Alienating yourself, in the broad sense of the term, implies isolating yourself from the rest of the society. There are many reasons to reject your peers, including the inability to communicate properly, a self-centered mindset, insecurity, rebelliousness, intolerance, you name it.
Alcoholism and Alienation
Recovering alcoholics are prone to alienation, especially in the late part of the rehab treatment and during the transition from the facility to the real world. In part, this predisposition is directly linked to the addictive personality type.
However, undergoing rehabilitation therapy also makes them believe they are profoundly different from other people due to their problems with alcohol. Moreover, a recovering alcoholic often feels rejected by society which, more often than not, tends to alter the general perception of him/her. Many people feel uncomfortable in the presence of a former alcoholic because they don’t know what constitutes acceptable behavior and what doesn’t.
Is it All Society’s Fault Then?
Not exactly. You see, recovering addicts maintain some of the maladaptive coping strategies and negative mindsets even after becoming sober. For example, recovering addicts might believe that their case is unique and exceptional, so they refuse to participate in support groups, “alienating” themselves from the people who could actually understand their problems best.
Alternatively, they become insecure due to the addiction, which lowers their self esteem up to the point where they can no longer interact normally with others. Or, for instance, they perceive isolation as a form of rebellion against a society with a different set of values of which they want no part. Whatever the reason, one thing is important to remember: isolation in recovery is very dangerous.
But What if You Just Want to be Left Alone?
Truth be told, everybody wants to be alone sometimes, but you have to learn when to draw the line between “me time” and isolation. Alienation from family and friends brings along an unbearable loneliness, which bears the signs of depression. As you probably know already, depression and negativity constitute some of the most important relapse triggers.
Another reason why alienation is considered harmful for the recovering alcoholic’s psyche is that over time, the barrier he/she erects between self and society grows, to the point where he/she is no longer able to have meaningful relationships with other people. The more out of touch you get, the harder it is to get back in the game.
In addition to that, keep in mind that support groups provide invaluable help for addicts who strive not to return to their former lifestyle. These groups are comprised of people who share your problems and frustrations, but also your hopes and your dreams. If you no longer feel comfortable among your former friends, then perhaps you have to relearn human interactions slowly, step by step, within the haven of a support group.
While initially the transition from rehab to the real world appears confusing and unfamiliar, keep in mind that you just have to readjust. If you reject the people around you and shield yourself from everyone who’s just trying to lend a helping hand, you will eventually alienate yourself and become unable to adapt.