Loneliness as a Trigger for Relapse after Drug and Alcohol Treatment or Rehab

People are social animals who need contact with others. For many of us, occasional loneliness is normal and we may feel a bit alone and adrift from time to time. Sometimes, the strongest feelings of aloneness and separation can occur amidst a large group of people.

Loneliness is usually fleeting, but in some cases, the feelings can be intense enough to derail sobriety, even after successful completion of drug and alcohol treatment or rehab.

Many treatment centers put a high premium on group therapy and other communal activities. The period after completion of treatment is a big change and tends to be difficult, especially for those who need time to develop a new social network consisting of sober friends.

If you’re like many in recovery, you probably damaged a few relationships or burned a few bridges throughout your years of addiction. Repairing damaged connections takes time, and some may be beyond repair.

It may seem like you’ll be alone forever and it may be tempting to turn to old friends. This is obviously risky if your former social group consists of people who still use.

8 Tips on Coping with Loneliness after Treatment

If you’ve completed drug and alcohol treatment or rehab and you’re feeling a bit bereft and abandoned, don’t ignore your feelings and don’t wait for loneliness to resolve on its own.

Instead of sinking into negativity, take the bull by the horns and step out into the world. How you do that is up to you, but the following suggestions may help:

  1. Keep in mind that it isn’t necessary to have a huge group of friends. Make it a goal to build a few quality relationships with dependable, caring people.
  2. It’s always helpful if some of those people are have been in recovery, but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
  3. Take time to grieve after giving up drugs or alcohol. You may feel like you’ve lost your greatest friend, but remember, that “friend” was one-sided and destructive.
  4. It’s okay to turn to the social world of the Internet for connection with others. Look for groups of like-minded people on Facebook or other forums. You’ll discover a number of positive, supportive avenues to connect with others in recovery.
  5. Try something new. Join a club. Take a class. Pick up a new hobby. Join a Meetup group.
  6. Volunteering to help others is a great way to meet new people, and you’ll have the satisfaction of making a real difference in the lives of others.
  7. If you’re in a position to take on a bit of responsibility, consider getting a pet. Cats and dogs are great companions.
  8. Don’t forget to spend time with supportive family members and old (sober) friends. If necessary, offer apologies to those you’ve wronged.

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