Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Study: Loneliness Growing Threat to Public Health

Loneliness and social isolation may be a greater threat to your health than obesity, according to research presented at the 125th annual convention of the American Psychological Association. What’s more, researchers found that people with a greater social connection cut their risk of premature death in half. 

"Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need — crucial to both well-being and survival,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, PhD, professor of psychology at Brigham Young University, in a statement. "Yet an increasing portion of the U.S. population now experiences isolation regularly." 

According to the most recent U.S. census data, more than a quarter of the population lives alone, more than half is unmarried, and the number of children per household has declined. Heavy use of social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram has also been linked to feelings of social isolation.

"These trends suggest that Americans are becoming less socially connected and experiencing more loneliness," said Holt-Lunstad.

How Loneliness Harms Your Recovery
This isn’t the first study to show the dangers of being lonely. In fact, one previous study cited loneliness as being as bad for your health as 15 cigarettes per day. And those of us in the addiction community know the dangers all too well: Loneliness is a common relapse trigger. It may even have contributed to your addiction in the first place. 

Loneliness goes beyond feeling alone; it’s feeling alone, misunderstood, and uncared for even when loved ones are there to support you. The good news: You can do your part to prevent loneliness from harming your health and your sobriety.
  • Go to a 12-step meeting. There’s nothing like meeting others who have been in your shoes to remind you that you’re not alone and that staying sober is worth the work.
  • Vow to volunteer: We promise you’ll get back as much (if not more) than you give. That’s because you’ll get out into the community, meet positive people and make a difference. 
  • Find a hobby. We’ve talked about the many health benefits of hobbies — and you can add combating loneliness to the list. The right hobby can help you make new friends and give you something to be passionate about – something that you want to share and talk about with others. 
  • Make time for friends and family. Carve out time to spend with your loved ones, whether a weekly dinner or morning walk. And remember: This is perhaps most important on those down days where your natural instinct may be to retreat into isolation.  
Consider HAUS Mentoring
Another way to remain connected to the recovery community and combat loneliness is to take advantage of our recovery mentoring services. We’ll ensure that you have a wonderful support team to help you as you transition from treatment to “normal life.” To learn more, call today: 888-551-4715.

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