Coping With Feelings of Isolation in Recovery

One of the trickier tasks in recovering from alcoholism or drug addiction is dealing with isolation. Most addicted people, by nature, tend to have difficulty in social situations. It’s a primary reason many of them turn to a drug to change their mood, make them feel “more comfortable.”

At the end of the line, when their bottom comes up and hits them, most have withdrawn from everyone except those who drink or use drugs the same way they do. And those relationships are not what society considers normal, but rather tend to serve the addicts’ immediate needs. They just want to be left alone.

Then they stop drinking or using and are advised to stay away from the only people they hung around with — the ones who drank like they did — and find new friends, new activities.

Get up, get going


It’s a daunting challenge when one has been unable to do it without a drink or a drug. It can be overwhelming and lead to feelings of depression, which can feed into the tendency to want to be left alone to stew in one’s own pot of pity. In the winter, when the weather is miserable, the tendency to isolate can be strong for anyone. For people in early recovery, being alone with their own thoughts can be dangerous.

What to do? “I tell guys I sponsor to get off their butts. Get up, go outside. Make a phone call. Move a muscle. Don’t sit there alone.”

The speaker is a Sullivan County resident with more than three decades of sobriety in Alcoholics Anonymous. He says he only tells the men he sponsors the same things his sponsor told him, especially when recovery was new.

Indeed, becoming part of a group and forming new relationships, new friendships, is a cornerstone of 12-step groups. They let the addict know that he or she is not alone, that everyone has personal problems, that it is possible to deal with them without drinking or popping pills and, yes, it is possible to make new friends who have managed to do this.

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