Coping With Grief and Loss in Recovery

Coping With Grief and Loss in Recovery

While in recovery, many clients may experience grief and loss. These factors can make the recovery journey more challenging, making it even more important for clients to be supported by those around them. Grief and loss are often paired together, andthese feelings can enhance in clientswhen removing substances during detox and recovery. 

At Roots Recovery, we emphasize the importance of a supportive community for those coping with grief and loss while on their recovery journey. Our specialized teams help support our clients, and we strongly encourage reaching out to one’s support system outside of our community as well. 

Grief and Loss During Recovery

Those in addiction recovery are more vulnerable to high emotions and intense feelings. Many clients with substance use disorders (SUDs) have turned to substances to cope with loss(es) in their personal lives. When going through detox and eventually trying to remain consistent in their recovery journey, clients will experience intense feelings of grief due to these losses. These feelings can make recovery very difficult. 

Due to these intensified emotions and inner feelings on the recovery journey, some clients develop complicated grief (CG). Complicated grief occurs when a client has a persistent and intense yearning, longing, or sadness. When coping with loss, clients may have uncontrollable thoughts or images of their losses accompanied by disbelief or inability to accept the reality of their loss.

These intense feelings may also bring about feelings of depression and anxiety as well. Symptoms of depression and anxiety include:

  • Low energy, fatigue 
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleeping problems such as oversleeping, insomnia, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep
  • Muscle tension and a racing heart
  • Teeth grinding
  • Cramps or other gastrointestinal problems
  • Panic attacks
  • Pessimism
  • Difficulty with decision making
  • Feelings of emptiness and grief
  • Anger and irritability
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Constant worrying
  • Suicidal tendencies or attempts

It is important not to confuse grief and depression, however. While grief can lead to depression, they are not the same. Grief typically lasts for two to three months, depending on the client, and symptoms between the two may overlap. Depressive symptoms are also more severe and occur for longer, while grief from loss occurs in stages.

The goal is to avoid falling back into destructive habits, turning to substances to ignore these feelings, or developing a co-occurring disorder with depression or anxiety. That is why it is vital to implement coping mechanisms and turn to professionals to help cope with these feelings while on a recovery journey. 

Coping With Grief and Loss

Emotional distress is normal and is valid to experience during the recovery journey. Coping with grief and loss, especially when experiencing depressive symptoms or CG, can be treated with antidepressants. When these feelings are less extreme, a support group and therapy are recommended to clients.

Often, clients will go through a 12-Step program, which can aid clients passing through grief while in recovery. Mindfulness and returning to the present moment are practiced with clients coping with grief and recovery. 

Coping with grief and loss can be tasking for an individual, so it is essential for clients also to have a supportive community. This supportive community may include partners, family members, friends, or other loved ones. Clients in recovery learn to be more expressive of their feelings and thoughts, and having this supportive community to express themselves encourages their recovery and healing journeys. While going through difficult changes, this external support system is crucial.

Coping With Grief and Loss at Roots Recovery

At Roots Recovery, a specialized team is created for each client to support and guide them on their recovery journeys. Each team member helps clients through the whole-person approach. This approach to client care focuses on healing and repairing the connection between the mind, body, and spirit. Rather than solely focusing on recovery from addiction, the client’s emotions, thoughts, and feelings are also discussed. This helps the client heal fully and also allows them to create a trusting and supportive community with those at Roots Recovery. 

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing are often implemented into this care. 

CBT is a therapy that focuses on exploring relationships between one’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. This allows the client to uncover their unhealthy thinking patterns and understand how they contribute to their self-destructive behaviors; for those coping with grief and loss while in recovery, CBT allows clients a safe space to explore and address their feelings and thoughts about the loss. This helps clients express themselves and face their loss in a safe space. Clients learn to reconstruct their thinking patterns with their therapist to produce healthier behaviors and beliefs.

Motivational interviewing at Roots Recovery helps clients practice mindful awareness of their addictive trappings and tendencies. They grow awareness of their triggers, destructive habits, and seemingly uncontrollable reactions. For those coping with grief and loss, motivational interviewing can help clients understand their loss and how their grief turns them to substances. In this therapy, clients practice mindfulness to bring themselves back to the present moment, pause and bring awareness to their choices before impulsively acting. This helps clients choose healthier coping mechanisms to deal with complicated feelings, turning them away from destructive habits.

Here at Roots Recovery, our team helps clients persevere past feelings of grief and loss during their recovery journeys. Often people with substance use disorders turn to these substances to cope with loss and stages of grief. Some clients can develop mental health disorders such as depression as they turn to self-destructive habits to cope with difficult emotions. At Roots, the whole-person approach to care is implemented for the client to heal themselves internally and develop healthy coping mechanisms for grief and loss. Therapies such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and motivational interviewing may also be implemented into one’s plan to help address and express one’s feelings. Call (562) 473-0827 to learn more.

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