Loneliness and alcohol issues – which comes first? Does one trigger the other? Some people drink because they’re lonely or bored… and some are lonely because they’ve become alienated through drink. We’ve called in Dr Bunmi Aboaba, a Sobriety Companion and Coach and founder of the Sober Advantage, to help us unravel the complexities of what is a worryingly common occurrence.
Dr Bunmi helps people overcome drinking problems, supporting them to gain control of their lives and beat their addiction – for good. She 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.
We asked Dr Bunmi to talk us through some of the issues and triggers around using alcohol to mask loneliness, and this is what she said…
What is loneliness?
Loneliness can take many forms:
- Feeling like you can’t connect with anyone physically or emotionally
- Feeling as if no one cares about you or likes you
- Feeling as if no one understands you
- Feeling left out or like you’re missing out
- Feeling hopeless and abandoned
Why is loneliness on the increase?
One theory is the increased frequent use of social media. People don’t need to call one another for a catch up… or even meet up often. A lot of people communicate primarily on social media sites.
Social media, memes & FOMO (fear of missing out)
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 thing” and “Shut up liver, you’re fine.”
They’re meant to be funny and they mean no harm… but they are harmful. For example, it normalizes the ‘wine o clock’ culture among mums, but those with alcohol issues may feel like these posts validate their drinking habits.
People tend to post a filtered version of their lives on social media. It may seem they have the perfect partner, perfect home, perfect children, perfect life.
This can ramp up ‘FOMO’ in some people. You might see someone seemingly partying all the time and generally living the high life. This can cause people to feel incredibly lonely, believing their life doesn’t match up.
Using online communities for good
There are so many positive communities online including the Club Soda Facebook Group and Soberistas (it even has its own chat facility!). Start using social media for good – not to beat yourself up, or validate behaviour that you know isn’t good for you.
Now to the alcohol itself. 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 of a “that’s what I deserve” mentality.
When a 175ml glass of wine can cost up to £4.93 in the UK and a bottle of wine in the supermarket costs around £5, it’s much more affordable to drink at home – which can encourage some people to drink alone on a regular basis.
Loneliness leads to boredom
Some may choose to drink for something to do and to alleviate boredom and 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
The plan of action:
- Realize that alcohol is a one-sided friendship that tries to take away the best of you
- Disconnect from people in your life that contribute towards your feelings of loneliness and urge you to drink (those people who constantly post alcohol memes or make you feel like you’re missing out).
- Make amends with those you may have alienated through drink: Apologize and salvage the friendship.
- Try new activities: 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.
For support and to find out more, visit: The Sober Advantage