26 Nov Why People Call Addiction a “Disease of Isolation”
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines addiction as “a complex condition, a brain disease manifested by compulsive substance use despite harmful consequences.” By definition, addiction is a relationship formed between an individual and a substance rather than a human being with another human. When individuals are consumed by their relationship with alcohol or drug(s) of choice, the substance becomes the central focal point of their lives, psychologically and physiologically. Important relationships such as family, friends, and life partners fall by the wayside as the person with substance use disorder becomes deeply engulfed in the flames of addiction and social isolation.
Humans, by nature, are social creatures. Social interaction is essential to our mental and emotional health, but addiction destroys a person’s ability to develop and maintain healthy relationships with other people which can cause isolation. In an attempt to manage stress and improve their moods, individuals turn to drugs and alcohol to make their situation more bearable but in the process, they can end up severing connections with loved ones through reckless behavior and hurtful actions.
How do drugs and alcohol destroy relationships?
As a person starts drinking or using drugs, loved ones may notice a change in behavior and personality, and when they confront, the user may withdraw from them to avoid judgment and criticism. Users may also find a new crowd of people who will support their addictive behaviors, which would further complicate the process of recovery if users choose to break away from those who are trying to help them. As the user’s personality changes due to his or her growing chemical dependency, the effects of drug abuse start to rear their ugly head in the following ways:
• Neglect of important relationships such as spouse and children
• More dramatic mood swings, increased irritability
• Decreased affection
• Estranged professional relationships at work
• Decrease in job performance
• Workplace absenteeism
• Disproportionate/irrational anger
• Physical aggression and violence
• Verbal and sexual abuse
• Financial problems
• Reckless, irresponsible behavior (e.g., DUI tickets, gross negligence, etc.)
• Criminal behavior
• Deceit and theft (e.g., missing items around the house sold for drug purchases)
• Extramarital affairs
• Substance use becomes the priority over relationships
• Relationships become a means to an end
What other risk factors contribute to social isolation?
For many, depression and anxiety are risk factors for substance abuse addiction, particularly attachment anxiety. In the context of addiction treatment, these and other disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are treated as co-occurring disorders with substance use disorder.
Individuals who grow up with inconsistent or unpredictable parental figures are likely to develop attachment anxiety, which is expressed in separation anxiety and dysfunctional attitudes about oneself. By the time they reach adulthood, they will have developed insecure attachment styles in their relationships with other adults, which would predispose them to substance abuse addiction if they do not learn how to develop better attachment styles with significant relationships that could extend them a lifeline in their time of need.
Let New Method Wellness help you draw out your loved ones
If you know or suspect that a loved one is struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. In all likelihood, your loved ones may not even realize they need help because they are disconnected from their own emotions and are in complete denial. Does your spouse, significant other, or adult children withdraw more after you have confronted them with your concerns? Help is available! You don’t have to reach out alone. There are ways to help your loved ones even if they keep slipping away from you.
New Method Wellness is a premier dual diagnosis center in San Juan Capistrano, CA. Unique to New Method Wellness is its 3:1 staff-to-client ratio, meaning that every client who seeks treatment will receive double attention from distinguished therapists who specialize in addiction treatment. Clients receive comprehensive, integrated care with holistic therapy that aims to heal the mind, body, and spirit. Dually accredited by JACHO and CARF International, New Method Wellness is committed to delivering superb client-centered care that yields high success rates and long-term recovery.
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