This blog post is contributed by Lori Fiester, LCSW-S, ADS, CIP, CDWF, Clinical Director of The Council on Recovery
Grief is an often overlooked feeling in clients who are on the path of recovery. Research indicates unresolved grief can lead to addiction as the person searches to numb the feeling associated with grief. If a person doesn’t have the coping tools to deal with the grief, they may search for a drug to decrease the negative feelings.
What is grief?
Grief is the natural reaction to loss. Grief is both a universal and a personal experience. Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss. Some examples of loss include the death of a loved one, the ending of an important relationship, job loss, loss through theft, or the loss of independence through disability.
When I think about grief in recovery, it’s often compared to an ending of an important relationship. Substance use or other risky behaviors become our best friend or our lover. They are with us during the best and worst of times. So when we start the journey of recovery, it’s important to deal with the feeling or we will find further issues down the road. Grief is what you feel, mourning is what you do. Grief can pass more quickly for those who are experiencing it if they take active steps to mourn the loss.
How do we deal with grief?
It’s been thought previously that if one is grieving, then they have to go through all the stages of grief, which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. What we have seen over the years is that grief is not a linear process. Those stages can happen at any time, and can and will be different for each individual. Grief can include sadness, depression, anger, fatigue, anxiety, isolation, increased irritability, numbness, not sleeping or oversleeping, digestive issues and headaches.
If you are struggling with grief and addiction, it is essential to ask for help. The Council can be that first step in this process. And if we can’t help you, we can connect you to someone who can. Contact us today through our website, or by calling us at (713) 914-0556.