Why Do Addicts Need Grief Counseling?
We often think of grief strictly in terms of death, but it applies to so much more. A person may experience grief following the loss of a relationship, or after losing a job they enjoyed. Many addicts and alcoholics feel a sense of grief when they first enter recovery, as they feel they have lost a way of life. No matter what the source, grief results in some very difficult emotions. Denial, anger, depression—none of these are good for recovery. Whether they stem from current circumstances or unresolved losses from the past, grief counseling will help you move toward acceptance. Otherwise, the urge to mask your grief through substance abuse will put you at constant threat of relapse.
Overcoming Past Traumatic Experiences
Many are already dealing with grief by the time they enter addiction treatment. Unfortunately, they often find that the feelings they worked so hard to avoid are still there waiting for them by the time they sober up. Now, they must deal with feelings that have been left unresolved, without the crutch to help them through it. Receiving grief counseling in addiction treatment not only helps them come to terms with their feelings, but it also helps them develop proper coping skills for the next time they experience loss. Life in sobriety will not be perfect, and these skills will come in handy later on down the line.
Coping with the Loss of Friends in Recovery
The unfortunate side of recovery is that we will inevitably develop friendships with people who relapse. This is always difficult. To make matters worse, not everyone will survive it. Not only will we grieve their loss, but many will feel guilty as well. It is not uncommon when losing a friend in recovery to wonder if you could have done something to help them. The combination of guilt and sadness leads many to consider thoughts of giving up their own sobriety. Grief counseling and support are vital to overcoming these feelings of hopelessness. Sometimes addicts need to be reminded that, no matter what is happening around them, their recovery is still worth something. Suffering losses and experiencing grief can make for a difficult time in recovery, but there is no problem that drugs and alcohol will not make worse. For particularly difficult losses, grief counseling may become a necessary component of relapse prevention.