Addiction is a serious malady that impacts all parts of a person’s life. Without proper treatment, the risk of serious consequences grows. People with substance abuse issues face risks to their physical and mental health, their financial wellbeing, and the loss of important relationships. It is an all-encompassing problem.
There are many reasons a person might develop an addiction. There is no one way to determine how and why people get addicted. Many people experiment with drugs or alcohol and lose control after a period of heavy use. Others may desire certain effects that drugs and alcohol provide. Some people begin to use drugs and alcohol as a way to numb the pain of grief after a significant loss or trauma. After all, many get addicted in order to not feel a certain way about something.
While grief is part of the human experience, it can also be overwhelming and impair a person’s ability to function in their daily life if they don’t know how to navigate it. When a person’s ability to cope is overtaken by grief, they may turn to a substance to numb themselves and help them get through the experience. For some, this means starting to abuse substances.
People who are grieving and addicted need extra support during treatment for their addiction. The structure of these centers and the around-the-clock support of can offer a healing environment where addicts can heal from their addiction and learn healthy ways to cope with their grief. In fact, due to the constant support, an addiction treatment center can be one of the best places to cope with grief and loss.
If you or someone you love is grieving and needs substance abuse treatment, reach out to us at San Diego Sober Living. We can point you in the right direction to receive the support and treatment you need. We can also offer you a safe sober living environment to help you navigate sobriety.
What is Grief?
Grief is a natural reaction to a significant loss. Many people think of the grief that often follows the death of a loved one, but grief can follow any kind of big loss or life change. Some people experience grief after the end of a life stage, divorce, or a change in their health.
Grief is usually thought of as sadness, but it is more complex than that. Instead, grief is a complex experience with both emotional and physical symptoms. Some of these symptoms include:
- Changes in sleep or appetite
- Weight gain or loss
- Preoccupation with the loss
- Overwhelming sadness
- Physical weakness
There is not a single, all-inclusive list of the symptoms of grief. It is an experience that is unique to each person who goes through it. The type of grief, the length someone experiences it, and the way they move through it vary greatly from person to person.
Grief has no timeline and can be unpredictable. Someone may develop grief immediately after the loss or years afterward. Some people have a short period of grief and some live with grief for years.
Grief and loss are unpredictable. Therefore, they can be difficult to identify. However, if an effective addiction treatment plan is made available, it can help people move forward.
Understanding the Connection Between Grief, Loss, and Addiction
When grief overwhelms a person’s ability to cope, people often look for any way possible to dull or numb the pain. Some turn to eating. Some turn to working too much. And some turn to drugs or alcohol.
While using drugs and alcohol may provide a temporary numbing of the symptoms of grief, it can keep people from moving forward. It also puts people at increased risk of developing an addiction that can bring other harmful consequences.
Many substances, including alcohol, act as a depressant in the body. The effects of these substances can worsen depression. Substance abuse often prevents people from keeping up with basic daily activities like eating regularly, sleeping well, and making good choices about their health. All of this can lead to prolonged depression and worsen other mental health problems.
Many factors can make it more likely that a person will become addicted to drugs or alcohol. These include biological factors, genetics, environment, and mental health. However, any person can develop an addiction if they use drugs or alcohol for a prolonged period. Experiencing grief increases a person’s chances of developing an addiction, regardless of other factors.
Grief and Loss Healing During Addiction Treatment
Addiction treatment generally happens in stages. Many people start the process in a medically supervised detox program. In detox, people receive support and treatment that allows them to have a safe, complete detox from drugs or alcohol.
After detox, people must begin a treatment program that gives them the support and skills they need to heal from their addiction, live a healthy, sober lifestyle, and avoid relapse in the future. During treatment, people participate in a combination of evidence-based and holistic therapies that support healing and recovery. These therapies can help people move through grief, too.
- Individual therapy helps people identify and heal sources of grief or trauma
- Group therapy supports emotional processing and community healing
- Education gives people skills and resources to manage their emotions and adapt to challenges more effectively
- Holistic therapies promote physical and emotional healing and provide healthy ways to manage grief, anger, and other challenging emotions
In both grief and addiction recovery, having support is essential. During treatment, people will be referred to community resources that can give them long-term support after their program ends.