How Isolation Impacts Substance Abuse

Several factors can influence one’s level of loneliness. For many, their loneliness has increased over the past 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, loneliness and isolation are two things that everyone has experienced as of late. What makes this situation even more unfortunate is that isolation and substance abuse often go hand-in-hand, meaning that those who struggle with being isolated are more likely to abuse drugs or alcohol.

How Loneliness Leads to Isolation and Addiction

We are our own worst critics when it comes to how we perceive ourselves. It is easy for teenage boys and young men to be overly critical of themselves. The thoughts in our heads can point out body image flaws, self-esteem issues, and create self-doubt. As we become more critical of ourselves, it is easy to retreat inwards and away from others. 

It is not uncommon to feel like we are flawed in some manner. As a result, we can feel lonely. When we feel lonely, we can start to feel isolated, even in cases where we are in a room full of our friends.

It is easy to turn to alcohol and drugs as a solution to deal with feelings of isolation. When we use drugs or alcohol, we feel like an entirely different person. That person might be more open, have less self-doubt, or be open to engaging in risky behaviors, making it easier to fit in with others. 

As our bodies become more tolerant of our substance of choice, we have to use more and more of it. When we do, our bodies are developing a dependence on the substance, which can lead to addiction if we do not get help. 

How Substance Abuse Leads to Loneliness and Isolation

Teenage boys and young men abuse substances to cope with stress, anxiety, depression, fear, and as a means to avoid confronting their feelings. When we first start using substances with our friends, it can seem like a lot of fun. 

However, as we continue abusing substances, we all notice that our friends and family can start to show concern. They may begin to pull away from us. We can also become angry when we are questioned about drinking or using drugs. It is not uncommon to say hurtful things to those we love the most. 

Even our friends that we initially started using with can turn on this. They can tell us we have a drinking or drug abuse problem. In turn, this makes us feel lonely and alone. No one wants to drink with us or use drugs with us. 

As our loneliness grows, we will isolate ourselves, so we do not have to listen to others question our drinking or drug use. When we are struggling with substance abuse and have begun to isolate ourselves away, we will notice various feelings, such as:

  • We can no longer connect with anyone emotionally or physically
  • None of our friends or family cares about us
  • There is no one that wants to be with us
  • We are being left out
  • It is hard to connect with others that do not abuse substances
  • We have been abandoned by the ones we love
  • We are fearful that we will always be alone

Overcoming Isolation and Substance Abuse

Life is full of challenges for teenage boys and young men. When we cannot overcome those challenges or learn how to deal with them responsibly, it could cause us to isolate ourselves or turn to alcohol or drugs as a coping mechanism. 

Whether your substance abuse led to loneliness and isolation or if your loneliness led to isolation and addiction, it is crucial to remember there is still hope when you want help. The path to recovery is not easy. 

Recovery starts by admitting your best friends – drugs and alcohol – are creating a rather destructive friendship, and it is time to let go. It is perfectly normal to feel grief when you start addiction treatment because you have lost access to the substances you relied on for so long.  

During recovery, you have the opportunity to repair damaged relationships with your family and friends. Depending on how bad things were, it can take time to repair the damage your addiction caused. The most important thing is to make peace with yourself, knowing you made an effort to repair the damage, even when the recipient is not ready to salvage your relationship. 

Addiction Treatment in Southern California

If you are a teenage boy or young man looking for help, or a parent or spouse that needs advice on how to help your son or husband, New Life House in Southern California is here to help. We offer custom-tailored addiction treatment programs for teens and young men.

Our treatment facilities are age-restricted, meaning that each facility focuses on a specific age group. We have found that providing a supportive and caring environment for teens and young men with their peers offers the opportunity to form life-long bonds and long-term sobriety. 

Please feel free to contact us to learn more about our addiction treatment programs and how we can help you or your loved one today!

Last Updated on February 22, 2024


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