What is the Grieving Process of Recovery?

When we are approaching recovery, we have many things to look forward to, and although we may have anxiety about what the future holds, we also can have very positive, hopeful expectations of what’s to come. We’ll be sober, freeing up our energy which will allow us to create the space we need to find happiness and fulfillment. What we sometimes don’t realize is that along with our anticipation and hope, there can also be a grieving process during recovery. We’re saying goodbye not only to our addictive substances but also to our entire way of life. Our routines, our lifestyles, our relationships and our experiences are all wrapped up in our addictions, so when we’re letting them go, we’re also releasing important parts of ourselves, some of which can be very hard to let go of.

One thing many of us grieve in our sobriety are our relationships. We had romantic partnerships, friendships, and relationships with family members that were fueled by our addictions. In these relationships, oftentimes we share our addictions with our loved one. We’re both actively using or engaging in addictive behaviors. We enable and worsen each other’s dependence. We are part of what is fueling each other’s addictive cycles. The relationships themselves can be addictive, and we become needy, obsessive, compulsive and possessive with one another. Some of us identify as love/sex addicts and find our relationships to be what we are most attached to and dependent upon. It is often our relationships that are hurting us. They become one of our tools for self-destruction, one of our misguided coping mechanisms, part of our self-sabotage.

While recovering, we may decide we have to separate ourselves from these people. Sometimes the people who don’t have our best interest at heart will distance themselves when we make the decision to recover. When we choose healing, we know that we can no longer hold onto the relationships that contribute to our addictions and to our overall unhappiness and lack of well-being. We make the conscious decision to prioritize peace of mind and serenity, and we choose to remove the turmoil and toxicity from our lives, however it might present itself. This can mean having to let go of people who are very important to us, people we love, and who love us. This can naturally prompt us to undergo a grieving process, where we are mourning the loss of that love, along with our hopes and dreams for a future with that person. We can experience sadness, feelings of hopelessness, anxiety and depression.

Knowing more about the different stages of the recovery process, including the grief period, can help us to prepare ourselves for these unique challenges that may arise. The more educated we are, the better equipped we are to succeed in our recovery.

Riverside Recovery is a drug and alcohol treatment center offering a full continuum of care for people suffering from addiction and co-occurring mental health disorders. We understand the emotional challenges of addiction recovery and are here to support you. Call us today for more information: (800) 871-5440.