Many addicts in the early stages of recovery will experience grief and a sense of profound loss. Robert Weiss LCSW, recently published a thought provoking article about the role of grief and loss in addiction recovery.
Weiss suggests that addicts and family members in the early stages of recovery may not have considered the strong role that the grief process plays in their experience. While there are obvious times when we consider grief to be a natural reaction to life circumstances, like when someone has died or moved away, but the experience of grief is not only stimulated by losing loved ones or possessions. Grief is also engaged when someone loses a way of living or a way of looking at themselves which had been a way of life. In the process of recovering from an addiction, grief emerges in reaction to the intense changes taking place in an individual and in a family as the addiction problem is addressed.
Rituals, relationships, feeling good and freedoms once enjoyed are just a few of the losses an addict in recovery might be experiencing. Their partners, or spouses, may also be struggling with losses, such as their previous role in the relationship, loss of predictability, loss of happiness and even loss of time, while their loved one invests time in their recovery. Understanding and accepting this process of grieving helps recovery to be less of a mystery.
Recovery is a lengthy process which often can bring painful emotional and circumstantial realities forward in the early stages before the more comforting and feel-good benefits take place. Part of recovery is allowing long hidden secrets to be disclosed and long-buried disappointments and fears to be revealed.
There are many organizations, groups and therapists who specialize in addiction recovery and support and comfort for the addict or their family members can also be found through these organizations or with the support of grief and loss specialists.