How Do You Deal with Grief Without Drugs or Alcohol?

How Do You Deal with Grief Without Drugs or Alcohol?

The grieving process involves recognizing loss, acknowledging it and experiencing the associated emotions fully

Addiction development is closely related to poor mental health or a lack of coping skills. Individuals who cannot or do not know how to process grief may turn to drugs or alcohol to mask unwanted or unavoidable feelings. However there are many healthy ways for Californians to manage grief, and choosing substance abuse will only lead to dependence, addiction and greater loss.

The connection between grief and addiction development is clear. The Saint Luke Institute explains that many active addicts “speak of their problematic drinking, gambling, eating or sexual acting out as being triggered or fueled by some major loss which was not sufficiently acknowledged, processed and expressed. Such inchoate, or incomplete, grief can easily become the catalyst for addictive behaviors” (“Incomplete Grief: A Catalyst for Addiction and Recovery,” Summer 2012). Individuals such as those working with the Saint Luke Institute are aware of the loss and grief that triggered their poor coping mechanisms, but others may not have the same clarity or may be in denial about their feelings. They may not recognize the grief or loss in their life, or they may believe they have addressed it.

Grief can be caused by obvious and tragic sources of loss such as the death of a loved one or learning of terminal illness, but according to WebMD, the following can also lead to grief:

  • Job loss
  • End of a relationship
  • Moving homes
  • A decrease in independence

These and other causes of grief may not be as obvious as death or illness, but they still have a long-term impact on mental health and can contribute to substance abuse and addiction development. Recognizing the signs of grief allow sufferers in California to talk with mental health professionals about underlying causes of sadness and loss, and to address these issues without turning to drug use. According to the Saint Luke Institute, the grieving process involves recognizing loss, acknowledging it and experiencing the associated emotions fully. Drugs and alcohol prevent individuals from completing one or all of these stages. Individuals may hide their loss from themselves or others or they may avoid the emotions involved with loss, and they may do so by engaging in a partying lifestyle, reclusive drug use or other unhealthy substance abuse habits.

If you are ready to move forward after loss, grief and addiction, please reach out to one of our admissions coordinators. We are here to help you and your family find the support and resources needed for a healthy life. All calls and phone services are free, and we are here for you 24 hours a day.

Leave a Reply