Managing Grief During Addiction Recovery

Grief is expected when you lose a loved one. What isn’t always expected is that when you decide to make a positive change in your life and conquer addiction … along with it comes a feeling of loss and grief.  It’s a strange phenomenon. Instead of your mind rewarding you with a feeling of excitement and support for your good decision, you are instead faced with sadness that can sometimes bring you to tears. If you are just starting your road to recovery, you probably are fully relating to what I’m talking about. If you’re not quite started on your journey, listen up because it most certainly should be something you can and should prepare for during addiction recovery.

Chances are your addiction has caused you considerable loss. Perhaps it is your friends, family, finances, or even your morals and values have suffered a blow. Despite the losses, for some reason your mind still envisions your substance or activity of choice as a means to comfort rather than the cause of the destruction. Now that it’s gone, grief has set in. Preparing to recognize, accept and respond to your grief in different facets of your life will greatly contribute to your success, and help to limit the effects.

You’ve just lost a good friend. Your ‘friend’ was your substance or activity of choice, and they are no longer a part of your life.. Expect some sadness, and a feeling of mourning your loss. It is something that you relied upon for comfort or was a means to cope with difficulty. To your mind it was a friend, and you no longer have this friend to lean on for comfort.

Your routine, lifestyle and social circle has disappeared. Many areas of your daily life have likely just changed, and people can be naturally resistant to change. Your after work activities, the people you socialized with on the weekend, or places you used to go may no longer be a part of your new lifestyle. The ‘hobbies’ you may have had or how you ‘blew off steam’ are no longer there for you. There will be a feeling of uncertainty or emptiness until new patterns has been established.

Lack of familiarity with who you are. There may be a feeling of not knowing exactly who you are anymore, or what you even enjoy in life. How do you get pleasure? How do you celebrate achievements or special events? What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? Your personal identity has suffered a blow, and until it is redefined you may experience a loss of your sense of self.

Losses resulting from your addiction. As your new sober reality sets in, it may come to light that due to addiction you have lost some things that you once loved. It may be your family, connection to your children, your job, financial security, or your health. These are all harsh discoveries to the newly sober addict, and rightfully so, there will be sadness when you take inventory on your losses due to addiction.

So, what now? Will the sadness ever go away? The good news is, absolutely! But just like any grieving process, you will need to accept the changes and work through the pain.  New patterns, hobbies, and friendships will be formed over time. Expecting some grief, and proactively working through the grieving process in a healthy way will help to solidify your long term recovery goals. Having a counsellor or support person trained to providing techniques to minimize the pain and move towards recovery will be a great help.

My world class “Recovery In The Now” Addiction Treatment Program offers support and coaching from the comfort of your home via phone, skype, and email. You don’t need to ‘white knuckle’ it alone through your recovery. If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, please reach out.

Warren Broad
Creator of the Recovery In The Now Program for Addiction Recovery

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *