour. Sneaking around or simply withdrawing from family and social settings is another indication of potential trouble.
  • Falling back into negative self-talk. Many recovering addicts have self-esteem issues, which often improve during recovery. However, if a former substance abuser falls back into negative self-talk, it is often a sign of isolation.
  • Feeling hopeless or defeated. Feelings of hopelessness or defeat often lead to a person distancing himself from others.
  • Feeling lonely. Isolation is often characterized by feelings of loneliness. If they intensify or become more frequent, it is a cause for concern.
  • Feeling bored. Boredom is another danger sign during recovery. Not only can it lead to isolation, it can tempt an individual to start abusing again, simply because there is “nothing else to do.”
  • Feeling overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed or experiencing a lack of control can cause a person to withdraw and seek solace in drugs and alcohol, instead of talking with others.
  • Having heightened feelings of anger or resentment. Increased feelings of anger, resentment and frustration pose a danger to those in recovery. In an effort to hide or escape these feelings, isolating oneself is, usually, the end result. This could potentially lead to a relapse in order to avoid looking at the issues behind the feelings.
  • Having stronger or more frequent cravings. Problems with cravings can also lead a person toward isolation. Many times an addict feels shame or failure for experiencing cravings and hides instead of seeking help.

Dealing with isolation and its symptoms

Although dealing with isolation is a challenging prospect, it is important to tackle it head on as soon as possible. Ignoring symptoms in the hopes that they go away is risky at best and damaging at worst—with the possibility of a relapse always hanging in the balance.

The most effective strategy for dealing with isolation is to have a strong support system, one that includes a variety of sources such as family, friends, groups and professionals. There is no underestimating the value of supportive family members when dealing with the isolation experienced during recovery. The same goes for nurturing friendships. However, a support system must include more than loved ones. Although their love and concern are helpful, a recovering addict also needs people who can specifically relate to his unique experiences of isolation, such as other recovering addicts. Group therapy or 12-step meetings can fill that gap. Finally, professional counselling or a treatment recovery program can successfully help an individual deal with the difficulties of isolation during recovery.

Isolation is an issue to be aware of while going through recovery, but thankfully, it’s an issue that doesn’t need to be faced alone.

If you’d like to learn more about dealing with isolation during substance abuse recovery, and live in or around Hamilton, St. Catharines, or Brantford, Ontario, you can make the first step by contacting Towards Recovery on 519-579-0589 to locate your nearest clinic and kick start your journey. Make sure you have an unexpired OHIP card or call 1-866-532-3161 to find out how to get one.

Who We Serve ?

  • Individuals using/abusing street narcotics (e.g. heroin).
  • Patients abusing prescription narcotics(i.e., Codeine, Talwin, Percocet/Percodan, Dilaudid, Morphine or Demerol, et cetera).
  • Individuals displaying any of the following behaviours: Compulsive drug use or drug seeking/craving.
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