In life, it is inevitable that you will cope with grief and loss. It can come in different forms, ranging from divorce and job loss to dealing with the death of a loved one. You may even experience grief if you are diagnosed with a serious disease like cancer. People going through these kinds of events in their lives are especially susceptible to addiction. Even when coping with loss, it is important to keep taking care of yourself, and not to turn to drugs and alcohol to numb out your pain.
Why Do Grieving People Turn to Drugs and Alcohol?
People coping with loss are going through an emotionally challenging time in their lives, no matter what kind of loss it may be. To many people, it is an easier option to numb the pain with drugs and alcohol than to face it sober. They get a false sense of safety when they are under the influence, when in fact, it is one of the worst things they can do.
If a person has had a problem with addiction in the past, going through a grieving process can make them return right back to their drug of choice. It’s an easy trigger for relapse, and also an excuse for an addict to pick up again. They may feel that the event they are going through is too much to handle without the aid of mood-altering substances, and justify their behavior internally.
No matter what kind of grief someone is going through, it can simply be too much for a person to bear. It is important to seek professional help if it comes to this point so that you don’t get desperate and turn to self-medicating.
Why Turning To Drugs and Alcohol Doesn’t Work
Turning to drugs and alcohol when coping with loss is never a good idea. It may temporarily take away some of the pain you feel, but that pain will inevitably come back tenfold once you sober up. Getting high or drinking can also have a negative impact on other people grieving the same loss, such as family members and friends. They now have to deal with your addiction in addition to the loss they already have.
Drug and alcohol addiction spirals out of control fast. And, if an addict has an excuse to use, it’ll go that much faster. The problem with dealing with grief this way is that it will never fix the problem, it will just mask the underlying issue. No matter which way you hide from it, you’ll eventually have to deal with it, and possibly your addiction too.
Drugs and alcohol can also make things that much worse for a person. Think about how many people you know who get drunk and show their “true” emotions. You are rolling the dice when you get high or drunk while grieving. You may forget things for a while, or you may feel them even worse. If you feel them intensely, you’re likely to act out in an uncharacteristic way, and can hurt yourself or someone you love. It isn’t worth it, and seeking out other outlets for your grief is important.
Coping with Loss in a Healthy Way
When a person is dealing with loss, it’s hard to think clearly and make wise decisions. No matter how desperate you may feel, turning to drugs and alcohol is never the best solution. Here are some ways you can cope with loss in a healthier way:
- Talk to a therapist. They can help you work through your emotions and answer questions about how you are feeling. They are professionals who deal with these kinds of things all the time and know how to help.
- Allow yourself to grieve. Hiding or masking emotions might temporarily work, but when you don’t deal with them, they’ll eventually resurface. When the emotions resurface, it can be a bad situation. If you are caught off guard, you may have trouble managing your feelings.
- Pick up a healthy hobby. From yoga to painting, there are many different outlets that can help you channel the emotion of your grief. Having something to focus your energy on can get you out of your head in a healthy way. And, you’ll have something that brings you pleasure at the same time.
- Care for yourself. From eating right and exercising to doing things that bring you pleasure, make sure to give yourself plenty of self-care. You are going through enough while coping with loss, so make sure to treat yourself like gold.
- Focus on being your best self. Unfortunately, we can’t change the past. It is best to remain focused on moving forward when dealing with loss. Do all the things in the bullet points above, and focus on moving forward in the healthiest way possible
Loss of any kind is never easy. Turning to drugs and alcohol to cope is never a good solution. If that feels like the only option for you, talk to a trusted friend or family member about getting help before it is too late.