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How to Deal With Grief and Addiction

Experience clinician-run addiction treatment at Red Oak Recovery® in the pristine Blue Ridge Mountains

How to Deal With Grief and Addiction

The majority of Americans experience a major loss in any given year, with some experiencing complicated grief, a more intense form of grief that leaves them feeling hopeless and at high risk for substance use. Sadly, many of these people do not receive the grief counseling they so desperately need.

At Red Oak Recovery®, we recognize the strong connection between grief and addiction, so we aim to treat both in our mental health treatment programs. Addressing co-occurring grief and addiction provides our clients with the best chance for lasting recovery. To learn more about how we can help you heal from grief and addiction, call us today at 866.457.7590.

The Grief and Addiction Cycle

Grief and addiction often go hand-in-hand, with grief being the catalyst in many substance use disorders. Some people turn to substance use to numb or suppress their grief. Without grief counseling, those painful emotions will return when you stop using drugs or alcohol. Eventually, the substance use turns into substance abuse, and you fall into the trap of addiction.

The pain that accompanies grief can be intense. You may want to shut down your feelings and ignore them, but they do not go away independently. Untreated mental and emotional health issues like grief spring up again and again, leading to:

  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Self-harm
  • Poor performance at work and school

In most cases, it’s necessary to go through all of the stages of grief for you to heal and move on. The grief process can be challenging, especially if you attempt to do it on your own. The best way to process your grief is with professional grief counseling. Grief counselors are fully versed in the stages of grief and can help you every step of the way.

Healthy Ways to Cope With Grief and Addiction

To finally extricate yourself from the endless cycle of grief and addiction, you need to develop healthy coping skills. Some coping skills are preventative, while others can help you on the spot. Here are some healthy ways to deal with grief and addiction:

  • Strengthen your overall mental and emotional health. Practicing regular self-care can help you feel stronger the next time grief or other stressors creep up on you. Get plenty of rest, do things you enjoy, spend time outdoors, and make sure you are eating a balanced diet. This will make it easier for you to make better choices and avoid relapse.
  • Exercise daily. Moving your body is one of the best ways to shift your energy when you experience tough emotions. When you feel depressed or tired, physical activity may be the last thing on your mind, but even just gentle movements like walking, stretching, yoga, or Tai Chi can provide relief. If your emotions tend toward anger, you may benefit from more vigorous forms of exercise like running, boxing, or weight lifting.
  • Attend grief counseling sessions. It is helpful to have supportive friends or family members you can talk to when you are struggling, but having a completely unbiased therapist to speak to and help guide you through the recovery process is invaluable. Grief counselors are trained to help you fully process the loss you are experiencing so you can heal and move on.
  • Attend group therapy or join a support group. Being around others who can relate to your grief can help you realize you are not alone.

If you’re struggling with grief and an addiction, it may be time to seek treatment. You’ll find other men who are encouraging and supporting one another through life’s struggles and accomplishments, which can help keep you on the path to recovery.

Find Support at Red Oak Recovery®

Treating mental health conditions and addiction together is the best way to recover fully. Our dual diagnosis treatment programs at Red Oak Recovery® treat the whole person to prepare our clients for a sober lifestyle. Call us today at 866.457.7590 to end the cycle of grief and addiction so you can move on to a happier, healthier life.