The Benefits of Being Social for the Introverted Addict
To be an introvert means to be misunderstood. Most people are extroverted and don’t understand why some people are quiet, take time to think before they speak, and often prefer a good read to a conversation. To extroverts, these people seem shy, reserved, and maybe even snobbish. If you are an introvert who also happens to be struggling with addiction, you may be misunderstood to the extreme. While there is nothing wrong with being introverted, it is simply how you are wired, there are some real benefits to breaking away from your typical behaviors and adding more social components to your life in order to overcome an addiction.
To be an Introvert
Extroverts are people who talk a lot, prefer company to being alone, and thrive in social settings. Introverts on the other hand, who are fewer in number, are quiet, often prefer to be alone, are reflective, and when socializing, prefer to do so one on one or in small groups. If you are an introvert, you may prefer a good book to a party, you probably think things through before you say something, and you are likely assumed by others to be shy and stand offish.
If you are an introvert and an addict looking towards recovery, your inward-looking tendencies can both harm and help you. As an introvert, you take the time to reflect and consider your actions carefully. This can be great when you are trying to stay sober. However, your preference for spending time alone can really hurt your efforts. Although you need not attempt to transform yourself from an introvert to an extrovert to advance your recover, becoming more social and reaching out to others can make a world of difference.
How Extroversion can help you
Don’t force yourself to be an extrovert, but learn from these social creatures and use their strategies to keep yourself clean and sober. The support of others cannot be understated as an aid to recovery.
- Socializing safely. Because you are an introvert, you probably are uncomfortable in large group settings. This may even have led to or at least contributed to your substance abuse. It is very common for shy or introverted people to use in social situations because it makes them feel more comfortable. Putting yourself in that situation when you are already tempted by thoughts of relapsing can be very harmful. If you join up with a support group, however, you have the chance to socialize with people who understand you. In this safe setting, you are not able to slip up.
- Share and empathize. When you attempt to recover from your addiction alone or with minimal social contact, you are making it harder. You lose out on the chance to share experiences with others. It can be tremendously helpful to hear from other addicts because it reminds you that you are not alone and that there are others who understand you and are ready to support you.
- Learn and practice new social skills. If your introversion led you to use substances, kept you using, or both, you could probably benefit from learning new ways to interact with people. By socializing with others, both those in recovery and those who are not but understand your situation, you have the opportunity to observe healthy and normal interactions with others that do not involve substance abuse. As an introvert, you are good at this part: quietly watching others to see what they do. Just be sure to jump in and try it out for yourself. Practicing new ways to socialize with others can help you to resist the temptation to use in the future.
- Help others to help yourself. Once you are firmly in your recovery phase, you can be of great service to others, especially those who are introverts. Socialize with newly recovering addicts and help them by listening and sharing your own story of struggle and the ways you have learned to cope with addiction and temptation. If you see another introvert struggling to get involved in your support group, lend a hand and have a one on one conversation. Your personal experiences can really help this new addict feel welcome and comfortable.