Sometimes you might feel like you’re the only person in the world who loves someone with a substance problem. The truth is that many millions of people are walking down this challenging and often painful road. As you’re dealing with all of this, you might notice that, on purpose or by accident, you start to pull away from other people and become more and more isolated, which then can make it even harder to decide to reach out. We encourage you to watch out for this and do what you can to fight against urges to go “underground.” We are wired to be social creatures, and there is a lot to be gained from spending time with people, including their support!
You may have concerns about privacy, gossip, and the “public” perception of your loved one/yourself/your family if you put yourself out there and socialize more. While those are reasonable concerns to think about as you pick and choose who you do and don’t want to confide in, please do not underestimate the horrible toll that feeling isolated in a problem can have on you. Isolation contributes to and can increase depression, anxiety, loneliness, and a whole host of other challenges that will not serve you well as you are dealing with all of this. Taking steps to add more social contact into your life can chip away just a little, or a lot, of the feeling that you are alone at sea.
Even if you don’t feel that isolation is a big part of your stress right now, you might still consider setting some goals around socializing to see if it helps anyway – isolation can creep up on you. This can be especially true for people who are used to being very busy and having a hard time fitting social time on the calendar, solving all of their problems pretty effectively on their own, not in the habit of asking for help (or maybe even dead-set against it!), and feeling private or ashamed about this particular issue. Remember this: you are not alone in this problem and fighting against isolation may well help you find solutions to your problems faster.
We encourage you to consider picking one way you can reach out to another person/people this week. Remember that reaching out doesn’t have to mean that you share all your innermost thoughts and feelings with someone. You can get support in all kinds of ways, so think about not only who might be useful to confide in, but also who is good at making you laugh, distracting you, doing something fun with you, and who is good at helping you feel relaxed. It doesn’t have to be a confessional (though if that helps then go for it), just a way to re-engage with the world in other than a “stressing out” way.