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Social Isolation Can Increase The Risk & Prevalence Of Drug & Alcohol Addiction

Whilst for some people, the very thought of being socially isolated may sound strange, but for many drug addicts, isolation is an unfortunate by-product of drug addiction but it can also be a cause or prevailing factor in leading to a drug addiction.

I know for myself, in the years and months before starting my drug addiction I slowly began to become increasingly socially isolated, from most if not all of my friends, even to some of my core family members who would see me very rarely. The social isolation process for me personally was a double-edged sword. It meant I began to turn to drugs as a way out of the isolation however once I had become addicted to taking opiates, the isolation became even worse, compounding my whole situation to the point where contact with anyone was extremely rare. Apart from people I saw at work, and my fiancé, I began to cease all contact with friends, and only occasionally saw and was in contact with my core family.

Despite this personal story of my own, recent research conducted by the University of Texas at Austin (UT) has found that social isolation of laboratory rats addicted to amphetamines and/or alcohol leads to addiction both more quickly and is also harder to extinguish or cease.

There is plenty of evidence already that links the neurology of rats to humans with vast similarities in the way that drug addiction plays out in both species brains. With this evidence and research established, we need to be cognisant of the fact that whilst addiction is a major health issue, the underlying vast array of contributing factors, i.e. social isolation only being one of many – play a very important role in the comprehensive and complex system that make up addiction.

Now because alcohol and amphetamine abuse both directly affect the release of dopamine in the brain, the link to opiate abuse cannot be understated or forgotten. Opiate abuse also creates a release of dopamine within the brain, similar to the effects of alcohol and amphetamine use. With this correlation already evident, it is likely that a similar process of social isolation could definitely impact the way an addict consumes drugs and impact the way they recover from drug addiction.

If you are an isolationist and you know that it is or has impacted your life through drug addiction than you need to be vigilant and self-aware when you start to feel yourself retreating from the process of socialization – and if you begin to cut-off contact with friends or family than you MUST take steps to reach out for help.

Reference:

  1. http://www.narconon.org/blog/narconon/social-isolation-leads-to-substance-addiction/
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