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Loneliness – mental health, substance abuse, and addiction …

latest blog by Ibiza Calm

Ibiza Calm - Loneliness – mental health, substance abuse, and addiction …
23/11/2023 | category: News

Loneliness – mental health, substance abuse, and addiction …

We are rapidly moving towards the end of the year and the holiday season is almost upon us. Which, for many, is a joyous time – parties and get-togethers with family, friends, colleagues. However, for some, it is not “the season to be jolly”. It can be difficult, fraught with emotion and expectation, or full of loneliness and fear.

People struggle with feelings of loneliness all year round. But it is often felt more strongly during the festive season because there is such emphasis placed on family and friendship during this period. It is visible on the TV; highlighted in adverts, emphasised in almost every rom-com Christmas movie.

It feels like everywhere you look; people seem to be gathering, in couples, in groups, in families, enjoying each other’s company, and having fun. For someone who is feeling low, or a person who may be spending their first holiday alone, it serves to highlight feelings of loneliness and isolation.

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What is loneliness?

Loneliness is the feeling of being isolated, of not having a connection to other people. It is the cognitive discomfort that is generated when a person’s need for intimacy is not met. It doesn’t necessarily always equate to being alone. Some people are content with their own company; whilst others can feel lonely in a room full of people, or when they are in a relationship.

It can occur when a person feels they lack companionship, or when they are emotionally or physically isolated from others. When they don’t or can’t form authentic relationships. When they feel left out and separated. When someone’s desire for interaction doesn’t match the quantity or quality of the relationship’s they have.

It is generally perceived as being involuntary, caused by an inability to make social connections (because of illness, a lack of confidence, an event). As opposed to solitude, which is usually deemed as voluntary, a choice someone has made.

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Who is more likely to feel lonely?

Feelings of loneliness and isolation can affect anyone at any time. Although certain age groups do seem to be impacted more, young adults and the elderly.

Studies have shown that as many as 70% of adolescents and young adults, reported feelings of loneliness. This could be for many reasons, one being they haven’t yet fully developed the social skills to be entirely confident with themselves, so struggle to form authentic relationships. Yet are still unsure of their own emotions, therefore are less comfortable in their own company.

Dependence on technology may be another factor. A generation which has grown up interacting online, is more comfortable with a screen than a live person.

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With the elderly population, the reasons are more likely to be because of circumstance. Such as –

  • Illness and immobility – meaning they are more physically isolated, unable to get out to clubs, social events, or even the local shop.
  • Death of a spouse – the sadness and loss of losing a partner is devastating. After spending a lifetime (or a long time) with one person, it is incredibly difficult to create a new life, meet new people.
  • Friends passing – as people age, so do their friends, meaning they have the same issues with mobility, frailty, it is harder for them to get about and meet up. They are also more likely to experience the death of close friends, leaving their circle smaller.
  • Family relocating – families age and grow. Circumstances like a new job and children of their own, can cause them to move further away, or have less time to spend with elderly relations.

All these; and many other situational variables, divorce, lack of money, experiencing a disturbing or traumatic event; can have a causal effect on the way someone is feeling, at any age.

Factors related to an individual’s personality can also impact upon how a person searches out and makes connections – low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence, being an introvert. Mood disorders such as depression and anxiety can also play a part in how a person behaves, these types of conditions often cause individuals to withdraw into themselves and shy away from social situations.

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The health risks associated with loneliness.

No matter the age, circumstances, or personality type, anyone can experience feelings of isolation, and it has been scientifically proven that loneliness is a contributing factor in the advancement of many physical and mental health conditions. These include –

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Loneliness – substance abuse, mental health, and addiction.

Loneliness, substance abuse, mental health and addiction are all intrinsically linked, with one impacting upon any of the others. Loneliness will cause some individuals to use substances; alcohol, drugs, prescription medicine, food; to escape from both emotional and physical pain. The use of substances itself is isolating, causing the user to withdraw from social contact and meaningful relationships.

Individuals use the comfort of their chosen substance to cope with feelings; loneliness, rejection, hopelessness – and any other difficult or painful emotion. Once the high wears off, the individual is left with the original unresolved pain, frequently intensified by guilt, shame, and regret, so they will use again to numb the feelings – thus leading them further into a vicious cycle of substance abuse.

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Loneliness and substance abuse will exacerbate already present mental health disorders, such as generalised anxiety, major depression, bi-polar, obsessive-compulsive, and post-traumatic stress. As well as triggering these illnesses, some individuals self-medicate to try and “fix” the symptoms of these and other psychological conditions.

Any long term and excessive use of a substance can result in dependency and addiction. As with substance abuse, addiction drives feelings of loneliness, as addiction progresses individuals destroy relationships, lose jobs and hobbies, damage finances – causing further isolation – and the cycle continues.

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Addiction and mental health rehab clinic in Spain.

Are you dreading the Holidays? Are you struggling with feelings of loneliness? Are you using substances to try and “fix” symptoms of a mental health condition?

Here at our residential drug, alcohol, and addiction rehab centre in Ibiza we can help. We offer bespoke inpatient treatments for a variety of psychological conditions including alcoholism, drug, and process addiction (eating disorders, gambling, or codependency) as well as other mental health conditions such as trauma, anxiety, and depression.

For information on admissions to our Spanish rehab centre contact [email protected]


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