Grief is perhaps the strangest of symptoms of giving up one’s addiction. After all, that addiction has caused nothing but serious trouble, extreme mental and emotional pain and major loss. Friends, lovers, family, freedom, health, assets, self-respect and so much more. Surely therefore, leaving addiction behind should be a cause for joy, celebration and hope. That would be the logic. Sadly, the emotions of human beings rarely follow simple logic!
Our use of chemicals started being joyful and exciting. We tried many. We preferred a few. We chose one particular drug above all. We would use others when necessary, but generally settled into a using pattern of familiar drugs and familiar routines. This sounds very much like a how love affairs with people evolve, does it not? And that is the key. We fall in love with our chemicals, and keep going back to them regardless of the consequences. It is a total, intense, longstanding and highly emotional form of co-dependence. For many of us, it actually comes to define our very existence.
So when we are faced with letting go of our addiction, we enter the grief cycle that follows the end of any relationship. And in this case it is intense, and impacts our mental and emotional state immensely while in treatment. Keeping it simple, the grief cycle involves five distinct stages.
Easy and simple, yes? 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Job done. Not really, as being the complex individuals we are, and addiction being the cunning and powerful adversary we face, the progression through the grief cycle is interrupted by our emotions jumping back and forth from one stage to another with regularity!
During your stay at SafeHouse, we will help you identify which stage you are in and will help you work through it via counselling, group therapy and letting you fully exclaim how you FEEL about things. Daily, hourly, every minute if that’s what it takes. The grief cycle plays a huge part in your demeanour in rehab, and it is therefore very important that we understand what you are going through, and indulge it. This we do, absolutely, until the negative feelings associated with grief are slowly replaced with the positivity of hope and acceptance.
It is inevitable that the addict or alcoholic entering recovery also enters the grief cycle. It is equally inevitable that with the right professional help, that same person will reach the acceptance needed. It happens after bereavement; it happens after a broken love affair; it absolutely happens after addiction and alcoholism.