“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”
-Marina Keegan, The Opposite of Loneliness
Loneliness can have a harmful impact on your mental health. When you feel alone in your struggles with no one to reach out to, you might think that your pain does not matter. When you have no one to share success with, you might feel like your happiness does not matter.
Loneliness in Recovery
Feeling lonely in early recovery is common. You might have cut people out of your life if they were unhealthy for you to be around. Some people might cross your boundaries continually, putting your mental health and sometimes physical well-being at risk.
For those recovering from addiction, you will need to cut out any bad influences, such as drinking and drug buddies. You are also cutting out an addictive substance, which is also a relationship in a way. You might have used substances as a way to cope with stressors and underlying issues. Maybe you felt like you could rely on substances or alcohol as a source of comfort.
During recovery, finding healthy connections and coping skills will help you maintain sobriety, minimize triggers, and prevent relapse. The opposite of loneliness means making meaningful and healthy connections that will give you the strength and support needed to live a happy life.
The Need to Belong
All people have a strong need to belong. We want to belong to a family, community, society, group, or other entity. When we are rejected, we might experience anxiety and low self-esteem. Connection to others is crucial to survival and happiness.
During recovery, you could feel incredibly vulnerable and unsafe if you have no one to rely on for support. You might also have supportive family or friends, yet you feel like they don’t quite understand what you are going through.
Family and loved ones may need you to guide them along during your recovery. Being open and honest about your needs will help your loved ones better understand what you are going through. You can also encourage them to participate in your treatment planning, learn more about mental health and addiction, or attend support group meetings with you.
However, you should also look for like-minded people to share the unique experience of recovery. Family and friends are great for support, accountability, and help. But, when you connect with someone who has felt what you felt, you can feel a new sense of connection that is the opposite of loneliness.
Finding Like-Minded People
Surrounding yourself with like-minded people can help you during your recovery. Sometimes, you know a like-minded person when you meet them, yet you cannot describe the feeling when you finally do. You just know it when you experience it as if the other person mirrors your soul.
Often, like-minded people connect by their shared thoughts, feelings, interests, and visions. Like-minded people connect with you on your most unique and vulnerable level. They might share an interest with you in something that you might even feel embarrassed to tell others about.
For example, you might love a band that no one else you know listens to or a comic book few people have read. Maybe you have a niche interest in an obscure historical figure or event. When you meet someone else with similar interests, the connection can feel incredibly profound.
Peer Support in Recovery
Peer support can help you feel connected to others who share your emotional struggles with addiction or mental health issues in recovery. When you feel like you can connect with others, who have experienced not necessarily the same event, but the same feelings, you can find that special connection that is the opposite of loneliness.
Both you and your family can benefit from finding peer support. Family members, parents, and loved ones also share a unique experience caring about someone who struggles. They have been through your ups and downs with you. They might have been hurt or otherwise felt negatively impacted during the worst of your addiction — however unintentional.
Parents of teens who struggle can find connections on Fire Mountain Residential Treatment’s Facebook group, “Parenting Teens That Struggle.” You can share stories, ask for help, or find resources to help your teen who struggles with addiction, mental health, or problematic behaviors.
Sharing Your Dreams and Goals With Others
Often, people focus on sharing pain with others to find connections. However, you might also feel lonely if you have no one to share your dreams, hopes, aspirations, and goals with.
Sharing your successes and finding support is just as important when things aren’t going well. When you seek like-minded people, look for those that share similar goals and values. When something goes right and you achieve a new milestone in recovery, sharing these wins will significantly impact your mental wellness and motivation in recovery.
Building connections with others and finding peer support is beneficial for a child who struggles. We all need to feel like we belong to a group or have a “tribe.” Recovery can feel lonely, especially in the early stages. You might cut out harmful influences from your life. However, we all need to feel a sense of belonging to succeed in our recovery. Getting support from others who have “been there” or are like-minded with similar goals can significantly impact our recovery and relapse prevention. At Fire Mountain Residential Treatment Center in the Colorado Rockies, we understand the value of strong bonds and connections in recovery. We help kids who struggle build healthy friendships with one another in their shared goal of living a happy life. We also help parents and loved ones find their peers who understand their unique struggles. Call us today at (303) 443-3343.