The loss of a loved one is one of the biggest fears people in recovery face. When you have suffered a profound loss, especially the death of someone close, you will discover that the grieving process is uniquely painful. But learning how to cope with grief without losing your sobriety is essential if you expect to accept the change and keep moving forward. People in recovery must practice healthy coping strategies to avoid relapse.
If you have ever experienced grief, you know that the waves of emotion that characterize bereavement can seem unending. But the pain of grief notwithstanding, it is an essential and unavoidable part of processing the loss and eventually acclimating to life as it is now. A Zen proverb states succinctly, “The obstacle is the path.”
When you are in recovery, grief can be profoundly unsettling and, in some cases, can result in a relapse. Maintaining a healthy recovery program and securing or continuing access to professional guidance to lead you through the stages of grief is crucial to adopting new, positive ways to cope and continue on your recovery journey.
For some, grief may be the catalyst for addiction. As the agony of your grief becomes intolerable, you may turn to alcohol or other substances to deal with it. What began as a distraction turns into an addiction. Unfortunately, drinking or using other substances doesn’t resolve the feelings that come from the grieving process; the feelings just get numbed or suppressed. It doesn’t help that the addiction adds more problems to the already unmanageable situation.
Aside from grief due to a loved one’s death, you will find yourself grieving other things in early recovery. Loss is a frequent side-effect of addiction. As your addiction starts to drain more of your time, energy, and money, you lose personal relationships. Although the people may not be deceased, the relationships you lose to your addiction still need to be mourned.
Grief takes on new connotations when you’re in recovery from addiction because shedding old behaviors can unearth old losses and restart stalled processes. Recent deaths can trigger past grief that was never adequately processed, which can be overwhelming when your old coping skills are absent. When these feelings of grief and fear are aroused in an environment without some support, they pose a severe threat to continued sobriety.
Although the intertwinement of substance use disorder and grief is complicated, addiction professionals can help you sort through your feelings and patterns of behavior to move through grief stages and build new, healthier coping skills. Handling grief may entail sorting through intense sadness, anxiety, and anger; doing so in a safe space with people who have experience in the grieving process helps your well-being and maintains a sustainable recovery.
While the experiences of grief and loss in recovery are challenging, using the new coping methods you’ve learned can ease the weight of sorrow and help you maintain and even enhance your sobriety. Here are some things to remember:
Grief and loss are incredibly difficult for people in recovery. If you have a support network, you must utilize them. Now is the time to gather your tribe and lean on them. However, if you find that you are still struggling, you may want to add more resources. Hired Power provides Personal Recovery Assistants to help you cope with some of the more significant hurdles in your sobriety; grief qualifies as a substantial hurdle. When it comes to making arrangements for counseling, finding an appropriate support group, and utilizing other community resources, a Personal Recovery Assistant can take the pressure off and allow you to get through the grieving process in the healthiest way possible. Call Hired Power at (714) 559-3919 to determine how they can help you work through this difficult time. Others have come out the other side of the grieving process sober; you can do it too.
“I have worked with Hired Power extensively in collaboration with Clearview Treatment Programs’ individualized outpatient program. I am always impressed with their effectiveness and professionalism.”
“Thanks again for being there for us and guiding us through some rough waters. Your kindness and genuine concern deeply touched my soul and we are all grateful our paths crossed when they did. You are a truly gifted professional, keep on doing what you do so well.”
“I just want to thank Hired Power for the PRA. He was a perfect match and I can’t say enough…. He was intensely committed. This is the first time I have been clean in over 30 years. Thank you again.”
“I don’t look at you (Hired Power) as hiring a service, I look at you as saving my life.” (referring to his ability to stay sober after returning home).