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Woman outside contemplating life after addiction

After Addiction: Loss of the “Old” You

Those living with addiction may already be all-too-familiar with a sense of loss that coats their hopes and dreams and sours their relationships. Unfortunately, loss and addiction often go hand-in-hand. 


What did you first want to be when you grew up? Now that you’re here, looking around at the reality you’ve made for yourself can be a struggle. The struggle solidifies as you realize that the life you have is worlds away from the life you thought you wanted. The loss you feel in confronting that space may seem overwhelming, but you do not have to face it alone. 

When you’re moving through a life of recovery, and you’re picking up the pieces from your time in active addiction, what you put back together rarely fits the same. Likely, your relationships with your family, friends and kids have all shifted, and you have too. 

Acknowledge the loss after addiction

Spend time with the hopes and dreams that you must move on from. Maybe it’s the loss of independence or respect, changing ideas of what you do for fun, spoiled dreams of having a boozy brunch with the girls, or whiskey and a cigar with the guys or maybe the loss of feeling like a superwoman or man in the eyes of the kids. 

Let these things take up space in your mind where they are already lurking, and call them to the front. Acknowledge them, and acknowledge the spaces where things have changed. Change is not bad, and you have made it through the worst of it. You did not fail. 

There is nothing wrong with you in this space of recalibration, but you must also make space for what no longer is. No matter the strife that derailed your hopes, there will be more challenges up ahead. Feel this loss, but don’t let it consume you. 

Sidestep old survival skills

The fear of falling into the coping mechanisms you created to manage your loss can be a profound barrier to moving through the stages of grief about the way your life has gone. During recovery from mental health disorders or substance abuse, fear is often rooted in returning to the habits that thrived during your darkest times. 

Finding ways to overcome those impulses begins with acknowledging them.  Before you start to work through the magnitude of this loss, spend some time cataloging those habits and creating new ways to cope when the urge to use them arises. 

Grow unexpectedly

Here’s the thing about growth: we always expect it to happen in a linear fashion. It’s time to adjust the picture we have in our minds. Growth isn’t always forward. Sometimes, growth is expansion or curling inward. 

It comes in many forms, each just as worthy as growing forward. Give yourself space for growth that doesn’t move you forward. Just like a plant, you can be nourished in many directions. 

Acknowledging the disparity between your hopes, dreams and reality can feel like a difficult process, but the acceptance that lies beyond it is worth the struggle. Our expectations are heavy, so put down the old ones that no longer fit. Loss and addiction can strip you of those hopes, but they cannot take your potential beyond them. Let’s make space for possibility. 

You are worth the work you’ll put in as you adjust your dreams, create new hopes and celebrate the wonder of what you can still achieve. Find the addiction treatment that makes sense for you today! Calling Promises Behavioral Health Center can help you do just that.