Grief Counseling and Addiction Recovery

Grief Counseling and Addiction RecoveryGrief is a much more powerful emotion than many people realize. Whether caused by the loss of a loved one or remorse for one’s own actions, grief can psychologically overwhelm people with the following feelings:

  • Remorse
  • Sadness
  • Loneliness
  • Anger
  • Confusion
  • Fear
  • Hopelessness

Grief counselors help people navigate the tumultuous emotions of loss in healthy ways. The brain’s need to relieve emotional pain can encourage people to abuse alcohol or drugs, or even to seek sexual or risky behaviors to comfort themselves. While a temporary high with these drugs or behaviors may temporarily relieve pain, addiction often results from this type of self-medication. However, grief counseling can prevent unhealthy coping habits from developing, and it can help people restore healthier ways of living. Recovery from grief and its addictive effects is possible, especially with professional help.

How Grief and Addiction Affect the Brain

The prefrontal cortex of the brain manages the following emotional functions:

  • Emotions
  • Impulse control
  • The formation of habits
  • Anxiety response
  • Stress tolerance

A complex system of chemical signals and responses send messages of pain or pleasure to the brain and throughout the body. The brain uses this system to avoid situations that cause pain and anxiety, and it reinforces experiences that bring pleasure, comfort or relief. This area, sometimes known as the “pleasure center” or “reward center,” drives behavior in a way that is much more powerful than rational thought. While this system reinforces healthy activities such as exercise, serving others and working hard for a future reward, it can easily be overrun by the pleasurable feelings of drug or alcohol abuse, or even behaviors like eating, starving, sex or gambling. When people experience the intense emotions associated with grief, they are especially vulnerable to developing addictions. All of this means that drugs can overwhelm the emotional center of the brain, thereby making an addiction someone’s highest priority.

Effective Addiction Recovery and Grief

If you wrestle with addiction and grief and need more information about counseling and rehab, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline anytime. Our admissions coordinators can answer all your questions and connect you with treatment that will address all of your physical and emotional needs.

Grief affects everyone, and seeking help is not a sign of weakness. Don’t let substance abuse or compulsive behaviors add to the pain you are already experiencing. Find the healing you need and rediscover a healthy and joyful life.