Skip to content
Need some Easter Sermon inspiration? Check out our Easter Sermon Collection Learn more
Go back

Celebrate Recovery

Loneliness and Addiction: A Celebrate Recovery Story

Loneliness and Addiction

I am a grateful follower of Jesus Christ, and I struggle with alcohol and addiction. My name is Ken.

The holiday season is upon us. Supposedly, this is a time of celebration. This time of gathering with friends and relatives would seem to be the perfect opportunity to not be alone or feel lonely. However, the holidays were usually the time of year when I felt most alone.

As a child I felt excitement and anticipated traveling to see my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I was born in Boston and most of my mom’s family lived nearby. I have such great memories of my great-grandmother speaking Polish and giving us ginger ale, and being surrounded by my grandmother’s big family. We always went to midnight service, and I loved staying up late on Christmas Eve. The holidays at Grandma’s were loud and lively. There was always plenty of food. The delicious smells emanating from my grandma’s kitchen are some of my favorite memories. Even as I write this, I am thinking about her homemade fudge and bread.

We moved to Texas when I was 6, and Christmas at Grandma’s became a past event. Holidays at our home weren’t the same. We didn’t have the picture-perfect home. While we still celebrated the holidays, they weren’t as festive. My mom and dad always seemed stressed around the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas became just something you did, as opposed to a celebration. My expectations for the holidays dwindled. As I got older I discovered new ways to celebrate. After I began to drink, parties took on a whole new meaning. Alcohol became my holiday celebration for many years.

I started recovery at the age of 27. What happened? It was the day before Thanksgiving. I attempted suicide. I felt so alone. I had turned my back on God. I had wasted so many holidays during the years of my drinking and using that I felt alone, even when I was in a crowd. After being released from the hospital, I began attending meetings.

Over the past 21 years in recovery I have learned how to recognize and prevent loneliness. In Matthew 28:20, I learned that Jesus made this declaration: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (NIV). This constantly reminds me that during the times I feel lonely, I am never alone.

With this newfound understanding that God never leaves or abandons me, I began learning from some incredible friends in recovery. I learned that some of my loneliness came from my expectations that others would do things for me. I expected others to reach out to me when I was unwilling to reach out to them. As a good friend often said, “Expectations are just resentments under construction.” Once others did not meet my expectations, I would get angry with them and quit having anything to do with them. This was a pattern I would have to change.

One of the first ways I learned to prevent loneliness was asking God to help me see how I could add to an activity rather than take from it. This was a turning point. When I started caring more about others than myself, I became less selfish and more selfless — not so much putting others’ needs in front of my own but just caring more about others’ needs. I was amazed how much easier it was to have friends when I wasn’t using them. I know this all seems simple, but Christ tells us to “love others as we love ourselves.”

Early in recovery I tripped over these simple teachings all the time. I would often return to old behaviors, such as withdrawing. My sponsor told me this was a guaranteed way to feel lonely and be alone. So he taught me a simple tool that works for my recovery as an easy solution to loneliness. It requires focusing on the two INs and two ONs of healthy recovery and loneliness prevention. Every day (1) spend time IN the Word and (2) spend time IN a meeting. Every day (1) spend time ON your knees and (2) spend time ON the phone. When I do these four things every day, I don’t feel lonely, even during the holidays. If you are lonely, come see us at Celebrate Recovery.

Merry Christmas.

Related Posts

Subscribe to Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox

Weekly Email for Pastors and Church Leaders

    We care about your data. Read our privacy policy.

    Pastor Rick Warren smiling