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Grief/Loss Therapy in the Treatment of Addictions

Grief/Loss Therapy in the Treatment of AddictionsHow you deal with your losses determines your ability to live a full, healthy life. When in grief, you are in the depths of hopelessness and helplessness. A Center for Addiction Recovery's team of therapists will provide you with the tools and strategies necessary for you to recover and emerge as a healthier, stronger person--capable of dealing with the infinite possibilities of the universe.

A non-traditional tool, very effective with clients prone to chronic relapse, is Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' Cycle of Grief and Loss. Her research and writings has been adapted as a cognitive tool for processing healing of all losses, and it is adopted in our recovery programs.

Kublar-Ross Identifies Five Stages of Grief:

(Here is a simplified overview to each stage using the loss of substance abuse, alcohol and/or drugs, as an example.)

1. Denial
Denial is a term that is often associated with addicts prior to going into treatment. Marked by feelings associated with shock, disbelief and numbness.

2. Bargaining
"What if I drink only on the weekends." We all have heard, or dealt with, the alcoholic that wants to prove that alcohol is not a problem for him/her. So they vow to only drink on weekends, but will easily slip into the rest of the week. This is common for alcoholics and others suffering from addiction, and should be avoided when possible.

3. Anger
Interventions often moves the addict to this stage. As the addict is forced to enter treatment, they begin to redirect their anger to themselves for allowing 'this to happen' to them. Blaming others, a characteristic of addict's behavior, manifests even greater at this stage.

4. Sadness/Depression
In this stage the individual is exhausted from denial, sick of being angry, and finally starts to really feel the pain. Often the addict will teeter between anger and depression.

5. Acceptance
In this state: there is a void of feelings, the pain is gone, the struggle is over, the individual feels "centered", adjustments /reorganization occurs, the individual is FREE and ready to move on.

It can take a long time for someone in recovery to reach "acceptance." Part of the problem is that losses of all kinds are happening all the time, day-in and day-out. In addition to helping the addict work through their major loss of their substance of choice, they must also recognize that life goes on and losses will continue to occur: possibility of a marriage break-up, kids leave home, death of loved ones, etc. Perhaps for the first time in his/her life, the addict has to "feel," learn to act instead of react, and not hide behind a substance; the artificial world they created with their addiction suddenly becomes reality. The important fact that A Center for Addiction Recovery emphasizes in recovery is that if the cycle is allowed to happen, each time the loss cycles through the filter, a little more of the pain is caught, and they will emerge stronger.