Many people start out using drugs recreationally in social situations with friends and acquaintances. Gradually, as one becomes “Drug Dependent” drug use becomes more isolating as the user seeks out only a few select people to do drugs with. Once addicted, drugs are often done in solitary situations. Users find themselves alone with their drugs. Drug use is their “little secret” that must concealed until they reach a breaking point or an “epiphany” so to speak. This can make the battle to overcome addiction difficult.
This epiphany is the internal driving force that begs the addict to seek external help. He realizes that he can’t do this alone and needs the help from someone – someone to connect to, someone on the outside. Some even believe that the opposite of addiction is connection.
A study examining sociality vs. addiction
A study in the 1970s by Bruce Alexander, Ph.D. and colleagues questioned the role that social environment played on one’s desire and inclination towards using drugs. Using rats, he observed that rats that were placed in a secluded environment, caged, and psychologically abused, were more likely to try available morphine. On the contrary, rats that were placed in a social, happy environment or what the experimenters deemed a “reasonably traditional setting” easily resisted the available morphine. Alexander concluded that drugs only become irresistible when the opportunity for normal social existence is destroyed.
Although the media was thrilled about Alexander’s findings, some addiction experts like Adi Jaffe Ph.D were skeptical. Jaffe felt that the Alexander’s experiment was an oversimplification and didn’t translate to human substance abuse. He writes, “So while I agree that social connection is very important for dealing with substance use problems … it also matters who we’re connecting to and that, unfortunately, is something we control only to a limited extent. We have to deal with the circumstances we are born into – dysfunctional marriages, depression, dietary limitations and gang violence – and sometimes substances are the solution, not the problem.”
Social Connection Helps Individuals Overcome Addiction and Achieve Real Results
Addiction is the final step in that downward spiral that may have begun innocently with a few recreational drugs. It may have started out as a fun “high” with friends. Some see addiction as a disease where the brain develops an “autopilot mode” and can’t simply be deactivated. Social connections, although important towards recovery, may not solve addiction alone. However, building right connections that yield effective solutions will bring about real results and help people overcome addiction.Back to Blog