Those individuals who fall into substance abuse can come from any background and they can have any personality type. Some of these people may appear to be quite well adjusted while others will be obviously struggling in life. The way people behave as a result of their addiction will also vary greatly. Some of them may prefer to get inebriated with friends while others may choose to do it alone and behind closed doors. In some ways the loner addict can be more at risk from this behavior because they will be better at hiding the problem, and they may be more resistant to asking for help.
One way of defining a loner would be to say that it refers to people, who is or prefers to be alone, especially one who avoids the company of others. This behavior of desiring to be alone is has traditionally been viewed as odd or suspicious. The term lone wolf may be used to refer to such people. This is because just like humans the wolf is considered to be a social animal. It is common to view loners as people who are missing out on the joy of life, but this is not always the case. There are people who just genuinely prefer their own company and are quite comfortable with solitude.
The word loner can actually be used to describe a number of different types of people including:
* Those people who are naturally introverted. Some people just prefer their own company, and they do not feel like they are missing out on anything by spending a great deal of their time alone.
* The shy individual will usually not like being alone, but they just do not feel comfortable around other people. The fact of being a loner can make shy people feel miserable.
* Some people choose to become loners because they feel it will benefit their life in some way. An example of this would be the spiritual seekers who go live in a cave so they can meditate undisturbed or those people who go live in the middle of nowhere so they can write the great novel.
* There are also those people who will be driven into solitude because of substance abuse or mental illness. For example, those alcoholics who worry about what other people think may do all their drinking behind closed curtains.
* Some people just become isolated because of where they live or because their physical health has deteriorated so that they are house bound.
The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung is credited with popularizing the word introvert. The word is used to describe to a certain type of person – an individual who is more concerned with their inner life than they are with the outer world. Introverts tend to be deep thinkers and they can be highly creative. They can also be quite skillful at self reflection but unfortunately this does not always prevent them from falling into addiction. Most introverts do not develop substance abuse problems but those who do can be ever more in denial about their problem than the extrovert addict. This is because their self reflection can turn to self delusion. They will also be good at hiding their problems with alcohol or drugs so other people will not challenge their behavior. The introverted addict can fall low into substance abuse and nobody might notice.
Shy people can turn to alcohol and drugs as a type of self medication. When they start using these substances they may experience a greater ease around other people. Instead of feeling shy inebriation can mean that they become outgoing and talkative. These chemicals tend to lower inhibitions so they individual no longer feels alienated and judged. Substance abuse can act as a temporary solution to shyness but this improvement comes with a heavy price. Alcoholics have described the situation as, alcohol gave me wings but then took away the sky. Once the individual falls into addiction their shyness will return with a vengeance. These substances stop working but by the time the person realizes this they are already hooked.
Addiction can turn even the most extroverted individual into a loner. It steals everything of value from the individual and one of the early things to go will be their self esteem and dignity. The person may struggle to look other people in the eye, and so increasingly they may favor solitude. The shame of being an addict can also encourage the individual to isolate from the rest of the world. People can be at their weakest when they are alone. This means that the isolated individual can feel completely at the mercy of their addiction.
The desire to be alone is not necessarily a bad thing, but loner addicts can be in particular danger because:
* Their decline into addiction may go undetected by other people. This means that there will be nobody there to encourage them to stop.
* The individual will find it easier to remain in denial about their problem because there is nobody to challenge them.
* One of the obvious signs that substance abuse is becoming a problem is that the person will find that their interpersonal relationships are falling apart. Loners will not notice this evidence of their increasing problems.
* Even if the loner is able to admit to themselves that they have a problem they can still be unwilling to admit this to anyone else. This means that are left to fight the addiction alone, and this may prove too much for them.
* The individual can use their desire for solitude as a justification not to go to rehab or make use of other recovery resources. This will be reducing their chances of finding success in recovery.
* Inebriation puts people at high risk of accidents. The individual could hurt themselves but be unable to contact the outside world because they are so isolated.
* Drug abuse often leads to symptoms of depression and loners can be particularly susceptible to this. If these symptoms go untreated it will further exacerbate the person’s decline and may even drive them to suicide.
Those individuals who seek help with ending their addiction are more likely to succeed. Giving up alcohol or drugs can be difficult, and there are many pitfalls that can knock people off course. Getting help does not mean that they individual is admitting weakness or that they will have to become a social butterfly. It just means that they are taking their recovery seriously and doing the right things. By asking for help the individual will gain access to valuable resources that will help them recover – it will also give them access to as much support and advice as they need.
One of the best ways that people can ensure a strong foundation in recovery is by attending rehab. It is usual for loners to rebel against this suggestion, but the reality is that nobody wants to go to rehab – people go because they want to get better. By entering such a facility the individual will be giving themselves the best possible start in recovery. They will have the opportunity to pick up the tools and knowledge that will help them build a successful future. Temporarily spending more time with a group of people is a small price to pay considering the advantages of attending. The loner may even find that they enjoy the process because their ability to self reflect will be a definite advantage in rehab.
It is certainly not impossible for people to make it alone in recovery, but it can be a much tougher path to take. The reality is that the majority of addicts who try to give up without any help or support will fail. This is often because when they get sober the problems that drove them to substance abuse in the first place will still be there. The main benefit of attending rehab is that it gives the individual the opportunity to develop new coping skills for dealing with life. This means that they will feel less need to turn to their maladaptive coping skills – alcohol and drugs. It is also extremely helpful to have at least some friends who are also in recovery – this provides the opportunity for pooling information and learning form each other’s successes and failures. These days it is not even necessarily to physically spend much time with other people as there is a thriving recovery community online. Face to face contact is better, but making use of what is available on the web is going to be better than no social interactions at all.