Grief Therapy for Addiction: How to Cope with the Loss of Addiction

June 18, 2021

People who have experienced loss in their lives feel different waves of grief. This is the natural reaction of humans to difficult life circumstances such as a death of a loved one, a loss of possession, or a relationship breakup.

Unbeknownst to some, grief could also be stimulated when someone loses a certain way of living. For instance, people undergoing substance abuse treatment may experience grief during their recovery from addiction. They may feel intense emotions as they give up their addictive behavior, which is their primary coping mechanism.

If not taken care of, grief could develop into a psychological problem with many risks and could trigger a relapse. Practicing healthy habits while getting professional support can help patients go through the grieving process.


What is Grief Therapy for Addiction?

The pain of losing something or someone can be overwhelming. Some people grieve their losses without experiencing major changes in their daily lives. However, when it becomes too overwhelming or prolonged, grief can interfere with a person’s ability to care for themselves or function normally. When this happens, grief therapy in Tucson and other areas can be beneficial.

Unresolved grief combined with a history of substance abuse can paralyze a person’s emotional life and lead to depression. To address this, people must connect with and express their emotions, find meaning in their experiences, and get the right treatment program to heal from their losses.

Grief therapy for addiction enables patients to process their feelings with a professional therapist. Therapists determine unhealthy patterns of behavior and provide them with proper guidance on how to deal with loss and grief.


What is the Connection Between Loss and Alcohol Abuse?

Grief can occur after a significant loss, and this may cause several direct and indirect negative health repercussions. If the person is unable to bear a loss or does not have a proper support system to help manage their grief, they may resort to external substances to alleviate the pain. This increases the risk of developing an addiction to drugs, alcohol, and other unhealthy habits.

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Although there is no single right way to deal with loss, using drugs and alcohol can only intensify grief and delay the healing process. Proper coping mechanisms, on the other hand, have the opposite effect. Grief and loss therapy can help people practice healthy ways of sorting through their uncomfortable feelings, allowing them to restore their life completely.


What the Addict Loses in Giving Up Addiction

Despite the destruction and trauma brought about by a drug dependent’s addictive behavior, it’s normal for them to miss taking drugs. They still look for the thing that used to distract and relax them. The “easy way out” offered by substances can be difficult to refuse, especially when they become overwhelmed.

What are the things that drug-dependent people lose once they decide to get into a substance abuse treatment? Here are some of them:


They will have to let go of the rituals associated with their acting-out behaviors. The places, patterns, and hidden activities of their substance or behavior addiction have become as ingrained in their lives as a job or a home, and changing them can be hard.


They will lose the relationships they have built and maintained while they were still using substances. For some people, entire social groups and “fun” activities must be avoided to prevent relapsing into addiction.


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Living a life with substances entails avoiding responsibility and accountability to people and activities that may obstruct their freedom from continuing self-destructing habits. Meanwhile, a person in recovery has to be accountable, must make important decisions, and meet all commitments and duties handed to them.


Stages of Grieving

The Kübler-Ross model is the most common template that describes the stages of grief. This model applies to various types of loss, including the loss of addiction.


To protect their relationship with drugs, individuals deny the nature of that relationship to other people and themselves. They do not acknowledge the fact that drugs harm them or cause them to hurt other people. They go to great lengths to reduce and hide their use, sometimes getting agitated whenever someone expresses concern.


The person feels anger once they finally realize that they are in a damaging relationship with drugs and they can’t control their usage. That anger may be targeted at the drug, the consequences of addiction, the people asking them to get sober, and to themselves.


At this stage, the person attempts to maintain control and continue life without making any changes. They bargain with themselves to see if there’s any way to modify it. Maybe they could just limit their drinks. Maybe they could go to the party without taking drugs. For some, this period comes before treatment, while for others, it comes after, as they believe the treatment has given them control over their use.


During the depressive stage, the person begins to look at the reality of their current situation. The loss now feels more real and unavoidable. In these moments, they don’t assign the blame to somebody else or try to find a way out. They sink into sadness, and often find themselves less sociable. They may feel regret over their addiction and sadness for the life they could have had without the drugs.


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At this point, the person sees the path laid out for their recovery. They begin to look forward to the future where they live free from addiction. Isolation gets replaced with healthy relationships and support. The individual is sober enough to manage life circumstances thrown at them.


Types of Grief Therapy Techniques

Grief counselors can provide the following grief therapy techniques to their patients:

  • Give them a safe space to talk about the grief they’re feeling due to loss.
  • Determine if it’s grief or trauma they’re going through. If the client is having problems getting an image out of their mind or having flashbacks to the moment they experienced the loss, they may be facing trauma, which could hinder them from managing their grief.
  • Help them in coping with any guilt they are feeling. The patient may feel guilty about what they did or didn’t do. Therapists can encourage them to let go of their guilt and live a more fulfilling life.


Grief Therapy in Arizona

If you reach a point where your grief is making you feel unstable or trigger you to relapse, it is the time to reach out for professional help. Getting the necessary support will not only provide relief but also protect and maintain your recovery.

Buena Vista Health and Recovery Center offers substance abuse therapy programs in Chandler and other addiction treatment in Arizona to help you heal and recover from your addiction. Our professional and compassionate staff can help you overcome the pain you’re feeling today. To begin your treatment, contact us at (800) 922-0095 or visit our facilities.

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