Grief is a natural reactions to life’s circumstances, especially in the case of death, or loss of another kind. It is not immediately obvious as a reaction when one loses a way of living, or a way of looking at themselves. The loss of a way of life is also a great loss. In the case of emerging from an addiction into recovery, grief may arise as a reaction to the acute changes taking place within the individual in recovery. An understanding and acceptance of the grief process helps in taking the mystery away from recovery.
Loss of Addiction
No matter how much damage or trauma an addicted individual’s drug or alcohol abuse may have caused themselves or their loved ones, when the individual goes into recovery, it is natural for the individual to miss their drug. The individual in recovery is going to miss the highs, the escape from reality and the distraction the drug provided. That can be overwhelming to deal with, as can reality without a buffer.
Along with the loss of addiction comes the loss of relationships. The individual in recovery often has to cut off relationships with the people who were companion addicts, or enablers. For some, whole social groups have to be given up and happy hours avoided just to ensure staying in recovery.
Loss of Freedom
Living a life of addiction often means not being accountable or responsible to loved ones. Any activities that interfere with the addiction are given up. With recovery comes responsibility and a great deal of accountability. All commitments have to be met. The individual in recovery is not free to do as they choose, without consequences.
The Stages of Grief
It is commonly accepted that grief follows a pattern. That being said, not everyone who is grieving experiences all the stages, nor do the stages follow a predictable pattern. Nevertheless, the feelings and situations experienced by an individual in recovery can be closely aligned with the concept of grief.
Stage 1 – Denial
Typically, an individual in denial will not be able to fully comprehend the depth of their loss. Denial acts as a safety mechanism. An individual who is addicted utilizes denial to avoid taking responsibility for their actions.
Stage 2 – Anger
When denial doesn’t work, the addicted individual turns to anger. They are angry that anyone could think they have a problem. An individual who is addicted will try to hold anything or anyone else responsible and vent their anger on spouses, or parents, or friends.
Stage 3 – Bargaining
Bargaining is a form of trying to maintain control, without making any real change to the situation. It comes when the individual who is addicted is starting to realize that there is a problem.
Stage 4 – Depression
Depression begins when there is true surrender to the depth of the addictive problem. The individual who is addicted starts to descend into fear, and struggles with their decisions and the resulting consequences.
Stage 5 – Acceptance
As the individual with the addiction comes to terms with recovery, acceptance takes root. The individual has a glimmer of hope that there is a path laid out for their recovery.
Recovery is a lengthy process, and there are no quick fixes. There is no immediate relief. Going through the pain is a part of recovery, but there is no doubt that it will create meaningful change.
Hired Power provides information and resources for addiction intervention and recovery. If you are struggling to kick a drug or substance use habit, call us. Let us help you create a solid foundation for lasting recovery. 1-800-910-9299