Grief is the emotional reaction to a traumatic event, specifically to trauma, loss, or death. People experience grief in different ways and at different paces. Grief can be expressed spiritually, socially, physically, emotionally, creatively, or even through avoidance techniques, which may lead to negative coping skills and developments of addictions. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, grief occurring after the loss of a loved one is normal. However, grief that lasts for an extended period or is remarkably severe may require treatment, and may even lead to the development of an addiction to cope with the loss. Therefore, grief and addiction are closely related, as grief often causes a person to turn to substance abuse for relief, worsening substance abuse, and fueling an addiction. Conversely, addiction may cause the loss of a loved one, which can cause or worsen grief as well.
The Expressions of Grief
Experiencing grief differs from person to person, but can be expressed by the following:
- Self-destructive behavior
- Sleep problems
- Binge eating or drinking
- Suicidal Ideation
Emotions such as guilt can lead to harmful habits for the loved one, as they may turn to substances to cope with these feelings. Maintaining healthy relationships and strong support systems are imperative to endure the emotional trauma of grief.
The Parallels Between Grief and Addiction
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, many parallels exist between the experiences that people have in their attachments to loved ones and the experiences that people have in their attachments to addiction to drugs or alcohol. Personal attachments and drug addiction share many qualities, including how they grow and decline within each individual. Addiction recovery is a type of grief, in which the person is grieving the loss of the addiction to reach recovery. Therefore, the grief of the loss of a loved one mirrors the grief that occurs when someone enters an addiction recovery program. They are having to let go of something they have grown extremely attached to, leading to a sense of loss.
Losing someone you love is one of the most painful things a person can experience in life. Grief can cause even the strongest of people to succumb to alcohol and drugs to cope. However, using drugs or alcohol only leads to further negative emotions that make it harder to navigate through grief. At Fort Worth Recovery, we understand that recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol is a personal and challenging experience. We seek to inspire clients to face their challenges, accept their present state, and foster hope for their future.
If you or someone you know is struggling with dealing with an addiction to drugs or alcohol following a loss, call us today at 817-381-9741, or visit us online.