Does Grief Plays a Huge Role in Alcoholism?

A man sitting at a bar.

Losing a parent, spouse, child, or even a close friend can lead people into addiction. You take one drink, and then another. One night of grieving with a glass or bottle in your hand turns into a weekend, a week, then a month, then years. All the while, the people around you are grieving twice over. First, for their loss, then for the loss of you.

Addiction, but specifically alcoholism, creeps up on people unsuspectedly.  All too often, what is initially a coping mechanism becomes a trigger, it feels a need to drink, and it pulls people into the undertow of depression. It is a hard fact, but alcohol doesn’t make anyone feel better through their grief. It masks it and makes the sensation and struggles a longer road than necessary.

If you need help fighting an addiction contact Rehab Carolinas today.

Drunks That Dive to Dark Places

Grief doesn’t always stem from the loss of a person. Many alcoholics will go to dark places and grieve for other elements of their life that they’ve lost. He may know someone who mourns after divorce or a past relationship.

The common element with alcoholics that immediately go into dark places is that they are looking to numb or justify the events they experienced. One person may say I went ten years without speaking to my parents because of some of the irrelevant factors.

A man sitting at a bar.

That same person, when drinking, will elaborate and build into a very dark frame of mind because they are grieving that relationship.

For sober people, it’s easy to identify that this isn’t healthy. However, for alcoholics, this seems like the only healthy outlet for their pent-up feelings. Through getting sober within a facility, you can access therapy and help to process the losses you’ve experienced in your life.

Drinking to Numb the Loss or Guilt

The trouble with alcohol is that it feels like such a relief. You drink and then those bad thoughts, those feelings, they all seem to melt away. But they don’t. Yes, your brain gets foggy, you can reprioritize, but ultimately you’re ignoring a problem that won’t just go away.

Then there’s the matter of alcohol acting as a depressant. The impact that alcohol has on your body only perpetuates the cycle of depression. It dehydrates your body, causes you to sleep more but less deeply, and when you wake up, you feel terrible. Addiction to alcohol isn’t relief. It’s a mask. It’s numbing the underlying problem for now. But, the moment you’re sober, there it is, your guilt or loss waiting for you.

It’s the Go-To Coping Mechanism

It isn’t just you, cultures across the world turn to alcohol as a coping mechanism for grief. They drink together. They celebrate or mourn. Drinking in grief has become so normalized that often people don’t realize that it’s perpetuating alcoholism. Essentially we’re teaching people from a very young age that when they grieve, they should drink.

Can These People Get Support?

Absolutely, the connection between grief and alcoholism is not new at all. AA, rehabilitation centers, and much more make it clear that grief support must be handled differently for people that have grief weighing on them. You need someone who can understand that the immediate need is for increased coping mechanisms that also divert you away from alcohol.

Because of the normalcy of drinking during grief, you may need additional support from a sober community. A collection of people who understand, can sympathize, and not drink or use in front of you. That’s hard to find without entering some type of program. As you build your confidence to begin a sober life, consider what you want or need from a program. Do you have grief or a history of loss? Even if you feel that you’ve moved past it, you may need additional help.

Getting Help from Rehab Carolinas

Anyone with a drinking problem or addiction should seek help, and anyone with outlying grief needs therapy and counseling. However, when you have both together, it is even harder for these people to get into the right treatment center—having someone on staff that understands grief, trauma, and the appropriate handling of those challenges with addiction.

At Rehab Carolinas, we pull on a variety of different resources and create individualized treatment plans. The result is that you can confront your grief and your addiction while remaining at home and staying with your family. Outpatient care doesn’t have to be so flexible that recovery seems impossible; in fact, it’s the opposite. We encourage our patients to go through their everyday lives and struggles while building a better road for recovery.

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