How Do I Support My Loved One As They Grieve The Loss Of Addiction?

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In the clinical and community environment of a treatment center, it can be difficult to draw the lines of healthy boundaries which differentiate one’s grieving process from the next. Everyone is meant to have their own access to processing difficult emotions. Unfortunately, when grief comes out at unexpected times in unexpected ways it can heighten sensitivity and cause tension. While in treatment, it is important to understand that everyone is going through a similar, yet different process. People don’t tend to arrive at a treatment center on a high note. Instead, they’re experiencing a lot of pain and suffering, struggling to find balance in their lives.

Get Out With “Get Over It”

When we try to support ourselves as well as friends through the process of grieving the loss of drugs and alcohol, we can quickly become exhausted and terse. Problematically, there is an air of this throughout the recovery community which feels that “addicts” and “alcoholics” need to be given tough love so they don’t continue to ruminate on the good old days of active using. To someone on the outside it might seem like it’s just drugs and alcohol. Since the abuse of substances was obviously ruining your life, what is the big deal? You’re sober now! You should just get over it. Drug and alcohol addiction is an intimate and emotional relationship as much as it is a chemical one. Substances can act as heroes, friends, family, therapists, and sanctuary. Yes, sobriety is great! Everyone deserves the chance to process saying goodbye to their old friends as they work toward a new way of life.

Supporting Those Who are Grieving 

“What seems to help the most is allowing the bereaved to talk,” Spectator UK writes. “The overriding premise is that…an examined death is as important as an examined life.” Reviewing a book on grief, the article highlights some of the ways to get through grief and support others who are grieving. For those who are bystanders to the grieving process, the article suggests two things: patience and active support. “Don’t leave vague messages saying you’re there for the person,” the article advises, “take food round. Do simple things together, like going for a walk. Don’t cry too much or they end up exhausted from having to comfort you.” Often, people who are in a grieving process have to deal with the grief of others. You’ve waited a long time for your loved one to finally reach out and accept help. Hearing them talk about drugs and alcohol in such a way can be unsettling because you’re absolutely terrified they’ll never “get over it” and move on with their lives. You’re grieving a loss too, finally able to process the many years your loved one was lost to drugs and alcohol.