There are numerous reasons for why individuals with addiction isolate:
1) They would like to hide their addiction from others. Friends and family do not generally respond well to someone who is engaged in addictive behaviors. Isolation keeps them from getting scolded and being pressured to change the behavior.
2) Individuals with addiction are often shunned by friends and family and tend to be lonely.
3) Low self esteem is often associated with addictions. As a result, it is easier to not put oneself out into public scrutiny where self-esteem issues may be triggered.
4) Additionally, it is not uncommon for loneliness and isolation to precede the addictive behavior and to contribute to the person adopting unhealthy coping behaviors, such as drugs or alcohol.
Humans are social creatures and we crave connection to other humans. This is even more important for someone who is struggling with addictions as they need the extra support and encouragement. Alcoholics Anonymous has become as powerful of a recovery tool as it has partly because it promotes a sense of community and connection. The isolated mind has a tendency to get stuck in patterns of thinking that are unhealthy. For example, when we talk to a friend about something that is upsetting us, it often helps because our friends validate our feelings and help us put things in perspective and move on. The isolated mind has the potential of getting stuck in a negative loop reinforcing the addictive behavior.
Author: Dr. Seda Gragossian