When you get sober, there are many facets of your life you’re letting go of. Not to mention that recovery also means letting go of a part of who you are and an old way of relating to the world. Plus, in recovery, you might recognize just how much you’ve lost as a result of the addiction. The illness of addiction can destroy relationships, create financial harm, ruin a career, and divide a family. Addiction can create turmoil, loss, and reasons to grieve. And often, that grieving doesn’t happen until after recovery begins.
In fact, many men and women in recovery find themselves becoming more emotionally aware. As the numbness of addiction wears off and as they grow their ability to feel their emotions, people may feel more and more of the losses they’ve experienced in the past.
If you’re in recovery and you’re looking for a way to manage grief and loss, here are a few suggestions.
- Be aware that you’re going to experience a wide range of emotions. It’s okay to feel emotions of loss, pain, hurt, anger and grief. Sometimes finally crying over a friend’s suicide or the loss of a spouse in divorce can be particularly difficult. Loss can be an incredibly deep pain that is hard to describe. No matter how difficult it is, allowing yourself to feel it will help the healing process.
- Know the process of grieving. Many experts of the grieving process recognize that there are clearly defined steps toward healing. The most recognized process of grieving and healing are the five steps identified by Elizabeth Kubler Ross. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining (trying to bargain your way out of the loss, “If I do better then maybe I can bring my friend back”), depression, and acceptance.
- Get the support you need. Feelings and emotions are not always easy to be with. In fact, some people turn to drugs and alcohol to avoid challenging feelings. If this describes you, then it’s important to get the help of a therapist, drug counselor, or psychologist to help you in developing healthy coping tools for managing emotions. Having a mental health provider to support you can ease the experience of facing difficult emotions.
- Allow yourself to laugh. It sounds odd, but sometimes part of grieving is laughing. Recalling the good times and remembering meaningful experiences can bring on smiles and laughter. This can facilitate healing as well as boost your recovery experience. In fact, laughter a sign of restoring your emotional health.
- Let yourself accept the past and move on. At some point, you’re going to move on with your life. You might remarry, start a new career, get your children back, or repair old family relationships. The final stage of grieving is acceptance and this includes moving on with your life.
Because grief and loss can be difficult experiences to face, these suggestions may help ease the process. However, if you feel you need support, don’t hesitate to seek the assistance of a mental health provider.
The Lakehouse Recovery Center is a residential drug rehab center in Westlake Village, CA. We provide drug detox, addiction treatment, drug treatment aftercare, and relapse prevention. Connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or visit our blog for helpful addiction and recovery tips.
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