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Individuals with a history of substance abuse have an increased risk of experiencing severe symptoms of grief after losing a loved one. According to Frontiers in Psychology, individuals “with [substance use disorder] (SUD) often report personal losses in their life histories that make recovery difficult, and are more vulnerable to report complications in bereavement after the loss of a significant individual.” Many people with SUD experience complicated grief (CG) after losing a loved one. West Coast Recovery Centers helps those recovering from a loss using a combination of therapy and peer support. 

Recovering From a Loss During Addiction Treatment

Rehabilitation programs provide clients with a safe space to express themselves and healthily explore grief. Recovering from a loss during treatment allows people to go through the mourning process with a support system at their side. The care team uses a trauma-informed approach to treatment, ensuring clients feel heard, understood, and supported. 

Taking Advantage of Peer Support and Therapy

Grief and loss impact a person’s overall wellness. As stated in the online publication titled Grief Reaction and Prolonged Grief Disorder by authors Mughal, Azhar, Mahon, & Siddiqui, “Even temporary grieving can affect patients both physically and mentally, and it is best to have mental health providers involved in the care early on . . . some patients may benefit from counseling or the temporary use of pharmacotherapy.” Individual and group therapy sessions allow clients to process their grief and find positive ways to manage the effects of loss. 

Positive peer interactions and therapy help people heal from grief by doing the following: 

  • Providing a supportive space for expressing grief 
  • Reducing isolation and feelings of loneliness 
  • Allowing them to process loss at their own pace 
  • Providing access to a safe and nonjudgmental community 

Everyone responds to loss differently. Peer engagement, therapy, and prescription medications offer clients the time, space, and support to work through their grief without putting pressure on them to move forward before they feel ready. 

Why Is Recovering From a Loss Harder for Some Individuals With SUD?

According to the previously mentioned article by Frontiers in Psychology, “Sometimes, when coping strategies are deficient, bereaved people can easily develop complications in bereavement, which is associated with multiple physical and mental problems that cause social disruption and significantly reduce quality of life,” including substance abuse. Often, individuals with SUD have fewer emotional and practical coping skills to help them manage the overwhelming feelings associated with grief. In addition, some clients may not have a support system outside of treatment. Multiple factors contribute to a person’s ability to manage their grief without experiencing mental health issues. West Coast Recovery Centers provides clients with the tools to address their loss. 

The Physical Effects of SUD Impact Recovery After a Loss

Abstaining from substances causes temporary hormonal imbalances and other physical changes in the body, making it more difficult for some people to cope with loss. According to Addiction, “Individuals with [substance use disorder (SUD)] have been shown to have higher levels of negative emotionality, with some evidence suggesting impairment in emotion regulation compared with individuals without [SUD].” 

Some of the known side effects of SUD impacting emotion regulation include: 

  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Extreme mood swings 
  • Brain changes affecting emotional responses 
  • Anxiety
  • Depressive episodes

Individuals who experience less restful sleep and emotional dysregulation may have more severe reactions to the loss of a loved one. Physical health issues also directly impact a person’s emotional well-being. Treatment programs provide clients with services to improve mental and physical health, thus reducing the side effects of complex grief during recovery from substance abuse. 

How Does West Coast Recovery Centers Help Clients Heal From Loss?

Therapy, peer support, and structured care at West Coast Recovery Centers help clients recover from loss and grief. People feel less alone during the grieving period if they have a supportive community providing encouragement, motivation, and inspiration. Individuals struggling with complex grief or other effects of a significant loss can rely on their care team to help them develop skills to process the event. Everyone heals from grief differently. Personalized care plans give people access to the services they need to feel valued and heard. The compassionate care team at West Coast Recovery Centers has decades of combined experience guiding clients through challenging moments in recovery. 

Recovering From a Loss Takes Time, Patience, and Self-Care

Loss affects all areas of a person’s life. Recovering from the loss of a loved one takes time and self-care. Practicing regular self-care ensures people avoid falling into maladaptive behaviors that may trigger a relapse or other complications during recovery. 

Some examples of self-care include: 

  • Creating a healthy support system 
  • Finding positive ways to memorialize the loss 
  • Engaging with peers and loved ones to reduce social isolation
  • Using art or other mediums to express deep emotions related to loss

Grief and loss support groups at West Coast Recovery Centers also provide additional comfort and guidance for people in recovery. Clinicians use cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and other forms of psychotherapy to provide helpful insights and advice for overcoming the loss of a loved one.

Everyone experiences loss at some point in their lives. Individuals diagnosed with substance use disorder have a higher risk of experiencing complicated grief after the loss of a loved one or other major life event. Treatment programs must address the effects of loss and grief to help people heal and find positive ways to move forward in recovery. West Coast Recovery Centers helps clients heal by using trauma-informed and evidence-based therapies, including cognitive-behavioral therapy. The care team develops a deep bond of trust with clients to ensure they feel comfortable expressing themselves and processing the loss in individual or group therapy. To learn more about our programs and services, call us today at (760) 492-6509.

West Coast Recovery Centers ( 370135CP), Valid through July 31, 2025
Jackson House Visalia (540056AP), Valid through May 15, 2025
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