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Why Do We Isolate Ourselves in Recovery?

Once in recovery, it’s easy to assume that our many issues and challenges will be resolved. We expect treatment programs to magically heal us as soon as we enroll. We’re impatient to feel normal again and reintegrate back into our lives. The truth is, we can continue to be impacted by many of the same difficulties that we had when we were still actively using. One of these difficulties is our tendency to isolate ourselves. Addicts often disconnect from the people in our lives and separate ourselves from various parts of our lives. We can find that we’re still stuck in patterns of isolation, even after getting sober. Why do we still isolate in recovery?

Lingering and New Emotional Challenges

The difficult feelings we experienced as part of our addictive patterns persist even in sobriety. We can find ourselves still feeling sad, anxious, lost, and confused. Our everyday lives still lack the fulfillment and inspiration we expected to receive in recovery. Sometimes the recovery process itself is so demanding that it brings up challenging feelings we never experienced before. Suddenly, we’re coping with fears that we won’t be able to get sober, apprehension about sobriety itself, and whether we want to be sober at all. The recovery process reopens old wounds, unresolved issues, and traumatic experiences. This buried pain has to come to light for us to heal, but it can be extremely difficult to process. When we’re going through these things, we can find ourselves feeling increasingly emotional. We might have intense mood swings and even struggle to get out of bed. Even simple tasks throughout our daily routine can feel overwhelming. When this is the case, we often isolate ourselves in response. Discussing our challenges with other people is daunting and overwhelming. We’re filled with fear that people will judge us. We can feel so emotional that we just want to be alone. Even though we want recovery to heal us immediately, recovery can be a very emotional, extended process. In response to this sudden influx of intense and scary emotions, we often hide from those who seek to help us. 

 Who Am I?

One of the hardest challenges we face is that we don’t feel like ourselves. We’re struggling to figure out who we are, and what sobriety means for us. Sober, we find that we have entirely different personality traits from when we were using. These changes can leave us unable to recognize ourselves. As we’re trying to make sense of this new person, we have to grieve the loss of certain aspects of ourselves. Just because a certain personality trait may be associated with using doesn’t mean we didn’t have fond attachments to that behavior. For example, we might feel as though we lack confidence and self-assuredness now that we’re sober. Our drugs of choice gave us a false sense of high self-esteem. Without drugs, we find ourselves struggling to deal with social anxiety that didn’t trouble us before. We might feel as though we miss the personable, outgoing person we were when we were using. Now, we have to get to know this new version of ourselves. 

On the other hand, we might have been temperamental and hostile when we were using. Now that we’re sober, we have to figure out new ways of communicating and handling conflict. All of these factors can make us feel as if we don’t know who we are. Suddenly, we don’t recognize ourselves, and we have to reconcile this new person we’ve become with the old person we’ve lost. When we’re in this place, the hardest thing to do is be around people, so we isolate ourselves. We don’t know how to interact with people or introduce them to this new version of ourselves. It becomes scary to engage in our old relationships and just as scary to meet new people. We isolate ourselves out of self-defense. We’re still making sense of our new lives, and being around people can feel threatening and destabilizing.

Avoiding Temptation

Sometimes we isolate ourselves in recovery because we’re afraid that if we go anywhere, we’ll be tempted to use again. We might feel as though we’re encountering triggers and sources of temptation everywhere we go. Rather than take the risk, we retreat inwards and isolate ourselves. Danger seems to be everywhere, and we become recluses instead of learning to cope with potential triggers. We might be reminded of old dysfunctional patterns if we visit the same places we used to frequent. Temptations could easily crop up if we see people using their drug of choice. The social circles where we used to feel comfortable may be the same circles that encourage and enable our drug use. To keep ourselves safe, many of us will continue to isolate ourselves well into our recovery. Isolation is an entirely natural instinct, but one that is detrimental to our recovery and healing. 

 If you know that you tend to isolate, getting sober in a social environment can be a great boon. The Guest House Ocala provides unparalleled, premier-quality treatment to those who suffer from self-defeating behaviors brought on by trauma and its underlying issues. We are uniquely equipped to help our guests heal from trauma-induced substance abuse and process addiction in a safe, comfortable, and confidential setting. Call 855-483-7800 today for more information.