The Difference Between Loneliness and Isolation

Alone Man from back walking through the fog on street

When we get clean, we become open to a new world of understanding, especially into how our thoughts and behaviors are related. It can be an exciting time, but it is equally a frightening one. After all, running on auto-pilot has been our mode of operation for so long. Taking the time to ask ourselves, “why?” can actually be flat-out terrifying. In the long run, becoming introspective and getting in touch with the exact nature of ourselves and our disease is arguably the most valuable asset at our disposal.

Understanding that our emotions are the cause and our actions are the effect is crucial, especially when it comes to isolation and loneliness. Feelings are the inspiration for every action we take and in recovery, this can be both an asset and a deterrent. The drugs almost entirely eliminated our ability or need to feel for so long, that coming to terms with them can indeed be an overwhelming experience.

Multiracial group of friends with hands on stack and looking down at camera. They are six persons, three boys and three girls, on their early twenties. Teamwork and cooperation concepts.

Having people to help us through the darkest times is the most valuable tool a recovering addict can have. It’s ok to ask for help.

Loneliness is a feeling. Nothing more, nothing less. It is not always an indication of how loved or connected to the rest of the world we are, as some of the loneliest people in the world sit high and tall on the social food chain. It’s ok to feel lonely sometimes, but we must not give in to those feelings and voluntarily remove ourselves from our lives. Being able to participate in our own lives today is truly the greatest gift that recovery can offer, and one that many recovering addicts–both newcomers and oldtimers–often sacrifice by giving into the feelings of loneliness that we sometimes go through. Isolation is one of the biggest signs of an impending relapse, but it is one that we can take charge of.

It’s not always easy to admit that we are going through difficult times, especially when we don’t completely understand them ourselves, but asking for help is the foundation we built our recovery on. We must do the thing we have been taught from day one if we want to get better and reach out. Every recovering addict knows the feelings that you’re going through. We have strength in numbers, and if you have an urge to pull away, you always have somebody who is willing to lift you up, even if you don’t realize it.