When it comes to dealing with addiction, there is one, tragic fact that can’t be escaped: with addiction comes death. Whether you are working through the death of a loved one who suffered with an addiction, or in recovery and learning to deal with death in the community, it is always hard. Nothing prepares us for the possibility of losing someone we love and care for in such a devastating way, but thankfully, we can take solace in the fact that we are not alone. There are many different people, groups, and resources that we can reach out to for support after losing a loved one to addiction.
Friends and Family
One hugely powerful support network that you can turn to is friends and family. This could be your friends and family, or even the friends and family of the one you lost. No one is better to grieve with than those that knew and loved the individual as well. While there will always be sadness and tears during the process, turning to friends and family can also provide much needed love, laughter, and sharing. It can be tremendously powerful and healing to laugh with loved ones at the best memories of that person and share in all of the feelings that made them so special.
However, it isn’t always about what a group of people can do for you in the healing process. One of the best ways to deal with the feelings of hurt after losing a loved one can be to show up for and support others. Because of this, spending time with friends and family can be especially rewarding because you are not only receiving support, but you are also giving it. Asking others what they need during their hard time can give a sense of much needed purpose during a time when you yourself may be feeling lost and alone.
Again, the unfortunate reality is that you are not alone in having to grieve someone lost to an addiction. Because of this, there are many support groups designed specifically to bring together people who are experiencing these tragedies. At these groups, you will find people experiencing a recent loss, as well as people who lost someone long ago, and want to show up and show that you can make it through this. Having people who are experiencing the same feelings as you, and who have already walked the path that you are now on can be extremely comforting. This gives you people to relate to, as well as people to lean on.
These groups meet regularly so those that need them will always have a place to go to share their feelings, listen to words of encouragement from others, or simply find comfort in being surrounded by those who understand what they are dealing with.
While loved ones and support groups can be immensely helpful during this hard time, sometimes more is needed. It is okay to need more help and seeking out a counselor or therapist who can help you heal your wounds can be incredibly effective and helpful. Therapy can help to deal with deep seeded emotions such as abandonment, fear, and help resolve any feelings of guilt that may be persisting. A quality therapist will help you to understand that this isn’t your fault, to know that fear is a normal and healthy response to a terrible situation, and help you put together a plan to begin living your life again.
Finding joy after experiencing such a tragedy can be incredibly difficult. Seeking therapy can be a much-needed step to resolving difficult feelings so that you can begin to feel happy again after going through such a difficult time.
Medical Doctors and Staff
Dealing with death is always hard but dealing with the loss of a loved one through addiction adds another awful layer to an already difficult situation. In times of extreme emotional distress, it is not uncommon for people to find themselves dealing with anxiety or depression. This can be situation, or due to grief intensifying symptoms that were already present. In these circumstances, it is important to speak with a doctor or other medical staff, such as a psychiatrist.
Taking care of your mental health is absolutely vital to efforts to recover from loss. It is both strong and brave to recognize when you are struggling and seek out the help that you need. A doctor of psychiatrist can prescribe necessary medications that can help to stabilization your mental health so that you can effectively work through your pain. In many circumstances, this will come with a plan to work with a counselor or therapist and eventually be taken off the medications if they are no longer needed.
Helplines and Additional Resources
Finally, if you find yourself desperately needing support at a time when you have no where else to turn, there are multitudes of resources available and happy to help you 24/7. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, provides a 24 Hour helpline for anyone struggling with substance abuse or mental health crisis’s, include the loss of a loved one. Additionally, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a 24 Hour crises hotline for those who are dealing with emotional and mental crisis’s that have them considering taking their own lives. Finally, the U of A Health School has compiled a comprehensive list of resources– online, by phone, or in person- available 24 Hours a day for anyone who is struggling and doesn’t know where to turn.
Make no mistake about it- addiction ruins and ends lives. It leads to pain and suffering for both the addicted individual, and those who love them. If you or someone that you love is struggling with an addiction, don’t wait to get help. There may not be a tomorrow. Speak with a trusted loved one, a doctor, therapist, or a qualified substance abuse specialist today. Changing your life can begin with a simple phone call. You don’t need to suffer anymore.