How is Grief Related to Addiction?

The more we learn about ourselves and our addictions, the more we come to see that our addictions are very often our attempts to escape the pain within us that overwhelms us and that we feel is unbearable. One of the sources of our pain that many of us share is that of grief. Our addictions often develop from traumatic experiences, and sustaining loss can be one of the most painful forms of trauma we experience in life. Our addictions can be a direct response to our grief. They can be the coping mechanisms we turn to when we can’t deal with our grief in healthy ways.

The pain of losing our loved ones stays with us long after they’ve left us. Our emotions are forms of energy that are circulating through us, throughout our minds, hearts, souls, bodies and spirits. The energy of grief doesn’t go away once when we’ve buried our loved one, or when we’ve gone back to our regular routine. Our grief can stay with us for years, even lifetimes. Losing someone is painful not only because we loved and cared for that person deeply, but also because it brings up difficult fears within us – fear of abandonment, fear of being alone, fear of loss. We are forced to confront these fears, but very often we don’t have healthy ways of coping with our pain and our fear, so we turn to the things that help alleviate our pain in the moment.

Many of us also have the energy of self-destructiveness within us, so the coping mechanisms we choose don’t support us in coping with our pain in healthy ways. They instead become tools for further self-destruction. We feel we can’t cope with the pain of our grief, so we find outlets to distract ourselves from it, and very often these become our addictive behaviors.

Over time, the energy of our unhealed grief stays within us, cycling through us, causing us to have intense emotional responses of deep sadness, anger and anxiety. Our addictive behaviors compound these emotions because we’re not processing them in healthy ways – we’re simply burying them underneath more pain. Very often we cause ourselves even more grief. We form unhealthy relationships that create more sadness for us, and the loss of them is extremely painful, causing ourselves more grief on top of the unhealed original grief.

Recovery means looking closely at ourselves, our unhealed grief, and the emotional and behavioral patterns we develop to cope with our grief.

We’re here to help. Call (800) 871-5440 for information on how we can support you in your recovery.