GRIEF AND LOSS THERAPY
Many different experiences can cause unresolved grief. One is when a person feels guilt over a loss, considers a death unfair, or has lost a loved one in a sudden, traumatic, or unexpected manner. Another cause can be through a personally traumatic loss that others might not consider as severe, such as miscarriage. The loss of employment, relationships, social standing, health, and finances all can also trigger a grief reaction.
A condition known as known as “complicated grief” can occur when Individuals become stuck in their grief and have what is also known as complicated bereavement, prolonged grief, traumatic grief or pathologic grief.
A person may become more vulnerable to developing a drug addiction or alcoholism when dealing with unresolved grief and depression. If someone is unable to work through their feelings of loss in a healthy way, or refuse to process the event, they may self-medicate, turning to drugs or alcohol to help relieve the emotional and mental suffering. While these substances might temporarily relieve or numb the grief or loss-induced pain, the effect is short lived and has detrimental side effects.
Unfortunately, self-medicating with substances will not remove the pain of loss. In fact, alcohol and drug abuse may further increase the depression, anxiety, mood swings, irritability, sleep disorders that are associated with a grief or loss reaction. Substances often increase negative emotions, such as shame or sadness, and can perpetuate the drug or alcohol user into an endless and spiraling cycle of endless self-abuse. Additionally, substance abuse complicates many aspects of life, from the ability to maintain employment to the quality of personal relationships. Self-medicating through alcohol or drugs can induce negative emotions and cause conflicts that make it more difficult to process grief in a healthy way. Ironically, when one who is addicted to drugs and/or alcohol uses these substances to relieve discomfort, the discomfort and unmanageability of the exact situation that the user wishes to relive oftentimes worsens.
Other risk factors that increase the possibility for substance abuse during the grieving process include a history of depression, anxiety, previous substance abuse, or a lack of relational support. Those with a family history of substance use disorders are more vulnerable as well.
Treatment Goals of Grief Therapy
• Facilitate the improved ability to accept and adapt to loss
• Discern and resolve the blocks that are impeding healing and growth
• Identify and bring resolve to trauma associated with loss
• Come to terms with loss and accept its finality
• Recognize and promote the use of personal strengths and resources
• Strengthen positive emotions and reduce negative emotions (in both frequency and intensity)
• Strengthen and encourage healthy relationships and interpersonal connections
• Restore and strengthen a sense of hopefulness
• Rediscover the truly important things that make life worthwhile and meaningful
• Explore healthy ways to maintain a sense of connectedness
It does not take a major loss, such as that of a relationship to experience significant grief and loss issues. Losses such as financial resources, physical health, self-esteem, social status and many others can lead to depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. To learn more, call us 24/7 on a confidential line at 800-683-4457.
BEHAVIORAL WELLNESS & RECOVERY
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