Isolation – The Risk of Relapse

During this increased lessening of social contact and group gatherings in response to the coronavirus, the topic of isolation for those in recovery or fighting addiction has been brought to the forefront.  In fact, the impact of isolation on sobriety may not be realized until a relapse occurs.  As I sit in what could be the last remaining in-person AA meetings to happen for a while, I’ve listened as members discuss this very topic in trying to prepare for what might be a substantial struggle for them.

Why and How Isolation can Impact Sobriety

Isolation is sobriety’s adversary.  The process of recovery asks for connection with others in this journey as a way to accept others on their path of sobriety, admit and embrace one’s own vulnerabilities, and challenge personal perspectives.

Asurgent Health Addiction Treatment Center Cleveland OH Isolation 2
  • Your Inner Addiction Voice

When you don’t have the reinforcement of other people who believe in the ideals of recovery, your inner addiction voice goes unchallenged.  Nothing new gets in and the healthy approaches you learned in treatment become further away.  Social interactions allow for those voices of others in recovery to strengthen your own inner recovery voice

  • Other Perspectives

Having the richness of other people’s minds available to you is one of the best parts about social interaction, no matter if you incorporate their points of view or not. Any involvement with another person helps you see the evidence and hear the words of their beliefs.  Interaction with others keeps your ideas and beliefs in constant motion as well as fresh and relevant.  Perspectives that turn black-and-white with addiction puts you at greater risk for relapse.

  • The Affects on Self Worth

Most people need at least some social interaction to survive in this world.  I would argue that addicts are not most people in that (healthy) connections to others is paramount for sobriety and you can never have too much support.  Even if self-imposed, too much isolation can lead to a sense of rejection and justification of staying alone.  The wheels of negativity can really start spinning and your self-worth begins to tank at the prospect that your presence doesn’t matter.  Worthlessness may begin creeping in while the drugs and alcohol beckon – relapse looms.

While it’s good to keep away from those who would derail your sobriety, complete social isolation is the enemy. The current state of our environment asks that we look at alternative ways to connect with others in deflecting relapse and maintaining sobriety. Keep connected with your support systems whether it’s phone calls, on-line chats, face time etc…

Schedule on going communication with a sponsor or attend a virtual AA meeting

Many mental health and treatment centers offer Tele-Medicine with access to individual and group sessions remotely from anywhere.  Before going down the isolation hole reach out and connect.