Published On: September 9, 2022|Categories: Mental Health and Addiction, Recovery|

Going through addiction recovery is challenging enough on its own, so much so that having to handle grieving the loss of a loved one on top of it may feel all but impossible.

In many instances, the very substance you’re recovering from might have been the exact crutch you once used to get through difficult times like this. Something that invokes such intense emotions and can trigger

Today we’re going to be discussing the different ways that grief can affect your recovery process, as well as give you some of our most helpful tips for managing grief during this time.

Grief and addiction recovery

Dealing with death and grief in addiction recovery impacts everyone a little bit differently, but losing someone you love is often traumatic regardless. 

When someone you care deeply about leaves you, whether by choice, an accident or natural death, the pain can be overwhelming and all-consuming. 

When you’re actively going through recovery, though, this pain can feel crushing at best, and potentially trigger a relapse at worst. 

Feeling the impulse to escape the pain through drugs, alcohol, or any other self-destructive behaviors will really put your commitment to recovery and sobriety to the test.

Grieving a personal loss and recovering from a drug or alcohol addiction can be a dangerous combination, one that has a strong potential to trigger a relapse, but it doesn’t have to.

Managing grief in recovery

While there are five standard stages of grief that most people experience (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), grieving is a very personal, individualized experience.

Certain stages may last longer than others, some may overlap, and at times, you might feel as if you are drowning or “stuck” in a particular stage of grief. Be sure to surround yourself with people who support you so they can help you stay vigilant and focused on your recovery.

Here are our best tips for dealing with death and grief in addiction recovery.

Allow yourself to grieve. The first and foremost stage many people get “stuck” in is the first stage of denial. For those in recovery, it might seem easier to reject the truth than attempt to handle it in recovery, but recovery is actually an ideal environment to process your grief.

Resist the urge to withdraw. It’s okay to give yourself some space from the more vibrant and socially intense activities to heal. Isolation and total social withdrawal though, can not only negatively affect your mental health, it can serve as a temptation for relapse. Spend time outside in nature; explore healthy outlets; interact with compassionate people.

Prioritize your wellbeing. Full-spectrum wellbeing is not just about your physical health, it also includes your mental, emotional and spiritual health. Consider integrating some form of movement into your daily routine, eating more vegetables and clean proteins, as well as practicing mindfulness techniques (journaling, meditation, breathwork).

Cherish your memories. It can be excruciating to initially revisit memories of your loved one, but it’s actually a very healthy way to process your grief. Celebrate their legacy by remembering their life with joy and gratitude, rather than just mourning their death; you have wonderful memories with them. Consider channeling your shared memories through a creative outlet.

Don’t despair if you relapse. Relapse is not synonymous with failure; for many people, it actually proves to be an important mental shift that empowers them to move forwards with an even stronger commitment to their sobriety. As long as you reach out for help, it’s not the end of your recovery journey.

Contact us for help with grief in recovery

Losing a loved one is one of the hardest things we have to go through on this earth, even for those who have no history of substance abuse. Having to face the pain of the death of a loved one when you’re already going through the pain of growth and recovery can feel impossible, but it isn’t.

It’s what we’re here to help you do.

At Rehab After Work, we offer personalized and flexible treatment plans to help you feel confident in your recovery and maintenance of sobriety. We recognize that drug and/or alcohol addiction is a complex problem that can affect you with varying levels of severity and negatively impact many (if not all) areas of your life.

This is why our treatment programs for adults involve many unique components, options, and possibilities — we’re here to help you rebuild every area of your life, in addition to helping you reach and maintain sobriety.

One of those areas of your life is where the grief rests. We’re here to help you through that too.

To learn more about which of our services may be right for you, call us today at 610-644-6464 and one of our intake specialists will be able to help you proceed from here.

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