How to Deal With the Loss of An Addict


When a loved one dies because of drug addiction, there is an overwhelming feeling that, “It shouldn’t have happened.” Death through overdose is preventable, but why was it not prevented? It’s easy to get sucked into the vacuum of self-blame, especially if they didn’t seek drug help uk.


It’s all too common to be angry at the one who died.


It’s not unusual to ask the questions, “How can I cope?” “How can I deal with this?” We wrote this article with your questions in mind. We hope the following tips can help.


1. Journaling using writing, art, and photography

A grief journal helps you articulate your feelings. When you write down words about something you cannot understand, you get better at understanding yourself.


You can start simply by writing a letter to your loved one.


If you do not like writing, you can make an art journal or a photo journal.


In particular, writing in a journal has been found to be effective because it works at a neurological level. When we write something down, we encode our memories in the part of the brain that is also responsible for regulating stress. The hippocampus is the place in the brain where memories—good or bad are stored. When we write in our journal, not only do we recall feelings, we also become better able to regulate them.


When you write something down, you also tap into your creative side. (We explain how creativity is helpful in mourning later on in this article). When you journal, using photos, written work or artwork, you get to clarify, give voice and pay attention to your feelings.  You slow down your speeding thoughts and calm yourself.


A journal also records what you have been experiencing. You can look back to how you have progressed and in what ways in an intimate, personal way. Lastly, when you journal regularly, you establish a routine. We all know how routines can be calming: the regularity and predictability of something is welcome when all you have is the chaos of death.


2. Art activities

Making works of art helps by channeling your creativity into something that can be physically seen, and possibly touched. Here are examples of art activities that can help cope with grief:

Drawing “what grief looks like”

Painting out emotions

Scrapbooking a tribute for the loved one

Making an altar or memory box

Making a self-care kit

Sewing or knitting a memory quilt


3. Use a Smartphone to make a multimedia scrapbook, a photo album, a collection of audio records, a collection of music, and a collection of videos


4. Physical Exercise

There are many, many instances when inspiration strikes when we are out walking our dogs, or when we are biking or hiking. Why is that? When we move our bodies around, we stimulate the hippocampus, which is the area of the brain where memory is stored. The hippocampus is also responsible for regulating stress and strong emotions.

In addition, according to Grief Counsellor Sharon Stallard, “Exercise is a very good and positive tool that people can use while grieving, mainly because it triggers that release of neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine; and the release of endorphins. Exercise helps regulate a person’s mood and can prevent them from going into a low phase which can trigger depression.”

These are good enough reasons to get off that couch.


5. Meditation and Visualisation


There are many downloadable audio recordings available online that are based on the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) technique. Exercises inspired by MBSR have been helpful in alleviating anxiety and depression because they make you conscious of your thoughts.


Many of us think that what we think is uncontrollable and how we think is involuntary. Meditation challenges these assumptions. There are many techniques used in meditation aside from MBSR. What they have in common is when we meditate, we open our hearts to difficult emotions. We can feel them without judging them, or judging ourselves for feeling them.


If you’ve never tried meditation before, ten minutes a day is all that it takes to warm you up to the practice. There are even soundtracks you can use so you won’t doze off in the middle of a session.


Creativity, an antidote for grief

“Psychological well-being” means being able to be in an optimum state in of mind as we live our daily lives. Life is full of ups and downs and we cannot expect ourselves to be happy all the time. Neither should we expect ourselves to be disappointment-free.


Psychologist Martin Seligman suggests that to achieve psychological well-being, we need to be “engaged” in a creative activity we enjoy. What is a creative activity, then, and how do we get engaged in a creative outlet?


Think of something connected to the arts like writing or music or painting. There are “non-artistic” therapeutic activities too like knitting, gardening, and doing crossword puzzles. The important thing is that this activity makes you feel good. This activity should be able to help you come up with new ideas, new ways of thinking about your current situation. You know you are engaged in a creative activity when time drifts by and you don’t even notice it.


Our creative side part of us that allows us to think beyond ourselves, to visualise, to imagine, and to not base what we think and feel based only on the facts and the present moment. Because there is more to your life now than the grief you are feeling.


It might be unimaginable now, but one day, it will feel less of a burden to get out of bed, get dressed and go about your business….as if nothing major has happened. Change does not come all of a sudden; it comes slowly in small increments. Step-by-step you will be able to relearn how to live again, and not just to survive the days that come.…

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Complex Grief from Addiction

If you have a loved one in your life who is an addict, your relationship with him or her is complex. There are roles you play: caretaker, coach, enabler, or simply a presence who’s always there. The interactions between you and the addict are hard to describe in simple terms because the relationship is complicated. There is another party in the middle that has a name. It’s called “Addiction.”

All the emotions that are connected with your relationship-role are as complex as the relationship you had. When your addict loved one dies, what your complicated feelings become harder to understand. You may have the following thoughts,

“I’m so sorry I did not help her more. I wish I did more. I could have saved him if I only I_____________”

“I’m her __________, I should have saved her.”

“I don’t want to admit it, but good riddance, she’s gone. She gave me so much trouble.”


Acute Grief, Normal Grief

For the first few weeks to a month after the death, you are what experts call “the acute grief stage”. At this time, you keep on thinking about your loved one. You may have dreams about this person, you may wish that you are with this person, and there is a constant nagging feeling of loss. It’s an emotionally painful time. You could even feel physically sick during this period. You lose your appetite, you lose your desire to live life. You might have a hard time sleeping, or you may feel like sleeping all day just to forget.


Integrated Grief, Normal Grief

Usually, people move on from the acute stage to the next stage, the integrated grief stage. If you are in this stage, you will feel that the impact of the loss has softened. Slowly, you have come to accept that the person you love is gone. You do not forget this person, but neither are you feeling bewildered that she’s gone. You remember very well the good and bad (and in-between) memories you have with this person…but now the memories are bittersweet because the person is gone.

The grief process is complete when survivors transition from the acute to the integrated stage. There is no exact timeframe because the circumstances surrounding the death and the relationships between the people involved are all different. What is crucial in the completion of the grief experience is the sense that a transition has happened—the surviving spouse, friend, or significant other has integrated the loss into their lives.


Complicated Grief or Prolonged Grief

But then there is “complicated grief” or “prolonged grief”. The American Psychological Association actually considers this type of grieving as an emerging mental health issue.

Addicts usually die of an overdose, and this type of death is unexpected and traumatic. People who experience the loss of a loved one through accidents, violent events, crime, and overdose are more prone to this disorder. To treat complex grief, mental health professionals recommend individual counselling (psychotherapy).


Complicated Grief is not Depression

We must differentiate complicated or prolonged grief with depression. Both conditions need to be treated but in different ways. Both are serious matters that cannot be changed just by “cheering up.” We must be aware though that sometimes grief can trigger depression in people who are already prone to the disorder.


One more thing that needs to mentioned about complex grief, particularly when the loved one is an addict is that there is a social stigma for the people who are left behind. When a loved one dies of an overdose, some people will hurl very insensitive comments. They can go like this,

“She’s an addict, of course, she overdosed. What did you expect to happen?”

“You should have done something about it.”

“He did it to himself.”

“At least you saw it coming.”

Statements like this fuel the blame and shame you may have in the first place. And because there is blame and shame, you don’t want to talk about it. Because you won’t talk about it, the process of grieving is delayed.


Coming out of grief

You are likely to find it harder to deal with your loss because it was all so sudden, and it seems like you have so many unanswered questions. To move forward in your grieving process, it is good to understand what key actions you need to complete.

Psychologist J W Worden, author of the book, Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner  specifies tasks survivors need to accomplish to complete the process of grief:

  1. They need to accept the reality of their loss
  2. They need to work through the pain felt from grief
  3. They need to adjust to living life without their loved one
  4. They need to maintain a connection with their loved one as they move on with their lives.

In addition, these following measures are found to be beneficial in healing complex grief. These activities are most effective when you work with a compassionate counsellor or therapist.

  1. Psychoeducation (knowing about) the grief process
  2. Addressing the loved one with a letter about your life goals and dreams about the future
  3. Having an imaginary conversation with the loved one about how you are going to move on with your life
  4. Cognitive restructuring to overcome the thought that when you move on with your life, you are dishonouring your loved one
  5. Cognitive restructuring to overcome self-blame and self-stigma
  6. Some people also find renewed purpose in life by participating in events that educate others about the realities and dangers of drug addiction.


The process of completing the process of grief is different for everybody.


But survivors of addicted people need forgiveness the most. When blame and shame are present, it is difficult to think that there are people out there who share the same predicament as yours.


There are people out there in the same situation, and most of them can be found on-line (initially). If you take the first step and reach out, things only get easier.…

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The Effect Of Assistance Throughout The Grief Process

Throughout the time of bereavement and the grief procedure, a mourning individual requires a lot of psychological assistance.  The mourning individual should take a trip through the grief procedure, and must be enabled to move through it at their rate. In some cases, this leads to what is understood as complicated grief.

Complex grief

 If what’s thought-about to be “typical mourning” does not take place, or if the mourning goes on for an extended period with no development, it’s called “complex grief” or “unsolved grief”.

For some individuals who are looking after a liked one with a long-lasting health problem, made complex grief can begin while their liked one is still alive. Caretakers under extreme tension, mainly if the outlook is bleak, might be at higher threat of having irregular grief even before the death.

The specific type of mental health treatment has been revealed to assist individuals with complicated pain. Treatment is essential, given that individuals with complicated grief are at danger of their psychological disease becoming worse, and are at a higher risk of devoting suicide.

Managing loss

Preferably, a bereaved individual will have the ability to resolve the procedure of grieving. With time and assistance, they’ll make and accept a sense of loss, resolve the discomfort, and get used to a life without their liked one physically existing.

If you or somebody you understand has lost a liked one, the following pointers might assist you in handling the loss:

Let yourself feel the discomfort and all the other feelings, too. Do not inform yourself how to contact or let others tell you how you need to feel.

Accept that you require to experience your discomfort, your feelings, and your method of recovery − all in your own time. Keep in mind that no one else can inform you how you must grieve or when to stop.

Talk and discover to others who have lost a liked one.

Attempt to preserve your healthy way of life. Do not make any significant life modifications (for instance, moving, altering tasks, altering essential relationships) throughout the very first year of mourning.

Take care of yourself. Permit yourself physical enjoyments that assist you in restoring yourself, like hot baths, naps, and preferred foods.

Seek an appropriate treatment program for specialist help, like Abbeycare’s cocaine detox programme.

Prevent drinking excessive alcohol or utilizing other drugs. This can damage your body along with dull your feelings. It’s likewise most likely to slow your healing and might trigger brand-new issues.

Forgive yourself for all the essential things you did or didn’t do or state. Empathy and forgiveness on your own, and others are essential in recovery.

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