It can be overwhelming and leave you feeling lost. Coping with this loss and moving past it takes time for everyone, but when you are in recovery, this mourning period can be dangerous for your sobriety.
The Challenges of Grief and Loss in Addiction Recovery
Grief is a powerful human emotion that can have devastating effects on a person’s mental and physical health. It can be so overwhelming that many people struggle to cope with their emotions effectively. Instead of finding healthy outlets to deal with the pain, some people will turn to drugs or alcohol for solace. Alcohol abuse, in particular, can be common. When this pattern becomes routine, the body may become dependent on the substance and an addiction can occur.
While grief can be a large contributing factor to the development of a substance abuse disorder, it can also be a setback for people in recovery. For someone who already went to a drug or alcohol treatment center and are already sober, grief provides a challenge. If they had relied on drugs or alcohol previously to cope with their poor mental health, then grief can provide a strong temptation to fall back into these bad habits. Even if their substance abuse was not strongly connected to their mental health, many people may still turn to drugs and alcohol to numb the pain during times of loss. One study even found that after detox and rehab, people who are depressed experienced significantly higher alcohol cravings than their peers who don’t suffer from depression.1 These strong craving and triggers make the risk of relapse high for individuals dealing with death in sobriety.
Coping with Grief & Loss in Recovery
If you already went through inpatient or outpatient addiction treatment, the last thing you want to do is fall back into addiction and have to do it all over again. Unfortunately, dealing with grief and loss in recovery can be difficult, but there are some ways to help cope to keep your sobriety intact.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
If you never let yourself grieve, you will never be able to move past these emotions. Bottling your emotions up and trying to ignore them may make it feel like you are holding yourself together, but as soon as your emotions become too much, you could relapse at any time.
Find Extra Support
While it may be tempting to close yourself off from the world completely, now more than ever you need support. Reach out to friends and family, even if it can only be over the phone. Stay connected with your sponsor. Attend extra recovery meetings. Find a grief support group. Not only can this added support help you work through your grief, but these people can also keep you accountable and help you stay on track for your sobriety.
Be Active in Your Recovery
Your grief may seem overwhelming, but it is important that you still take care of yourself and your sobriety at this time. Continue to attend meetings regularly. Practice the coping methods you learned from rehab therapies. Keep a healthy routine like you were taught. If you neglect to stay active in your sobriety, a relapse could send you down a self-destructive downward spiral that will make everything even worse.
Find Purpose or Meaning
Grief can make some people question their purpose or cause them to have thoughts like, “What is the point?” Especially for people dealing with grief and loss in recovery who may have already been struggling to find purpose in their lives, grief can make these feeling worse. Some people are able to combat these feeling by relying on their faith. They may become more active with their church or pray frequently. Other people may find purpose with a new hobby or through volunteering. Once you are able to find purpose again, you will be more easily able to move past your grief.
Get Professional Help
The only way you are going to be able to stay sober is if you can move past your grief. If you find yourself struggling, it may be time to get professional help. Find a grief counselor or therapist who is trained to help you through this difficult time. If you do relapse, get addiction help immediately. Our stabilization program, for example, is a relapse recovery program in Boston that helps people who have relapsed get their sobriety back on track.
Addiction recovery is a long and trying journey, but you shouldn’t have to go through it alone. At our Massachusetts substance abuse treatment center, we help our patients prepare for life outside of treatment and how to deal with drug triggers. Our goal is to be there for you every step of the way, including after your treatment is complete.
If you want to learn more about us at Banyan Massachusetts, call 888-280-4763 today.
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Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.