Loss on the road to recovery
Everyone experiences loss during their lifetime, but for the addict in recovery, loss, and the grief that accompanies it, is more complex and multilayered. However, going through loss recovery is an essential part of the road to rehabilitation.
An addict may encounter loss in two ways; there is loss caused by addiction, for example; loss of family, work or home, and there is a sense of loss that drives the person to become an addict in the first place. In this case, an addicted person uses alcohol or other drugs to numb the pain of sadness, grief or anger aroused by life events. It is a vicious circle that amplifies the pain in a life of addiction, making the need to remain addicted a necessity. It is difficult to break out of this behaviour and the addict newly in recovery often finds the early days especially tough, because they become aware of a multitude of losses. This is the time when people are most likely to relapse into addictive behaviour again.
The avoidance of distressing emotions is only ever a temporary relief measure. These feelings need to be acknowledged and talked about, otherwise they tend to come out through other behaviours. When we express feelings through behaviour, we often do it unconsciously and that means we have no control over them. As a result, they can be damaging and self-defeating.
Feeling loss is therefore a natural part of the recovery process. It may involve losing certain friends, giving up a lifestyle or a career, and relinquishing any possessions that trigger a desire for addictive behaviour. The grief of the loss of each of these has to be expressed and worked through in order to achieve and maintain recovery.
Another type of loss the addict experiences is that of the addictive substance or behaviour itself. Despite the fact that alcohol or drugs may be causing chaos in many dimensions of a person’s life, he or she will miss the comfort that the addictive substance brings. Addicts also have an intimate relationship with their preferred substance and this is a tough bond to break; it is like being in a bad divorce and has the same emotional effects. This loss is one of the most misunderstood aspects of recovery and the one least adequately treated in addiction centres.
Loss recovery and addiction
The addict also loses their certainty about daily life during recovery. An addicted life’s day is mapped out clearly in fixed routines, but in recovery every day is an unknown and the distress of strongly suppressed emotions emerging after years is an enormously challenging part of recovering. However, the most powerful way to stay on the road to recovery is by developing the skills to deal with and manage these emotions so that a new life can be built. That is one of the skills we help you develop at Villa Paradiso.