Getting Through Loss in Addiction Recovery

Table of Contents


Grief is a complicated, uncomfortable, and entirely unavoidable part of the human experience. In many instances, grief is spurned by a significant loss. Loss might look like the untimely passing of a loved one, the end of a long-term romantic relationship, the death of a beloved family pet, or the end of a lucrative and stable career. If you have recently experienced a significant loss and you are relatively new to the world of addiction recovery, you have entered into one of the most emotionally tumultuous experiences you will likely ever live through. There are few things more difficult than navigating grief without the use of your long-term coping mechanisms — chemical substances. While active in your addiction, you likely avoided feelings like sadness, despair, and loneliness by drowning them in drugs and alcohol. Now, you are being forced to face negative emotions head-on. If you aren’t accustomed to navigating uncomfortable emotions, you might feel like they are going to (literally) kill you. At 12 Step Illinois we understand how difficult it can be to work through loss in addiction recovery, and we believe that 12 Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) can play a life-changing role in navigating challenging situations and uncomfortable feelings. To learn more about 12 Step programs in your area, contact us today.

Speeding Up the Healing Process

The truth about emotional pain is that the healing process will always take time, no matter how much you journal, no matter how many meetings you attend on any given day, and no matter how much you attempt to speed it along. When the pain of loss is fresh it might be on your mind for the majority of the day. You might feel downtrodden, overwhelmed, stuck, or hopeless, unsure of whether or not you will ever return to a state of happiness — even baseline contentment might seem eternally out-of-reach. There is a quote in AA that goes, “Time takes time.” People usually say this in relation to sober time. For example, you won’t get a year sober until you spend a year in sobriety, free from all mood and mind-altering substances. This might seem like a complete no-brainer, but it can be easy to forget. The same is true of healing. The time it takes to heal will take time. You might start to feel a little bit better in a week, then slightly better in two weeks. In several months you will feel like your old self again. But it won’t happen overnight, and there is certainly no “quick fix.” As alcoholics we love instant gratification — this is part of the reason why we drank so heavily. Alcohol gave us almost immediate results. Waiting for pain to pass is not in our nature. But it is a skill we can learn when we are kind to and patient with ourselves.

The Role of AA

Alcoholics Anonymous can play an important role in the healing process, regardless of what it is you are healing from. AA will provide you with a built-in support network; a group of people you can count on and lean on in times of need. If you are new to the program, it is recommended you take the following steps when going through any kind of loss:

  • Up your meeting attendance. The more meetings the better! Not only will meetings provide you with a healthy distraction and keep you busy, but the more you raise your hand and share about where you’re at, the more support you’ll be met with.
  • Dive into your stepwork. If you haven’t finished working through the Steps with a sponsor, keep at it. If you have already worked through the 12 Steps of AA or another similarly structured program, ask your sponsor if you can start working through them again. The Steps can be utilized as a useful tool to help you get through a specific problem or emotionally challenging time.
  • Call people from the program. Each 12 Step meeting you attend will have its own phone list, a list of the names and phone numbers of each group member. People add their numbers to the list because they want to and expect to be called. Because texting is much more commonplace than picking up the phone and making an actual call, doing so might take some getting used to. Rest assured that when you call another program member to talk, you are actually doing them a favor by allowing them to be of service.

Emotional pain can be a major relapse trigger if it is not handled properly. One of the most effective strategies is making sure your pain is brought to light — share it with another person, make sure it is seen and known and heard. For more information on steps to take when you are dealing with a significant loss, contact 12 Step Illinois today.

The Importance of Outside Help

While AA serves an important role in the lives of many recovering addicts and alcoholics, many individuals choose to seek “outside help.” This usually means seeking the help of a licensed mental health professional, whether that be a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist. If you have recently sustained a significant loss and AA doesn’t seem to be helping as much as you’d like it to be, there is absolutely no shame in taking added measures to help yourself heal. At 12 Step Illinois we are well-connected with numerous reputable, licensed therapists throughout the state. We are happy to put you into contact with a therapist in Illinois who we believe would be a good fit for you. To learn more about seeking outside help or for additional mental health resources, contact us today.

When it comes to maintaining sobriety through a challenging time, it is absolutely crucial that you have the right set of tools and relapse prevention skills in place. Because those who struggle with addiction have become so accustomed to using drugs and alcohol as a method of coping with uncomfortable emotions, healthy coping strategies do not come naturally. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help newly sober individuals navigate emotionally strenuous circumstances. At 12 Step Illinois we believe in the efficacy of 12 Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Not only do 12 Step programs offer a built-in community of like-minded peers, but they allow individuals who are new to sobriety the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others. Going through a significant loss in addiction recovery is certainly never easy, but if you can openly share your experiences with others who will in turn offer you strength and hope, you will be in a much better position to walk through emotionally challenging times with your sobriety intact. To learn more about 12 Step programs in the Illinois area or for help starting out on your personal journey of addiction recovery, contact 12 Step Illinois today.

Find A Meeting | 888-530-5096