The Reality Of Grief And Loss In Addiction Recovery

Everyone experiences sadness and sorrow during their lifetime. Substance abusers are dealing with grief and loss in addiction recovery that is complicated by their disease. Losses experienced by addicts can be a death, a broken relationship, the loss of a job, or those things associated with their addiction. Grief and loss play a strong role in the beginning stages of recovery, and this is not always understood by the addict and his or her family. The staff at White Sands Addiction Treatment Center provides strong support for recovering addicts, including inpatient therapy.

Dealing With Grief And Loss In Addiction Recovery

Grief and loss are not only related to the death of a loved one or other common situations when it comes to addiction recovery. The addict is “losing” his or her lifestyle, the euphoria the drug provides, the behavior its use permits, his or her substance abuse companions, and an easy way to disconnect from the world and its responsibilities. Once the buffer between the world and the addict is gone, he or she is dealing with grief and loss in addiction recovery. Social connections are severed, daily rituals are gone, and the addict finds he or she must now accept responsibility for their actions as well as make and keep commitments. Without professional help and therapy, dealing with grief and loss in addiction recovery can result in relapse.

Coping With Grief In Sobriety

There are stages of grief, and although suffering is an individual experience, there are five patterns that emerge in all grieving. The person coping with grief in sobriety will go through each stage. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified the following five stages of grief:

  • Denial – Denial is a self-defense tool allowing the individual to block out the responsibility for, and consequences of, their actions.
  • Anger – Anger averts attention away from the person’s addiction. They may direct it at family, friends, God, or even him- or herself.
  • Bargaining – When the addict realizes there is a substance abuse problem, he or she will make promises to stop if given another chance. Bargaining is the ploy used to avoid making changes.
  • Depression – As the addict realizes the seriousness of his or her situation, and the hurt caused to others, feelings of sadness, shame, and even fear spiral into depression.
  • Acceptance – When the addict realizes recovery is possible, he or she visits with a professional support team to make arrangements for detox and therapy.

Dealing With Death In Sobriety

People deal with death and grief in different ways, but a recovering addict has the added risk of relapse. He or she may fall into a small percentage of people that experience Complex Bereavement Disorder (CBG), which complicates the situation even more. CBG includes symptoms such as depression and preoccupation with the loss, resulting in irritability depression, agitation, social withdrawal, and the feeling life has no more value. Even without the complications of CBG, these symptoms can continue for months, and for the recovering addict, dealing with death in sobriety can easily result in relapse from any one of these issues. Without a strong support group (including family), ongoing therapy, and emotional counseling, the recovering addict faces the risk of relapse when dealing with death in sobriety. White Sands Addiction Treatment Center offers counseling and therapy that will help the recovering addict through the turmoil of grieving with the goal of relapse prevention.

If you are a recovering addict or someone you love is, get them help as they deal with grief and loss during a risky time when relapse can happen easily. White Sands Addiction Treatment Center is ready to help you or a loved one with recovery and relapse prevention.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

is a proud alumni member of WhiteSands Treatment. After living a life of chaos, destruction and constant let downs, Mark was able to make a complete turnaround that sparked a new way of life. He is serious about his recovery along with helping others. At WhiteSands Treatment, we offer support to you in your homes or when you are out living in your daily lives.