Can I Treat My Substance Abuse Problem While I’m Actively Grieving a Loss?

Going through a loss is painful enough on its own, but it’s especially challenging when coupled with treating a substance abuse problem. It is entirely possible to grieve while going through treatment, but you need to take things slowly and accept help. With the right direction, you can manage to grieve while also staying the course with your recovery.

The initial shock of the news might put you in a mental tailspin. As you process what you’re feeling, you might find that it’s harder or easier than you thought. There’s no rubric to follow, as everyone deals with grief differently.

Be honest with your feelings

Losing someone that we care about is often too painful for words. Coming to terms with it takes time, but the first step is to be honest with how you’re feeling. It doesn’t have to be anything terribly deep. Just saying that you’re sad can be therapeutic. You could also be feeling angry, scared, confused, or some mix of other emotions that you can’t quite place. Speak your mind to whoever is willing to listen. Your mood might not improve, but you can know that you’re being honest with yourself, which is an important part of recovery.

Grief counseling is definitely something you should consider. A professional, such a counselor, will help you work through your mental processes following a loss. They’ll work with you to help give you insights about how your thoughts are manifesting. When looking for grief counseling, you should find someone who also has experience treating those going through substance abuse recovery. Remember that your success with any kind of therapy, from drug treatment to grief counseling, depends on how much you’re willing to put into it.

Continue your recovery

When you lose someone, you also risk losing your ability to focus on anything else. No matter how much progress you’ve made with your recovery, it could be diminished severely if you let your grief overshadow it. Recovery isn’t something that you can stop and pick up right where you left off. While you shouldn’t try to hold in your grief, you also shouldn’t use it as an excuse to neglect your recovery.

Use this loss as a time for real reflection in conjunction with your recovery. There’s often more going on when we mourn a loss than we realize. Consider why you’re feeling things as intensely as you are, and how you’re handling this loss now compared to how you might prior to entering recovery? Dealing with a loss can help you see how much progress you’ve been making. Talk about your grieving process in group meetings as much as you feel comfortable. There should be no pressure for you to get over your loss or to do it a certain way.

What to do if you relapse

Going through a loss can cause a number of feelings, such as:

  • Depression
  • Disbelief
  • Bodily pain

As a response, you might turn to using substances again. Even if you know it’s going to impede your recovery, you might believe that it’s the only means you have of comfort at the moment. However, being able to cover up your feelings with drugs or alcohol only works temporarily. Grieving, like going through recovery, is something you need to do slowly and carefully.

Relapses should be avoided, but if one does happen, you need to focus on starting over with your recovery. It should be a clear sign that your grief is especially strong and that you need additional to help to get through it. When speaking with a counselor, bring up your relapse. Consider why it happened and what thoughts led to this decision. Addiction can make us feel as though we are powerless over our urges. When we understand why we think the way we do, we prepare ourselves to make much better decisions.

Substance abuse recovery is available for anyone who is ready to accept it. Our outpatient addiction treatment center works to help patients struggling with drugs and alcohol recover and learn the tools to thrive in life. If you or someone you know needs help with treating an addiction, please call us today at 770-299-1677