Your loved one finally seeks out an addiction recovery program. You think he or she is finally in the clear, with a path of success ahead. Yet one large hurdle stands in the way – grief.
Grief is a very common feeling for people in recovery, David Sack, Ph.D., stated. For years, addiction has been the epicenter of your loved one’s life. Once that addiction is removed, the person grieves – they have nothing left. People often feel their most vulnerable and weak during recovery, making grief overwhelming.
Your loved one can worry if he or she will ever reach sobriety or if the efforts made will be a loss. Reality must also be faced. All the feelings and problems that were repressed for years come quickly to a head. This can leave a person grieving with thoughts of anger and resentment.
If you wonder what your loved one is grieving about, here are a few examples:
- The substance that used to shelter him or her from reality
- The money, job, dreams or health he or she lost
- The relationships that were ruined or torn apart
- The time wasted
- Missing loved ones’ big events.
These are just a few of many issues a person may grieve about. Luckily, many treatment centers address these feelings during meetings and counseling. If you are curious whether grieving the loss of addiction is similar to grieving the loss of a loved one, it is, Addiction Treatment Magazine stated. If you are confused, consider the five stages of grief in addiction.
Denial is the first part of grieving. In recovery, a person may deny his or her addiction or the feelings associated with recovering. It is uncomfortable to address the feelings that had previously been avoided.
Feeling angry during a grieving period is normal. Questions like “Why me?” often arise. Sobriety can muster up anger in any person, regardless of his or her personality. It is frustrating to let go of a long-time crutch.
A person struggling with addiction often feels like he or she has to bargain to control his or her substance use and act normally. A person in recovery may still feel like he or she is bargaining by trying to think of ways to keep using without ruining everything.
Depression is a common feeling in recovery. Eventually, it sinks in – the substance desired is no longer attainable. Depression also can be caused by fear of the unknown. Keep in mind, it has been awhile since this person has led a normal life. A person can overcome depression with the help of a counselor.
Acceptance is the final stage of grief. Your loved one realizes that the past filled with substance abuse is behind him or her. But that is okay. Recovery is about finding joy in life while being sober. Your loved one begins to accept who he or she is and how to begin a life of sobriety.
Grief is a natural part of the recovery process. It is not necessarily bad, but it can cause changes in a person’s behavior. Eventually grieving does come to an end, and your loved one can continue recovering.