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Coping with Loss in Addiction Recovery


Loss affects everyone differently, but for those in addiction recovery, it can be a turning point. It can mean the difference between continuing to move forward in recovery or falling into relapse. How you deal with loss can make all the difference. Sometimes loss is physical, such as losing a person or item, and other times it is the loss of relationships, control, or other non-tangibles. In any case, it can put you in a tough spot and challenge you to make choices.

There are several types of loss you may experience in addiction recovery, but they don’t have to keep you down.

  • Loss of Control: You may feel as though you’re no longer in control when you’re at a drug and alcohol rehab in San Diego, but you are. The structure and routine you experience is helping you to regain control over your own life and your decisions. Sometimes you have to put your trust in others to equip you with the tools and resources you need and support you in building yourself back up. There’s nothing wrong with asking for or accepting help. Realize that it is making you stronger.
  • Loss of Relationships: Part of recovery is making tough choices. If the friends you used to associate with are still in active addiction and not committed to recovery, then it’s in your best interest to cut ties. You may feel like you’re losing part of who you are, but you are opening yourself up to making new friends and starting healthier relationships. In recovery you will meet people you might otherwise never have known, and they can have a positive influence on your life. Change isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
  • Loss of Self: Without substance use, you may have trouble figuring out who you are. You have more time on your hands and a clearer frame of mind. Use this as an opportunity to explore new interests and find what makes you happy. Try out different activities or hobbies, strive to advance in your career, and figure out who you want to be now that you’re in recovery.
  • Loss of Routine: In the past, your days were probably filled with figuring out when, where, and how you could use drugs or alcohol. Now that you’ve broken this routine, you have to establish new routines. It’s important to fill your days with more constructive activities and healthier habits. Not having too much downtime in early recovery is a good thing because it can help prevent boredom that can lead to relapse.

All of these losses can be turned into gains. They force you to look at things from a different perspective and find the silver lining. Be grateful for the opportunity to turn your life around and to be able to pursue the future you want for yourself.

However, you can also experience other kinds of loss in recovery, such as the passing of a friend or family member. These types of loss can put a strain on your recovery and your emotions. It’s important not to let them throw you off track, however.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Turn to someone you can trust such as a therapist or counselor and be honest about your feelings and thoughts. Avoid the temptation to try to push them off to the side and not deal with them because it seems easier. Working through these feelings of grief can prevent you from turning to drugs or alcohol as a way of coping.

Attend more support group meetings. When you’re going through tough times, don’t underestimate the strength you can gain from support group meetings. Connecting with others who have been through similar situations and are in recovery themselves can be beneficial. Find out how they coped and don’t be afraid to share your story.

Try something new. Sometimes a change in routine can be good to help you overcome loss. Instead of falling back into a rut of the familiar – which can put you at risk for relapse – embrace some of the new strategies and tools you learned in treatment. Sign up for an art class, join a zumba class, start volunteering, or spend time connecting with loved ones. Find healthier ways of reducing stress, anxiety, and depression that won’t serve as triggers for relapse or lead to temptation.

Loss can help you to grow and change. It can make you feel more appreciative for the people and opportunities you do have in your life. Don’t let loss throw you into a tailspin and lose focus on everything you’ve been working toward. Reach out for help and realize that there is hope in recovery.

If you’re ready for change and to overcome addiction, contact Chapters Capistrano at 888-973-0230. Our highly trained staff will work with you along each step of the way and support you in your recovery goals.