Recently I have been reading a lot about the fact that connection is the antidote to addiction. In a very unformulated way I think I have believed this for years. One of the reasons that 12 step fellowships, such as alcoholics anonymous, work so well is that they bring people back from isolation to a place which they describe as a ‘being in a place where they feel they belong’. Often my clients will report that their addiction left them physically isolated but sometimes they may state that they were surrounded by people. When we explore this further it nearly always transpires that their addiction had managed to make them feel isolated and alone even when sometimes surrounded by copious amounts of people.
When I first heard the word isolated I didn’t really know what it meant. I imagined it to mean being in the middle of a forest on your own or being stranded on a desert island. I didn’t understand it as a spiritual problem. In fact if you had mentioned the word spiritual to me I would have ran a mile. As someone who has suffered from addiction in many forms I now understand isolation to be something born from a sense of shame and self-loathing. It doesn’t start out that way. It starts out as using substances on your own primarily so as to not be seen to using too much, not having to explain yourself, an underlying sense that the way your using is not quite right, maybe a sense of paranoia if other people are around, it may even be you just don’t want to have to share your stash. Whatever the reasons may start out as somewhere along the line something changes. That desire to be alone turns into a need to be alone. Facing other people becomes too difficult whether it be due to shame, embarrassment, social anxiety, depression, paranoia, psychosis the result is the same – you are spending more and more time alone due to need not want.
Human beings were originally tribal, we were surrounded by other people having a common cause to find a way to survive. As time progressed we lived in communities of extended families. The common man had no means to travel far so families lived close to one another, often in the same street or village. As time has further progressed western society developed the terminology ‘the nuclear family’, this was when the norm was familys to live together as mum, dad and dependants. Travel and money was more accessable and no longer did we necessarily live close to our families. Now we live in an age where community is seen as a thing of the past. Thatcher coined the term ‘rugged individualism’. There is a sense certainly in England of every one looking out for themselves. There are many single parents bringing up children on their own, many elderly folk with no friends or kin near to them. More and more our society is setting us up to being isolated. As human beings we are not meant to be alone. We are not meant to be isolated. Mental health and addiction has a fertile ground in which to flourish.
So whether we become isolated due to the society we live in or it is due to using substances that we slowly start to isolate ourselves, the result is the same. We are living in un natural conditions for the human spirit to thrive. The more isolated we become the our need is to kill the spiritual pain and discord of this.
So it makes sense to me that connection is the antidote to addiction. We need to feel connected tour environment, our families, our friends and possibly our ‘god’.
Therapy can be the first step to recognising how isolated you have become through your addiction. Having recognised this then the next step may be to explore why isolation is so damaging to the human spirit and how it keeps the cycle of addiction going. Learning how to connect again can be a difficult process that support and motivation can help with. Therapy can help you within that one to one relationship build up trust with another human being. The hope is that from this initial connection the client can learn how to reach out to others with similar problems thus deepening their connection to their own existence. In time this can lead to a total reintegration with life and all the possibilities that go along with this.
If you need help with add