As people fall lower into addiction they may become increasingly isolated. Even if they still manage to drink in the company of other people they can still feel that they are somehow cut off from the rest of the world. This is when substance abuse can do the most damage. If the individual feels that they are facing their addiction alone it can leave them feeling defenseless. They feel defeated and do not know of any way out of the situation. It is only when this person understands that they are not really alone that they can begin to escape thir situation.
The word introvert was popularized by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung in the early part of the last century. It refers to those people who are more concerned with their own inner life rather than the outside world. The introvert enjoys solitude and differs from the extrovert who likes to be around other people. A more precise way of defining introversion might be to say that it, the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one’s own mental life.
An introvert is often referred to as a lone wolf in popular culture. This refers to the way wolves usually stay in packs but occasionally there will be wolves that live alone. The reason for their solo status is usually that they have been driven away by the rest of the pack. Humans are believed to be like wolves in that they are social animals. Those people who are considered to be loners can be viewed negatively or even suspiciously. There is a tendency to view such people as missing out on life, but this is often not the case. Introverts prefer solitude, and they do not feel like they are missing out on anything. It is not that their approach to the world is wrong – it is just different.
Not all loners are introverts. There are some people who deeply yearn to be able to socialize with other people, but they just do not feel able to do this. Such individuals are usually described as shy. This person does not choose to be alone because it makes them happy but because they feel like they have no choice. Shyness can be defined as an inhibition in interpersonal relationships that is negatively impacting the individual’s life. The shy loner is not happy with who they are and in order to improve their life they will usually have to overcome their shyness. The introvert will not usually feel the need to overcome anything because they are doing what comes naturally to them.
Despite the tendency to view the desire to be alone negatively there are actually some benefits associated with being an introvert including:
* Introverts tend to be deep thinkers and this can definitely be an advantage in life. The individual is able to dig down deep into a subject to get closer to the truth.
* This type of personality is often better at thinking critically about things. This means that they are less likely to hold beliefs and opinions that are illogical.
* Introverts tend to be self sufficient and capable of doing most things for themselves. They do not rely too heavily on other people and this is empowering.
* This person will not always be waiting for other people to judge them before deciding if what they are doing is right. This personality type is also less concerned with what other people think of them.
* The introvert may not have many friends but the friendships they do have tend to be deeper – they are more likely to have friends for life. Extroverts may know a whole bunch of people but such relationships will often be superficial.
* They do not waste time trying to impress other people and trying to win their approval.
* This individual will be better at self reflection and this means that they will understand themselves better. It can often be the inability to reflect and learn that causes people to become stuck in life and suffer as a result.
* Introverts can do well in their careers because of their calm and thoughtful approach to work. They may often pick up on things that other people will miss.
* Despite their preference for being alone they can be highly effective within a team. This is because the introvert will not be interested in clashing with other people’s egos, and their ability to think deeply will be of benefit to the group.
* Introverts tend to be good listeners and this makes them valuable friends to have.
It would be far too simplistic to say that introversion leads to substance abuse. This is because most of those who have this type of personality will have never had any difficulties with alcohol or drugs. It has been observed though that the majority of addicts start off as loners. This can be because they feel shy or because they are introverted. When these people initially begin to use alcohol and drugs it can significantly improve their ability to deal with social situations. It can turn even the most reticent introvert into a social butterfly. This increased ability to socialize is usually short lived as the person falls into addiction. Alcohol and drugs sucks all the good out of life over time and eventually the individual will feel more isolated than they ever did.
Those people who would be described as introverted face particular dangers when it comes to addiction including:
* The introvert will be better at hiding their problems. This means they can fall deep into addiction without family and friends realizing the extent of the decline.
* If other people are not aware of the problem the individual will be better able to deny to themselves that they have a problem.
* Once the addiction takes hold the introvert will usually prefer to drink or use drugs alone. This further increases their ability to hide the problem.
* The introvert may be less willing to admit that they have a problem and ask for help.
* Their fear of social situations may keep people trapped in addiction because they do not like the idea of going to rehab. They use their introversion as a justification to keep on drinking.
* The ability to think deeply about things can become a liability when people are addicted to alcohol and drugs. It means that they can become trapped inside their own delusions, and it can be difficult for other people to break through.
* It is easier for the addict to fall into the trip of negative thinking – sometimes called stinking thinking. This is because there may not be other people around to challenge such thinking.
* Some introverts resist getting help from other people. This can mean that they fail to make use of the best available resources for them in recovery.
* Those people who try to face addiction alone can feel overwhelmed by the challenge of entering recovery. There are many addicts who do not seem able to escape their addiction without at least some help.
Those introverts who do manage to break away from addiction can once again use their own personality to their own advantage. The advantages of being an introvert in recovery include:
* Self reflection is considered a vital skill if people hope to build a successful recovery and introverts will be able to do this naturally.
* Introverts may be able to get more from the experience of rehab because they will be better at listening and reflecting on the information that is given.
* This type of person will not be waiting for other people to fix them. They know that in order to escape their addiction they will need to take responsibility and take action.
* The introvert can develop deep and meaningful relationships after they become sober. They will still enjoy having time alone, but they can also get deep satisfaction from the relationships they do have.
* Techniques such as meditation can be of great benefit to people in recovery. Introverts tend to take to these practices like a duck to water – in fact the peace they find in meditation will often be the peace they were trying to find with substance abuse.
* The introvert can use their natural ability to self reflect to monitor their own behavior in recovery. This means that they should be better at spotting when they are moving towards relapse or adopting new maladaptive behaviors.
* This type of personality can be better suited for helping other people enter recovery – active addicts often need somebody to listen. Doing this type of service is not only a way to give back but by helping other people the individual strengthens their own recovery.