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Substance Abuse and Grief Are Intertwined

substance abuse harford county

There are a lot of reasons why a person might face issues of substance abuse within their lives. For some people, losing parents, family members, or friends can be that catalyst that pushes them toward the development of an addiction.

How Losing Someone Leads to Substance Abuse

Everyone deals with loss differently and everyone should be allowed a period in which to grieve. However, it can be dangerously easy to fall into bad habits during this time of huge vulnerability. Some say that it can feel as if their “anchor to their identity had been severed.” Interpersonal relationships are a big part of being human, so when a person loses someone else, they may lose sight of themselves for a while, and this can lead toward the development of an addiction.

The stages of grief are part of this tumultuous time and can also contribute toward unhealthy decisions. If the person isn’t able to move through all those stages in a normal period of time, then this is the point at which they might turn to external ‘forces’ to ‘help’ them, such as drugs and alcohol. Even if that person has never had an issue with addiction before, they may start to use the substance as a kind of emotional crutch and can become dependent.

“Studies show that losing a parent can lead to increased risks for long-term emotional and mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.” Even more vulnerable are those who were primarily alone during the grieving process and who received little to no support from others. Even more at risk are younger people, particularly children, who are then more likely face the development of an addiction as they age.

Strong grief can have serious effects on all parts of a person, from their emotions and thoughts to their physical well-being and habits. The loss is felt keenly in all areas, and so it breaks down a lot of the ‘defensive barriers’ that might have otherwise kept a person from developing an addiction. For example, a person might have been emotionally impacted, but they have a strong support system to keep everything in check. However, someone who doesn’t have others to lean on may not be able to care for themselves properly during this time and might self-medicate.

It may be difficult for people to notice signs of “complicated grief,” or grief that leads to the development of an addiction, in an individual. Since people react differently to loss, it’s hard to say that there is an acceptable period of time to react. This is why it’s tricky to know when to step in, particularly if you haven’t seen signs of drug or alcohol abuse yet. It may be a good idea for the person to seek some sort of counseling if the grief process has gone on for a long period of time in order to help them to heal. If they have in fact begun abusing drugs or alcohol, then addiction counseling may be the next move.

If the person hasn’t developed a habit of substance abuse, though, then there’s time to help and support them. If you are struggling with grief but don’t feel as if you have anyone to turn to, then consider a support group for those who have lost a parent or loved one. There is always someone who can help, even if you don’t realize it yet. To get professional help for yourself or for others who need support in overcoming an addiction, contact The Bergand Group. We offer recovery programs for yourself or for others or are seeking education materials about addictions. The Bergand Group is Maryland’s leading addiction recovery center and offers support for those struggling with drug addiction and mental health issues, including direction for those who may be denying an addiction.  We can help you to work through your addiction in a safe and healthy environment where everyone is committed to your care.

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About The Bergand Group:

At The Bergand Group in Baltimore and Harford County, Maryland, our therapists have more than twenty years of experience in the mental health and addiction fields. Our focus is on providing comprehensive mental health care and appropriate care for addictive disorders. We offer both alcohol rehab and drug rehabilitation. If you or someone you know is struggling with alcohol or substance addiction, there is help available. We also offer several other services, including family therapy and counseling. We can help. Contact us today.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

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