Why am I Mourning my Addiction in Recovery?
An aspect of recovery that many in treatment don’t anticipate is post-addiction depression and the feeling of loss or mourning even though their health and lives are steadily improving. Although common, this experience can be powerful for those in recovery, forcing them to focus on some more in-depth aspects of healing and work through their conflicting emotions.
Relationship with Addiction
For those who have never dealt with substance use disorder, it may be hard to understand that many in recovery have previously felt that they were in a love affair with the substance(s) they misused. Much like a new relationship, the process of spiraling into addiction is like falling in love. There is a first meeting, a sense of anticipation, excitement, comfort, and other things people feel when they begin and develop a romantic relationship. As with any breakup, especially in a dysfunctional or toxic relationship, there is pain and mourning involved, sometimes longing for the “good times,” even if they were coupled with the bad.
The feelings that come with post-addiction depression can be confusing for some in recovery, especially when they are feeling better than ever and are working to repair their lives from the devastation of their addiction. Some may feel depression in regards to facing the reality of what substance use has done to their bodies, families, friends, and future prospects in life. The days spent focusing on substance misuse instead of pursuing previous ambitions, destroyed relationships, and the feeling of remorse of earlier behaviors or incidents that cannot be undone.
For some, the post-addiction depression can come later in recovery when they feel they’re really “conquered’ their substance use disorder but are then faced with the reality that they will never feel “back to normal” due to having to abstain from certain social situations, medications, and potential triggering people, places, or activities moving forward.
Managing Post-Addiction Depression
As with any feeling of loss, there are stages of grief people in recovery can begin to feel as they work through their traumas and deeper-seated issues in substance use counseling. The stages of grief, which are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, are a normal part of the process of mourning addiction. Not every stage will occur for every person in recovery, and their progression may not happen in a linear sequence. Sometimes a particular step will be felt before another, or one of the stages may be skipped entirely.
Finding closure and treating post-addiction depression can be a long road for some, but no one should go it alone. There are many resources for people who are in treatment, or for those who are no longer in MAT but wish to continue their substance use counseling. It’s an essential step in preventing future relapse but also for engaging in whole-patient treatment that will ensure that people can maintain long-lasting recovery and happiness while working through the issues that may have led them to substance misuse.
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