“Then he will know loneliness such as few do” – Alcoholic Anonymous pg. 152
Imagine if you will, waking up in the morning knowing that if you do not get the substances you need, you will experience the horrific uncomfortability of withdrawals. Imagine that when your eyes open you are acutely aware of every wrong doing you have done in the past ten years and just how much you have hurt the people closest to you. Imagine that before your feet even hit the ground your mind is already awash with guilt and shame, spinning uncontrollably towards the day’s schemes that will get you high. Now imagine that all of that mental juggling is done in silence, not exposed to anyone and that while it is going on, you have to pretend that everything is okay, that your life isn’t spiraling out of control. If you can imagine that, then you may have some understanding of the lonely disease that is addiction.
The above is a typical day in the life of an addict. They wake up already disconnected from the normal realties of life and they are solely focused on surviving throughout the day. Their ability to truly connect with the people around them is severely lacking because they cannot let anyone get too close for fear that their secret addiction will be found out and because of this, they are forced to keep all of their innermost thoughts locked away inside.
This is not to say that many addicts who are actively using are aware that they are doing this, but rather the disease permeates the person’s consciousness in such a manner that it takes complete control. Dictating how and when they interact with people, all with the goal of perpetuating the addiction and keeping it going for as long as possible.
Not to mention that if even the addict was aware that this was going on, they would still feel alone because a majority of the time, the people around them would not be able to relate to the mental torture they are going through. They would say things like, “Well, why don’t you just stop using.” Meaning well when they say this, but being wholly unaware that this is not possible. This is the reason that many people who get sober say that they always felt different from the people around them for most of their lives and that it wasn’t until they got sober that they felt apart of.
However, addiction isn’t just a lonely disease because of the mental wall that is built between the addict and the rest of society, but it is a lonely disease because it actually causes the addict to isolate themselves from others. Whether this is done on the part of the addict, through distancing themselves in order to protect their addiction or whether people walk out on the addict because they have been hurt, the result is the same, loneliness and isolation.
Many addicts at some point in their addiction will find that they have lost just about all of the relationships in their life. They will find that this has occurred because they have lied and stolen from many of the people closest to them and they will find that many people could just no longer be around them. As human beings, we crave community and we need people because we are not meant to be solitary creatures. For the addict, this is often times not possible during the later stages of addiction and because of it, they fall into despair, which just further fuels their addiction.
It is an interesting dilemma that the addict faces because on the one hand, their addiction forces them to be isolated. It needs them to be alone so that it can fulfill its final design, their destruction, but on the other hand, the addict’s basic human make up craves relationships. What this usually results in is a cycle of addiction that is fed by loneliness and thoughts like, “I don’t need anyone” or “No one understands.”
Breaking out of this cycle can be very difficult and it usually is only accomplished once the addict looks inside of themselves and feels a level of emptiness that few people will ever know. It is the culmination of the lonely disease, where they can no longer see their life continuing in the manner it is going and yet they cannot see another way out. They know that they cannot continue to use drugs and they don’t know how to stop. As terrible as this loneliness can be, it is the ‘jumping off’ point for getting help and once an addict reaches this sort of bottom; recovery usually becomes an inevitable thing.
So while it can sometimes be difficult to empathize with an addict who is in active addiction, and while they shouldn’t be given preferential treatment, I think it is important for people to understand what the life of an addict is truly like. They do not operate with wanton disregard for those around them because they are unfeeling, but rather they are forced to do so by a disease that is incredibly powerful and incredibly baffling. They experience loneliness on a level that not many people could comprehend and often times this loneliness will keep them from asking for help or from seeing another way out of their misery.
Seeking Treatment for Alcoholism and Addiction
If you or a loved one has a problem with alcoholism or addiction, and want to experience recovery in a thriving community with lots of people just like you, then call the professionals at Dream Center for Recovery today at 1-877-978-3148. Our trained staff is standing by to take your call and help you in any way we can. We know how difficult of a decision this can be and we know what it takes to ensure you find your own person path in recovery. You no longer have to do it alone, so give us a call today and find the happy and sober life you’ve always dreamed of.