The Correlation between Substance Abuse and Grief

The Correlation between Substance Abuse and Grief

Statistics of Substance Abuse

Currently, there are over 20 million people in the United States who are both active and former addicts. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), from 2000 to 2015, more than half a million individuals died from drug overdoses. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.  In 2017, the number of opiate overdose deaths has jumped to 144 per day.  Addiction plays a multi-faceted role in how it affects society.  Not only is it detrimental for the abuser’s overall health and risk of developing disease, it affects incarceration rates, vehicle accidents, employment and the overall financial burden placed on the government and health insurers.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse has estimated that the annual financial burden to be in excess of $78.5 billion, including the costs of healthcare, lost productivity, addiction treatment, and criminal justice involvement.

How Grief can lead to Substance Abuse

How Grief can lead to Substance Abuse
How Grief can lead to Substance Abuse

Grief is a complex topic matter.  There are many stages that an individual who is grieving goes through.  Many a time, this can become overwhelming for the individual, and an escape (drugs and alcohol) is often sought out.  These escapes are often temporary and just help to numb the pain.

The Grief Model experienced by many Substance Abusers

The Grief Model experienced by many Substance Abusers
The Grief Model experienced by many Substance Abusers

Expect shock and disbelief as the first stage. Most notably the person will be very still and quiet as if they have turned into a statue. Some people sit down upon hearing bad news and stare blankly. Expect denial as the second stage. The person or the situation as if it has been relayed to them incorrectly often using phrases such as: “That can’t be true.  Expect anger as the third stage. Depending on the person, or the nature of the event, intensity of anger can vary. Some will use a more verbal expression while others revert to physical anger smashing objects or physical abuse to themselves or others.  Expect bargaining as the fourth stage. The person might try to beg and plead, with God or with a friend This is a time where their self-control and willpower will be tested the most. As a friend, it is essential that you are there for them and objectively help them with their best interests in mind.  Expect guilt as the fifth stage. This could be guilt towards actions they did not take before the event occurred or even some of the actions they took while in the stages of mourning. Often accompanied by crying, this stage is more of self-reflecting time. Expect sorrow or depression as the sixth stage. While depression is apparent through all the stages they are often overshadowed by other emotions. This is a time where little details or statements can send a person in a frenzy of tears or seclusion from their peers. Expect acceptance as the seventh stage. It may seem like the person is emerging from a cave. it is important to recognize that they are trying to reintroduce themselves into the real world after their mourning. The person my not entirely outgoing or into late night partying, but after some more time they will be back to themselves.

Coping Strategies for Grieving Substance Abusers

Coping with losing a loved one is one of life’s great difficulties. If you have experienced the pain of mourning, you know that any way to ease the loss is welcomed. It’s important to note that not everyone grieves in the same way and some get stuck in a certain stage: We have individual patterns and different outlets for grief. There has also been research on stages of grief—but people do not always experience these stages in any particular order, nor do they experience every stage. In the worst cases, there are individuals who suffer more severe grief, known as prolonged grief and formerly complicated grief, which can last up to months. This form of grief can pave the way to isolation, chronic loneliness, drug/alcohol use and ultimately addiction.

Commonalities of Grief Amongst Substance Abusers

Grief is an intense emotion, we experience it at our darkest moments. It can be extremely painful, and our denial of this pain can be strong. Consciously or unconsciously, we may hide our grief or push it away, with lack of coping. Unfortunately, this doesn’t get rid of grief. Emotions are complex and must be dealt, faced and healed. Untouched emotions and grief can cause us to use drugs and alcohol in order to forget and ignore. Using these substances can then become a crutch that turns into addiction. You may even ty to replace a person with a drug/alcohol addiction.

Treatment Options for People Grieving at Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

Detox of South Florida
Detox of South Florida

Detox of South Florida, Inc. is a world-renowned inpatient detoxification facility that provides drug addiction services and drug addiction treatment.  This drug treatment center deals with grieving patients who suffer from a variety of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder amongst others.  They treat

these secondarily to behavioral health diagnoses such as Opioid dependence, benzodiazepine dependence, alcohol dependence, and amphetamine dependence to name a few.  This Drug rehabilitation center provides alcohol treatment services, cocaine treatment services, benzodiazepine treatment services, opiate treatment services and many other substance abuse treatments.  The latest, cutting–edge technology and substance abuse treatment modalities are employed to provide a “whole-patient” approach to Grief.