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The Connection Between Grief and Addiction

Grief is a crippling emotion that can impact a person’s quality of life in many ways. Attempting to live with unresolved grief can bring many unwanted effects, including drug or alcohol addiction. A grief therapy program helps restore healing and wholeness, offering a path forward when substance use becomes a means of coping with loss. 

If you or a loved one are struggling with overwhelming grief, substance use disorder, or a combination of the two, help is available. Contact Promises at 844.875.5609 for more information on our substance use and grief therapy programs.  ​​

What Is Grief?

Grief is a response to experiencing loss that can last for a brief period or go on for years. Many people find it difficult to cope with the overwhelming feelings of loss, pain, and sadness that accompany grief. 

A short period of grief is a normal response to a significant loss. However, when grief continues unchecked, it can harm areas of life like relationships, hobbies, and self-care. 

Grief therapy helps clients understand how grief affects addiction. Therapy can profoundly impact mental and emotional health, restoring a person’s ability to grow and thrive after a significant loss.  

Does Grief Cause Addiction?

Does grief cause addiction? Not exactly. However, grief can lead to addiction. Substances like drugs and alcohol can provide a temporary escape from the pain that accompanies grief.

A grieving individual may discover that drugs or alcohol numb the pain and provide a sense of distraction. However, repeatedly using substances to escape from painful thoughts or feelings can quickly lead to the development of a substance use disorder. 

Addiction isn’t always related to grief, but using substances to escape challenging emotions is a strong component of addiction. Treatment programs work by identifying underlying factors and teaching people the skills to process and move through these mental and emotional challenges. 

Warning Signs to Watch For

Grief and substance use can be deeply intertwined. Most addiction treatment programs examine areas of life that have led to substance use, including unresolved grief. Without identifying and working to heal these underlying causes, recovery from addiction is likely to be short-lived. 

It’s normal to experience grief following a loss. However, when the signs of grief last for an extended time or interfere with someone’s responsibilities and overall well-being, they may need professional help to work through their grief. 

Common signs of grief include: 

  • Withdrawal
  • Anger
  • Feeling numb
  • Listlessness or apathy
  • Depression 
  • Anxiety 
  • Difficulty completing tasks
  • Lack of interest in relationships

If you or a loved one are exhibiting signs of grief, a grief therapy program can help. 

Signs of a Developing Addiction

Individuals dealing with grief are at a higher risk of developing a substance use disorder to cope with their thoughts and feelings. 

Signs that someone is developing a substance use disorder as a response to grief include: 

  • Using substances compulsively
  • Beginning to only care about being high or drunk
  • Feeling as though they need substances to cope with daily life
  • Hiding substance use
  • Exhibiting changes in behavior, mood, and physical appearance

Many mental and emotional signs of grief, like social withdrawal, depression, or apathy, can also appear with substance use.

Open Yourself Up to Grief and Addiction Therapy at Promises 

Promises is a leading provider of behavioral health treatment services. We offer grief therapy and addiction treatment programs. At Promises, we understand both grief and addiction have a pervasive negative impact on well-being. 

Healing begins with understanding how grief affects addiction. At Promises, clients can gain insights and new skills with the support of compassionate, experienced behavioral health professionals.

Living with grief and addiction casts a dark shadow over life. At Promises, we help clients move out from under this shadow and re-establish a healthy connection to life and self. 

If you or a loved one needs help healing from grief and addiction, call Promises at 844.875.5609 today.