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Addiction and Loneliness


Loneliness

Loneliness is often viewed as a negative state of existence, although some alone time is needed to recharge. A Harvard study mentions “25% to 60% of older Americans suffer from loneliness. Another site reflected loneliness in younger audiences with “79% of Gen Z, aged 18 to 22 feeling lonely” and secondly, “71% of Millennials reported feeling lonely.” The link between loneliness and addiction should be something that people are aware of during these uncertain times. Being alone and being lonely are characteristically different with varying effects on our mind, body, and emotions. Furthermore, being alone can be seen as healthy as people can find being alone as way to disconnect from a stressful life. For example, perhaps you are at a park enjoying the scenery around you. Your mood may be peaceful and joyful; there is a sense of feeling complete despite being in solitude.

In contrast, you can be in relationships and be miserable and lonely due to a lack of connection. Loneliness often includes being alone and feeling as if there is a loss or an inner void needing to be filled. It is a state of mind that causes someone to feel rejected, unloved, excluded, ignored, and invalidated. For example, lonely people may seek companionship but because of sadness, anxiety, depression, or negative thoughts and other factors, he or she may find it difficult to connect with others, creating a cycle of isolation and pain.


How Loneliness and Addiction are Linked

Because of the increased likelihood of depression and possibly poor self-esteem, someone can decide to cope with these emotions in an unhealthy manner. Loneliness and addiction go hand-in-hand for a large number of people suffering from a substance use disorder. Using harmful substances to cope with challenges like depression, anxiety, and trauma are called co-morbid disorders. In cases of loneliness, someone can easily fall into the lure of drinking to cope. A study conducted by the Journal of Aging and Health cited loneliness as a risk factor for alcohol abuse.

Moreover, the study found alcohol consumption more common in older adults. A reported 65% of “adults aged 45 years or older who have been diagnosed with drug or alcohol abuse report being lonely.” Ironically, those who have begun a drug or alcohol habit may often choose isolation to hide their habit from loved ones or friends, increasingly become lonelier to cope with feelings of being lonely. As a result, one can use alcohol or drugs to find short-term relief. To add, other drugs like cocaine or meth can become a substance of choice to increase low moods, give someone energy, and produce euphoric feelings to combat depression. Once someone has become dependent on harmful drugs like these, professional help is best to relieve the mind and body of cravings and reduce the risk of a fatal or non-fatal overdose.

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