Grief is a natural feeling that individuals experience after a traumatic event or the death of a loved one. Although grieving is natural, it can pose threats to sobriety for people in addiction recovery. Fortunately, there are a few things that people in recovery can do when faced with grief. Additionally, individuals enrolled into treatment can also attain healing from grief through the resources and support available to them at a rehabilitation facility. Whether you are experiencing grief throughout treatment or recovery, healing from grief can be acquired with time, support, and through experiencing the stages of grief.

What is Grief?

Grief is one of the most debilitating human experiences known to mankind. It’s a reaction to a situation that can affect an individual’s physical health, social responsibilities, and even actions. Grief is usually experienced after the death of someone loved, but it can also occur as a result of letting go of past lifestyles. Individuals leaving a life of active addiction may experience grief due to the loss of a lifestyle that they once believed described who they are. Grief brings about many emotions including sadness, anger, depression, anxiety, and fear. It can also affect an individual’s judgment, posing risks for eventual relapse for those in recovery. For this reason, it is incredibly important that individuals experiencing grief in recovery to get help so that healing from grief can begin. If it is not confronted or managed, grief may:

  • Demotivate individuals to stay sober
  • Separate individuals from their relationship with a higher power
  • Cause lethargy
  • Pose risks to relationships and connections
  • Lead to overreactions
  • Lead to apathetic behavior
  • Create feelings of hopelessness and/or uselessness
  • Lead to a lack of appetite
  • Cause insomnia
  • Lead to an overall low quality of life

Surround Yourself with Support Early

One of the most important things anyone can do when experiencing grief is to reach out to others. Whether in recovery, treatment, or neither; we need the support of others to heal. Humans are social beings, and recruiting the support of family members, friends, and other close relationships will give you the opportunity to share memories, express emotions, and begin the healing from grief. If you are in recovery and you fear that your grief may lead you to relapse, reach out to a sponsor or recovery peer to offer support and guide you to making the best decisions for your life and sobriety.

Don’t Run from your Feelings

When experiencing grief, it is all too common that individuals retreat within themselves because they do not want to feel the pain. Without the escape that drugs provide, individuals in recovery are likely to become apathetic or shut down completely. The more an individual does this, the longer it will take to acquire healing from grief. Instead of hiding from the painful feelings that grief provides, face them head on. It’s okay to feel pain and sadness. They are natural emotions that each human experiences throughout their lifetime. Actually feeling and experiencing these emotions will provide you with the strength you need to heal and move on.

Don’t Forget to Eat and Sleep

Commonly, grief can lead to a decrease in appetite and insomnia. But, doing this poses threats to sobriety for those in treatment or recovery. If you recognize that you are not eating enough or as frequently, ask a trusted friend in recovery to help keep you on schedule with meal times. To get the right amount of sleep, try sleeping on a schedule; taking measures to sleep the exact time and length each night. If you need to sleep throughout the day, take your nap at the same time and length each day. If setting a sleeping schedule still isn’t helping, ask your addiction counselor or therapist about medicinal options.

Get Healing from Grief and Addiction Treatment

If you are addicted to drugs and are also experiencing grief, or if you are in recovery and experiencing grief, there is help for you! The addiction specialists at The Discovery Institute offer grief counseling services, holistic therapies, and much more that have the potential to help with healing from grief. Each individual that comes to Discovery is treated according to their needs, including the need to heal as a result of experiencing grief. Are you ready to face your addiction and grief? Give us a call today to speak with an experienced addiction specialist at 888-616-7177.


Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MDDr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.

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