A common experience that causes people turn to drugs and alcohol is when they’ve lost someone. When a loved one passes away, when there’s a divorce, or when a friend commits suicide, the absence of that person in one’s life can create incredible inner challenge.
Whenever we are faced with emotional turmoil and we are unsure what to do about it, regardless of the situation, one of the most effective steps to take is to get support. You might get support through doing your own research on the topic, calling a therapist, talking to someone you trust, or journaling out your feelings. When life gets challenging, there’s no reason to face it alone, get the support you need.
Below are some forms of support when you’re faced with grief and loss. Having support will help prevent the urge to turn to drinking or drug use.
- Become familiar with the stages of grief and find out where you stand. The understanding of grief can be helpful in knowing where you are in a process that is becoming better and better understood by grief experts. Although there are a handful of different theories on grief, one popular one is that posed by Elizabeth Kubler Ross. She outlined five distinct stages to the grieving process based on her long-time work with her own clients. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Knowing this can help you identify where you are and what stages you may have to yet go through. At the same time, it’s important to know that you might weave in and out of the stages, returning to some even though you’ve already advanced to others stages.
- Talk to others who are also grieving from the loss. When you have others with whom you can share the same feelings, you feel validated for feeling the way you do. You might also feel supported versus feeling isolated in the sadness, which is a common trigger to rely on substances. Sometimes, the pain gets too heavy and you might not know how to manage it. Yet, having friends or family who also experience the depth of grief you do can provide support, connection, and validation in your process.
- Do something that honors the life of the person you lost. Light a candle for the person you lost as a way to facilitate grieving. Depending on where you are in the grieving process, this may or may not sound appealing. However, at other times, you may find it very helpful to spend some time honoring your loved one’s life. Doing so can facilitate the healing process; it might make the heaviness of the loss a bit lighter.
- Make a list of what you can do to facilitate your own grieving process. Perhaps you need to read books about losing a spouse or what to do when you finally lose a parent. You might need to spend significant time alone. Or you may need to go on a long vacation, giving yourself time to relax and process the loss versus working right through the sadness. Lastly, you might decide to get a therapist as a way to help you work through the grieving process. Make a list for yourself that includes what you think you might need during this time.
These are suggestions for getting support when you’re facing grief and loss. It’s especially important to get help during recovery in order to avoid relapse and the use of unhealthy coping tools. When you’re facing emotional turmoil, such as in grief, find others who can assist you through the process of healing.
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