Loneliness: Why we Feel so Alone When we Struggle With our Mental Health

Loneliness’s Effects on the Brain

Many men know that one can have the busiest social life, be thriving in his job, have a satisfying romantic partnership, have a family, and be frequented by human beings yet still feel incredibly lonely. Addiction is strengthened by loneliness. Isolation, desolation, and hopelessness are cohorts of loneliness, contributing to the feeling of needing to do drugs and alcohol. For many men, their substance of choice, whether it be alcohol or heroin, becomes their intimate partner, their closest friend, their most trusted confidant. Vertigo is a way that many men describe their lives in addiction, seeing only their need for filling the requirements of their addiction. Simultaneously, men’s brain chemistry changes to prioritize the need for mind altering substances, creating a chemical impulse toward drugs and alcohol as a positive and casting other people- people who might get in the way of addiction- as a negative. Often, men who hit “bottom” in their addiction feel extremely lonely. Reaching through that loneliness and reaching out for help is an extraordinary feat of courage and strength.

The Harvard Longevity Project is the longest running social project ever done, according to Salon in an article titled “The mental health and loneliness paradox”. For 78 years, over 700 Harvard men were followed and tracked every two years to determine what choices in their lives had what kind of effects on the rest of their lives. Loneliness, the study found, could be fatal. “Looking back on their lives, people most often reported that their time spent with others as most meaningful, and the part of their lives of which they were the proudest,” Ideas.TED.com reports on the study. Connection is an essential antidote to relapse in addiction. The famous study “Rat Park” found that mice who lived in a more open cage with other mice, activities, and access to cocaine laced water did not become addicted to cocaine and chose the drug less often than when they were isolated with only access to cocaine laced water.

When men come to treatment at Tree House Recovery in Orange County they enter more than a treatment program. Men at Tree House enter an elite brotherhood of men devoted to recovering and lifelong alumni of recovered individuals committed to living a life of abstinence. Our program of treatment includes intensive team-building exercises in fitness, therapy, and adventure in order to break the barriers created by addiction and build a strong connection between members of the program. Find freedom from addiction today by calling us for information on our treatment programs: (855) 202-2138

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