Grief and Loss in Addiction and Recovery

grief theory at white sands treatment centers
Grief is a term often used to describe the emotional reaction to a negative disruption in life. Loss of a loved one and the grief that ensues is for many, the trigger that leads into various forms of addiction. Grief is a natural and healthy response to loss. The death of a loved one, the breakup of a marriage, a long standing friendship or the loss of a job can plunge, even mentally stable individuals into a period of painful emotional suffering. The finality of death is however, the loss people struggle with the most. Emotions run the gamut from sadness, anger to sometimes feeling helpless and hopeless.

Many people deal with grief differently and though grief doesn’t directly cause an addiction, some individuals may develop an addiction as a result of trying to dull emotional pain. In addition, coping with the change in lifestyle from a loss can be very traumatic or difficult to get used to. The nature of grief and loss combined with the stigma of addiction can create a very hostile environment that is lonely and difficult to rebuild from. White Sands Treatment Center offers grief and loss counseling programs specifically for addicted individuals who have suffered losses in life and feel emotional pain. Everyone reacts differently to a loss and displays their grief in a different manner. White Sands offers a variety of programs in order to help all patients uncover where their grief stems from and what programs are more inclined to help them recover from their loss. A chemically dependent individual may seek treatment to rehabilitate from a drug abuse disorder but if without proper treatment for their emotional pain continuous relapse will occur. Call White Sands Treatment Center today for more information about our Grief and Loss Addiction Therapies.

We live in a culture where individuals are more inclined to hide their feelings due to fear of disapproval rather than one where people are comfortable openly working through their problems. Many of the struggles that arise during any recovery whether it be alcohol, drug, or trauma, come from the difficulty of expressing feelings and asking for help. In group therapy settings patients are given a safe place to grieve and share their experiences of grief with others who have been in similar situations. One of the goals of the therapy is to help the addicts become comfortable with opening up and expressing their emotions in healthy ways.

Due to the fact that grief and cravings both share similarities in how they strike a person unexpectedly and can be impossible to control, the coping mechanisms used for management are also similar. Behavior modification is a technique used in both the therapy for grief and loss as well in relapse prevention programs. Learning personal triggers for grief enables preparation for them which can ultimately help prevent a relapse and instead prompt the addict to seek support.

Grief and Loss Group Meetings

These highly charged emotions, if left uncheck, can result in mental and physical ailments. Grief and loss group meetings help participants to cope with the range of emotions inherent in the grieving process such as…

  • Shock or unbelief that the loss has occurred
  • Emotional numbness or the inability to connect with feelings
  • Confusion and bewilderment; not sure what to do or how to process the pain
  • Vivid Dreams about the loved one
  • Extreme feelings of despair and hopelessness
  • Overwhelming sadness at times leading to uncontrollable crying
  • Lack of interest in life or the inability to enjoy once pleasurable experiences
  • Restlessness or unexplained anxiety
  • Resistance to memories or overindulgence in memories.
  • Anger
  • Blaming oneself for the loss
  • Unable to concentrate on the routines of life such as work, hygiene, diet, etc.

Grief that does not get resolved can be a major cause of depression which is often a precursor to drug or alcohol addiction. A classic bereavement study conducted by Dr. Paula Clayton highlighted the fact that depressive symptoms frequently present early in the grieving process and can last for months after the death of a loved on. This study revealed that sadness, crying, insomnia, social withdrawal, decreased appetite are all aspects of the grieving process. When these symptoms persist, people are said to be stuck and may benefit from participating in a grief and loss group meeting or through individual grief therapy.

Grief and Loss meetings assist with the process of coming to grips with the loss in general. Counselors who facilitate these meetings are also trained to recognize when more in-depth psychological assistance is necessary to avoid self-destructive behavior. These meetings provide an open forum that facilitate interaction with others going through similar pain and suffering. Mutual support, and coping skills training make it possible for participants to understand that grief takes place in stages. Awareness and a keen understanding of these stages help many people to accept their loss and implement effective methods of facing life in a healthy and balanced way.

Prolonged grief can lead to depression and drug or alcohol abuse. If you or a loved one need counseling to deal with the loss of a loved one, grief and loss group therapy may be helpful to you. Call White Sands Treatment Center to find out how our grief and loss addiction counselors can help you. (877)855-3470