An article by James S. House PhD in the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, dated 2001, entitled Social Isolation Kills – But How and Why, is a much quoted article that provides an overview of social isolation as being detrimental to health and happiness.
Alcohol as a factor in social isolation can be both a cause, and an intended remedy for the negative impact of social isolation on emotional feelings, physical and mental health.
There is no doubt that people are by nature social and need relationship. People need an amount of social contact and stimulation that is appropriate to their particular personality and style.
There are many ways, in the modern world in which beneficial social contact can be compromised, ranging from inadequate nurturing of the infant, to elderly people living alone who lack physical mobility to get out and about as they used to.
Social isolation can also arise as a result of social inhibition, a lack of social competence and confidence, a lack of self esteem, and situational factors such as loss of employment, physical injury or chronic illness.
A study in Finland, published September 2011, examined the relationship between alcohol related harm, and death among people living alone, and found that people in Finland, living alone were at increased risk of alcohol abuse and alcohol related death.
This study also implicated a reduction in the price of alcohol,due to new laws that were introduced in Finland in early 2004, as being a factor in the increased use of alcohol by people who were socially isolated, particularly in the first three months after alcohol prices were decreased.
Studies such as this one from Finland tend to give support to the Canadian approach to alcohol pricing, that requires minimum pricing for alcohol drinks, and does not encourage promotions of alcohol such as “happy hours” that rely on discounted prices to increase alcohol sales.
Alcohol at low levels promotes feelings of confidence and relaxation. The issue with those who propose alcohol as being a positive social benefit is that as with all drugs, the feelings created by alcohol use are artificial and do not actually enhance the social abilities of the individual who uses alcohol as a confidence booster. An ability to act appropriately in social situations is best developed by programs designed to genuinely enhance relational skills, for a person to become more extroverted and to take a genuine interest in people and what is going on in the world.
With alcohol use, for emotional difficulties, and feelings of social insecurity there is always the risk that alcohol drinking can become a total solution. In such cases, alcohol promotes increased withdrawal and lack of social interaction, the individual seeking solace in the bottle.
The connection between increased dependence on alcohol and other drugs in adulthood as relating back to trauma and abuse during the formative years is that early trauma and abuse inhibits the capacity of a person to develop outgoing attitudes and confidence in areas of social and personal development. People who have failed to fully develop the competencies and skills needed for social interaction tend to lack self esteem and to suffer from anxiety and depression.
Depression is a factor in diminished good health, when people are chronically depressed they lack motivation, and tend not to attend to nutrition and self care needs. Alcohol abuse is associated with chronic depression or anxiety. Whilst alcohol will moderate feelings, so that a person feels less anxious, depressed or alone, the effects of alcohol as a chemical substance have a damaging effect on the body, particularly affecting good nutrition and the immune system.
Society today is structured in many ways that cause and contribute to social isolation, the elderly in particular are very much dependent upon outside assistance and support to ensure that they can continue to participate in social interaction within the family and the community.
Alcohol drinking can become a trap and a substitute for better options when a person sees their social isolation as an obstacle that they cannot overcome.
People who suffer from alcoholism tend to become more socially withdrawn, and unresponsive to opportunities for better interaction. Alcohol drinking has a depressive effect on motivation, and can intensify existing issues of depression.
People with problems of alcoholism, who choose comprehensive alcohol rehab will find that most of the comprehensive method to achieve complete alcohol addiction recovery is focused upon teaching a person with alcohol problems to become less socially isolated, and to come out of their shell.
Comprehensive alcohol addiction recovery programs are based on drug free abstinence from alcohol drinking, together with a detailed program of coursework that encourages a person to become more self confident and outgoing.
If people feel optimistic and positive with regards to their social competency, they can take on confidently the challenge of unemployment, illness or injury as tending to cause isolation.
People are never too young or too old to benefit from getting help to overcome alcohol dependence and alcoholism.
People using alcohol today, who feel that their alcohol use is standing in the way of them having better social relationships, and a happier life, can get the help that they need from comprehensive alcohol rehab programs.