Grief and Alcohol Addiction

Grief is a natural part of life that everyone experiences at some point. Furthermore, the longer you live, the more grief you will likely experience.

Everyone who experiences grief must cope with it in some way or another. There are healthy coping strategies and dysfunctional coping strategies. Attempting to numb your pain through the use of alcohol is without a doubt an unhealthy, destructive coping strategy. Nonetheless, it is an understandable and very human response to want to find escape from emotional pain in any way possible, and many people dealing with grief find themselves “climbing into the bottle” for solace.

How Grief Can Contribute to Alcohol Addiction

A person who drinks but is not a full-blown alcoholic may find that unresolved or overwhelming grief is the trigger that takes him from occasional, situational alcohol use into the realm of true addiction. If a person is not truly addicted to alcohol but nonetheless has a tendency to turn to alcohol in times of trouble and emotional pain, going through a period of grief over the loss of someone close may cause him or her to begin drinking more frequently. He or she is likely to drink larger amounts more often until it becomes a regular habit.

It may be that the grief seems to be too much to bear, and he or she will find that drinking numbs the pain, albeit temporarily. When the effects of the alcohol wear off, however, the grief returns, and in fact will probably be worse, since abstaining from alcohol after a period of indulgence typically produces depression. In this mental state the person will naturally be inclined to continue to drink in order to avoid the pain as much as possible, and before long, may be a true alcohol addict, unable to cope with grief or life in general without drinking.

How an Alcoholic Will Cope with Grief

A true alcoholic has already reached the point at which he or she cannot cope with life without drinking. When tragedy strikes and the person experiences significant loss, he or she naturally will attempt to cope with grief the same way that he or she copes with everything else: by drinking.

There are very many “functional alcoholics” in the world; that is to say, people who drink regularly yet are able to maintain relatively normal and productive lives. However, they are almost invariably doing long-term damage to their health that may take years to manifest itself. Liver damage in particular is common among functional alcoholics and may ultimately prove to be fatal.

A functional alcoholic will have a very hard time quitting drinking at any point, but especially when going through the grieving process. Professional therapy is essential in helping the person detox safely from alcohol, quit drinking and cope with grief and any other emotional issues in healthier ways.

Grief Counseling and Treatment for Alcoholism

Alcohol addiction is a potentially fatal condition that should be treated professionally, especially if the patient has been drinking long enough to develop true physical dependence on alcohol. Behavioral therapy will help the patient to learn healthier, more productive methods of coping with emotional pain. Counseling can help anyone who is dealing with grief, whether or not he or she is addicted to alcohol.

If you would like help finding grief counseling or treatment for alcohol addiction, please call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline today.

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