Substance abuse and addiction are often direct consequences of trying to control negative feelings through drugs. This fact is especially true when it comes to addiction triggers, such as feeling sadness or grief, because these problems can trigger drug cravings. In other words, powerful emotions can tempt people to keep using or resume abusing drugs.
However, someone in addiction rehab can control her cravings, because she is in a supervised environment and has the support of counselors and other patients in treatment. On the other hand, the real danger is when negative feelings from loss and grief occur after recovery begins, or even after someone finishes a treatment program. The effects of such overwhelming emotions and not knowing how to resolve them may result in relapse.
Controlling Addiction Triggers Through Grief Counseling
It is easy to see the connection between grief and addiction; after all, grief is a deep sense of sorrow after the loss of something valuable or cherished, and drug abuse is often seen as an easy way out of such feelings. However, grief that lingers too long or destroys other parts of life should not be dismissed. Severe or persistent grief may require more support, because symptoms of grief include the following problems:
- Uncontrollable crying
- Low productivity
When the symptoms are pervasive and interrupt everyday activities, then it is recommended that the sufferer receives professional help. Regarding triggers, a psychologist from UCLA states that issues that remind people about drug use play can trigger addiction. The paper uses the following examples of memory triggers:
- People with whom you formerly used drugs
- The music you usually listened to
- Seeing syringes or other instruments of drug abuse
- Being in a place where you used to do drugs
A trigger might also involve a specific environment or dealing with an unexpected event, so that is why loss and grief counseling are common practices in rehab, particularly in group therapy. According to the US National Library of Medicine, socializing techniques (such as learning to disconnect from feelings of loss and grief) are taught in many support groups to give participants a way to avoid cravings that could lead them to a devastating relapse.
One of the strategies that former addicts learn is to act fast whenever feelings of grief may turn into a trigger. There are some first-step actions people can take to cope with such events in healthier ways rather than resorting to drugs. For example, some recovery centers and support groups encourage people to have sobriety sponsors. The idea of this type of support is to have someone who is available to give encourage sobriety during symptoms of grief. Sponsors act as a friend who can help provide the determination to stay clean even when the going gets tough.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse describes other first-step examples for whenever a trigger is becoming a problem. One of these acts involves having a list of activities that may work as a distraction from the craving. This task is effective, because activities such as playing sports, engaging in family activities or doing some work can be relaxing or fun when such stimulation is needed. These activities help people take action even if they feel surrounded by negative feelings. Another example is positive self-talk. The effectiveness of this last method relies in identifying and fighting arguments such as, “I need a drug now” with others beliefs like, “I will be better without it.”
For times when feelings seem overwhelming, the best option is to seek the help of a professional therapist or drug counselor, because these professionals help patients assess where they are in recovery. Afterwards, they can develop recovery plans to stay clean during any problem. These workers can also recommend the next step in recovery, which means patients can process and overcome the emotions to proceed with more specific forms of therapy.
Addiction Help that Targets Grief and Addiction
A fundamental element of recovery lies in finding and dealing with underlying causes of substance abuse and compulsive behavior. When it comes to addiction, it is important to find out if grief is triggering relapse, but, in a similar manner, addiction can be responsible for a disturbed mental state. Recovery options such as the ones offered in Dual Diagnosis treatment are especially designed to deal with co-occurring disorders in a separated yet focused manner.
We understand how stressful it might be to find addiction help for you or someone who is close to you and struggling with substance abuse or a mental health disorder. For that reasons, we have a toll-free, 24 hour helpline with free assistance and advice. Our treatment specialists are prepared to answer your questions regarding treatment options, intervention services, Dual Diagnosis treatment, family counseling and where to find such services at the best values. Give recovery a chance and call at your earliest convenience.