Coping with Grief from Substance Abuse

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By Renae Evans

The loss of a spouse, child, friend, or other family member through alcohol or drug abuse can be
especially devastating to your physical, mental, and spiritual health. Knowing that it is okay and normal to grieve and how to express that grief can help you heal.

Everyone mourns their own time

For some, the loss of a loved one can hit them instantly. You can feel uncontrollable grief over it
Your child, spouse, friend, or other family member is no longer with you.

Others may not process this new information right away. You can get stuck in the denial phase, where you can’t focus on the fact that your loved one has passed away. It may take days or even weeks for them to truly understand their loss.

Regardless of whether you fall into the first or second category, it is important to seek help. Keeping everything in bottles can have detrimental effects on your mental health and even lead to depression.

Talking to people around you or a psychologist can help you express your feelings and understand a world where your loved one is no longer with you.

Everyone mourns in their own way

Grief usually comes in many forms, such as:
● Rejection
● disbelief
● confusion
● shock
● sadness
● Longing
● anger
● Despair
● guilt

Some may feel all of these emotions and more after a loss, while others may only feel some of them. No matter what you are feeling, it’s important to know that everyone is different and that there is not just one way to help you grieve.

After losing a loved one to substance abuse, you can become angry with that person. You can be mad at your loved one for taking the substances they took away from you. You can even get mad at yourself if you spot a drug or alcohol abuse problem and don’t stop it before it has catastrophic consequences.

Shock and disbelief are also common emotions that can arise after a sudden overdose, when you are unaware that your loved one is addicted to harmful substances. You may even feel guilty for not realizing the substance abuse.

Regardless of what emotions you experience during this time, it is important to remember that this is normal, that the substance abuse was not your fault, and that you will get through this difficult time.

Discussing your feelings with a therapist or other licensed psychologist can help you understand what you are really feeling and how to begin to accept your loss.

Be patient with yourself and others

Remember that everyone experiences loss differently and that it will take a long time to heal. Be patient with others who treat the death of a loved one differently than you do.

Others may reach the acceptance phase sooner or later than you. In any case, it is important to be patient and support one another. It is just as important to be patient with yourself. You can’t speed up the grieving process.

Giving yourself time to heal will make the process easier and less stressful for your mental and emotional health.

Author bio

Renae Evans is the Outreach Coordinator at Springhill Recovery

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