By Dr Bunmi Aboaba, The Sober Advantage
Loneliness is on the increase and it can affect a diverse range of people. Studies show that more women tend to report feeling lonely, compared to men. But that could be because men are frequently told to ’suck it up’.
Loneliness and alcohol have the potential to go hand in hand – but which comes first? Does one trigger the other?
It depends on an individual’s circumstances. Some people drink because they’re lonely or bored...and some people are lonely because they’ve become alienated through drink.
Loneliness is a big deal because socialising is a basic human need.
We need to form bonds with others in order to lead a happy and full life. Friends are there to help celebrate the good times and get us through the bad times!
Why is loneliness and drinking on the increase?
One of the favourite theories is the increased frequent use of social media. People don’t need to call one another for a catch up...or even meet up. And social media creates a bubble. We often surround ourselves with people who lead similar lifestyles and have the same political views. This means we’re not exposed to a wider world and remain narrow-minded.
Then there are the memes about alcohol: The mocking inspirational quotes saying, “you can’t buy happiness, but you can buy wine and that’s the same kind of thing” and “shut up liver, you’re fine.”
I know they mean no harm…but they are harmful. For example, they normalise the ‘wine o clock’ culture among mums. It isn’t normal to down a bottle or two of wine every night, but those with alcohol issues may feel like these posts validate their drinking habits.
People tend to post a filtered, positive version of their lives on social media, but you never know what’s going on behind closed doors. There’s rarely any vulnerability on social media...because people see it as a weakness (it isn’t).
This can ramp up ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) in some people. You might see someone partying all the time, drinking champers in a club and generally living the high life. This can cause people to feel incredibly lonely as they believe their life doesn’t match up to that.
Instead, seek out the positive communities online including the Club Soda Facebook Group and Soberistas. Start using social media for good – not to beat yourself up, or validate behaviour that you know, deep down, probably isn’t good for you.
Alcohol can be used as a self-harm method. People may feel they’re not worthy of having any friends or feel like no one likes them and that people think they’re a bad person. So, they stay away from people and drink because it’s a case of a “that’s what I deserve” mentality.
This concoction of low self-esteem, feeling worthless and lonely can spur someone on to drink more as an emotional pain reliever, as well as a way to chastise oneself.
A bottle of wine in the supermarket costs around £5 – not much more than a single glass in a bar or restaurant; it’s much more affordable to drink at home - which can encourage some people to drink alone behind closed doors on a regular basis.
Loneliness and boredom
Being lonely can often come with being bored. Some may choose to drink for something to do and to alleviate negative thoughts for a while. But it can come with emotional and physical price-tags such as lack of energy, hangovers, depression, anxiety and more.
Beat loneliness, beat the bottle
Identify your triggers. These can be anything from seeing a certain person’s social media posts to being left out of a social event.
Now write down your motivations. Why do you want to overcome your issues with alcohol?
Create a plan of action:
- Realise that alcohol is a one-sided friendship
- Disconnect from any people that contribute towards your feelings of loneliness and urge to drink
- Apologise and try to make amends with those you may have alienated through drink
- Take an evening class or try a new activity. This is where you’ll meet new friends
- Focus on you: Build your own self-confidence and learn to love yourself.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr Bunmi Aboaba a Sobriety Companion and Coach and founder of the Sober Advantage. Bunmi is dedicated to helping professionals overcome drinking problems. Her combination of holistic therapies is used to prepare a bespoke plan designed to fit around busy schedules. Bunmi helps people battling a variety of addictions to get control of their lives and beat their addiction – for good. Bunmi uses a variety of techniques to help her clients, all of which she has used herself to help her gain her sobriety and remain sober for 10 years. See: www.thesoberadvantage.com and https://www.linkedin.com/in/bunmiaboaba/
Tagged in Alcohol