Loss and grief are an inevitable part of life, but the stress of extreme loss during addiction recovery can be a very challenging obstacle to overcome. It may feel like second nature to fall back on drugs and alcohol to cope with feelings of grief and loss, but as a newly sober individual, you have plenty of other tools, resources, and support systems to help you maintain your sobriety while you work through the difficult emotions associated with grief.
Using Drugs and Alcohol to Cope
During active addiction, many people use drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with difficult life stressors, such as grief and loss. In this way, they attempt to numb feelings of pain and depression with addictive substances. In other cases, the addiction itself can cause painful losses. Such as the loss of a marriage, a job, or a home.
Unresolved grief and loss can resurface later in life and cause serious issues for someone who is recovering from addiction. High-quality drug rehab programs address deeply rooted and unresolved personal issues such as loss, but this process can take time and last well into a sober living program experience or aftercare.
Experiencing Loss in a Healthy Way
Most people are familiar with the five stages of grief. These stages are how people typically identify and cope with the distress of loss. Experiencing this process helps us cope with the complicated feelings and thoughts associated with the loss and learn how to live with it in a healthy way.
When a person attempts to cope with a loss by using drugs and alcohol, they may never fully experience all or any of these steps, making it difficult or nearly impossible to accept and overcome the stress of the loss.
Addiction Recovery and Loss
As a sober living resident, you are gradually learning how to adjust to a life of sobriety. This process takes time and you may find yourself dealing with particularly challenging life situations along the way.
If you experience extreme loss while in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, it may be tempting to fall back into old habits and cope with unhealthy behaviors, such as:
- Abusing an addictive substance to numb the pain
- Isolating yourself
- Not communicating your feelings with others
- Taking out your anger and frustration on loved ones and friends
Although tempting, you have every capability to not lapse back into these old, unhealthy habits. Instead, you can choose to use the tools you’ve learned in rehab and your transitional living program to deal with the loss in a more positive way.
Healthy Tips for Dealing with Loss in Addiction Recovery
If you experience a major loss while in early recovery, protecting yourself from relapse should be your main priority. Since recovering drug and alcohol addicts are more susceptible to stress, the additional stress of an extreme loss could put your sobriety at risk.
Taking deliberate steps to prevent relapse is a wise choice when faced with severe grief and loss. Here are a few tips to think about, even if you’re not currently experiencing any loss in your recovery.
- Rely on your support system – Times of loss in addiction recovery are especially challenging so relying on those who support your sobriety is essential during this time. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and don’t be shy about letting people know what you’re going through. Your sponsor, sober living roommates, AA group, and counselor are all there to help you through the good times and bad.
- Increase your meeting attendance – If you’re facing a particularly difficult life experience in recovery, it may not be a bad idea to increase your meeting attendance. By attending more 12-step support group meetings, you’ll have more opportunities to work through your personal issues with other peers in recovery and receive advice and encouragement on a regular basis.
- Be open and honest about what you’re experiencing – When you do attend meetings, it’s okay to tell the group what you’re going through. In fact, sharing your personal struggles in sobriety can be very therapeutic and will help keep you from resorting to drug and alcohol abuse to cope. Additionally, if other people know you’re struggling, they can provide extra support by checking in on you regularly, providing meals, or finding other ways to help you manage your daily responsibilities in the midst of your struggle.
- Don’t hold back – Holding back feelings of anxiety, depression, sadness, and anger will only hurt you. It’s normal to be hesitant about sharing these emotions with friends and family members, but it’s important to recognize that they want to be there for you and they want to help. Opening up and sharing your feelings with them is in no way burdening them or weighing them down.
Sober living homes and programs can provide a special type of camaraderie among residents that is especially beneficial in times of loss. As a resident at a Eudaimonia sober living home, you may find that the extra support provided by your roommates and peers in recovery helps you work through the difficult aspects of loss in recovery. Eudaimonia Recovery Homes can also provide individual therapeutic services if needed.
Coping with grief and loss in recovery can be difficult but being enrolled in a sober living program may help newly sober individuals cope with these types of challenges without reigniting their former addictions.
Call (512) 363-5914 to learn more about our sober living programs today.