Is there a connection between grief and addiction?
When I was a child and my teenage brother died suddenly, I was a wonderful observer and terrible interpreter. I watched the adults around me in various stages of agony. I cannot speak with any accuracy about the drinking habits or if they used alcohol to cope with the pain. I can only speak to my own adult behaviors in the face of my recent spate of grief.
Losing mom and dad in such a close time frame, it was interesting how quickly wine became an every evening event. I didn't want to feel or think. I just wanted wine and a movie on Netflix. It wasn't healthy. Or was it? In timing that seemed a God inspired "coincidence," I was sent an article,
"3 Ways Grief Can Fuel Addictive Behavior," posted on DefiningWellness.com The information was reviewed by Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis and updated on December 5th, 2022. It was sent by Granite Recovery Centers. GraniteRecoveryCenters.com
In the article, the text that resonated with me was, "What’s the relationship between grief and addiction? Grief and substance abuse occur when people turn to using drugs to relieve grief. They attempt to find even temporary relief from their pain. Using substances won’t solve grief and they may find themselves locked into a cycle of grief and addiction."
It became quickly obvious to me that while the glass of wine wasn't sending me down a path of addiction, it wasn't doing me any favors either. It was better for me to just "Lean into the pain" and find a better way to comfort myself. Now, I eating too much ice cream. I'm kidding. But not really. The importance of self care, and telling myself to "Go gently in everything you do" became my mantra. I found that two things replaced chardonnay for me; gratitude and service to others. What felt like a spiral became a gentle lift in the right direction.
It may not be as easy as all that for others. It wasn't quick or obvious to me for almost a year. If you find that substances are helping you cope, please connect with those around you. You are not alone. I've come to believe that when I reach out, there are resources.
Please review the article and let me know your thoughts and experiences. We are in this together.