How Isolation Fuels Opioid Addiction

How Isolation Fuels Opioid Addiction

Humans are social creatures, we thrive on connection. So much so that connection itself has been labeled the opposite of addiction. Naturally, isolation then becomes detrimental to recovery and an accelerator of the progression of an addict’s obsession.

But how are opioids and isolation related? Let’s explore!

Isolation and Addiction 

One doesn’t have to look too far to appreciate the link between addiction and connection. Drugs like MDMA, alcohol, marijuana, heroin, and cocaine create feelings of bonding in users which helps them connect with each other.

In fact, drugs like MDMA are being studied to be used as treatments for mental health such as couples therapy. 

A great example of this is the claims made by many alcohol abusers when it comes to needing a drink to be social. In fact, socializing after recovering from addiction could be one of the most challenging behavioral changes a recovering addict needs to adapt to.

Isolation is a developing problem in American society that has been expanding in parallel with addiction. Research shows that the size of our social networks is decreasing and with that the number of people in which we can trust and confide. 

At the same time, addiction and overdoses have also seen a significant increase, particularly when it comes to opioids.

In recent history, we can examine the effects of the pandemic lockdowns in America and their link to addiction. 

Overdoses have increased sharply since the onset of COVID-19, which could probably be related to the periods of isolation we’ve had to collectively experience during lockdowns.

But is there scientific evidence connecting opioids and isolation? Indeed, there is, and it goes much farther back than you might assume.

How a Rat Paradise Changed the Way We See Addiction

The link between opioids and isolation has been long documented by medical scholars.

In the 1970s scientists carried out the Rat Park studies, a series of experiments that examined the link between addiction and connection by self-administering morphine.

In short, the experiment demonstrated that isolated rats were prone to addiction and overdose. Whereas the rats who were in a large housing colony and with enough space for play and mating appeared to be less interested in the morphine water.

Unfortunately, scientists originally interpreted housing as the primary cause for addiction and not connection. However, new interpretations point now toward the latter.

How Isolation Fuels Opioid Addiction 

As it was demonstrated by the Rat Park studies, opioid addiction, and isolation are closely related. But the scientific evidence that we now have extends beyond the walls of Rat Park.

There is evidence to show that the endogenous opioid system contributes significantly to the formation and maintenance of social bonds. 

Furthermore, there is also evidence to show that some of the neurological pathways affected by opioid addiction overlap with each other. Thus strengthening the link between opioids and isolation.

In other words, the same areas in our brain that are associated with social bonding are also closely related to opioid addiction. Thus, showing a physiological link between one and the other.

Connection and Recovery

If isolation and addiction are related, then it would also make sense that recovery and connection are also closely linked to each other. That connection can be observed in the success of 12-step programs and group therapy. 

These methods of recovery are established on connection. Addicts get to connect with each other by sharing mutual experiences, bonding, and sponsorship, which helps them build connections and get sober.

Understanding the link between addiction and connection could single handedly help make a shift in a recovering addict’s psychology and make a shift for the better.

Connection in Rehab

One of the main advantages of joining a rehab for recovery is the connections that addicts are able to foster early on their journey. Many rehabs offer therapy treatments that focus on connection and bond building.

Veritas Detox is a rehab where we value the significance of connection.

It’s time to stop isolating yourself.

Contact us today and find out how we can extend a lending hand.