Losing loved ones is never easy. But the heroin epidemic has thrust many people into tragic and unnecessary losses- lives lost far too early.
An All-too-Common Tragedy
These days it would be hard to find someone who didn’t have at least a casual acquaintance that had passed away from a drug overdose- much less a neighbor, coworker, friend, family member, sibling, parent, or child. The pain caused when we lose someone to an overdose is beyond words. We have watched drugs destroy the life of someone who had so much potential- so much to live for- and an overdose that takes the life of someone we love seems cruel and senseless. The reality of the disease of addiction is that it is fatal- and without help, it is almost inevitable. If you, like so many others, have experienced the loss of someone you love due to their addiction, you are not alone. There are many, many others who have gone through the same thing, and there are many resources you can turn to when the grief seems too much to bear.
Resources for Coping with Overdose
Organizations such as Al-Anon, Nar-Anon, and GRASP, are all intended to provide support to loved ones of someone who is either in active addiction, or who has passed away from the disease. You may not feel particularly comfortable with the idea of sharing your personal grief with seeming strangers, but you will probably be surprised to discover how comforting it is being able to talk to others who either have or are dealing with the same things. Support networks provide a safe (and free) place for you to work through the pain of your loss, and the intense range of emotions that go hand in hand with losing someone to an overdose. You may find that these meetings and the connections you make there with other people can provide invaluable lasting comfort and support. You can even start with an online support group if that makes you more comfortable.
Sometimes, it may be helpful to seek out the assistance of a therapist or counselor for specific grief counseling. Counselors are trained to help you to identify and work through the stages of grief (Denial/Isolation, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance), and to come to terms with the loss of your loved one in a healthy manner. Being able to communicate how you feel, and to continue to be able to show up for your other loved ones and for life’s responsibilities are other things that a grief counselor can help you achieve. A list of counselors by state can be found here.
Reading can be a great way to begin to work through a loved one’s overdose, and to feel like you aren’t alone. Sometimes just reading about someone else having gone through this pain and feeling the same things we are can begin the healing process and provide valuable suggestions on how to carry on. GRASP, Grief Recovery After Substance abuse Passing, provides a list of books on their website that may be of help.
Meditation is one tool you can use when you feel overwhelmed, anxious, or depressed (all common emotions in the wake of the loss of a loved one). Meditation has proven health benefits, including improving cardiovascular, rheumatologic, and digestive functioning, and relief from anxiety, depression, and insomnia. YouTube has countless guided meditations, which can be helpful for beginners, or simply do an internet search for “beginners meditation” if you are just starting out.
Take Good Care of Yourself
Most importantly, take care of yourself. Get plenty of sleep, make sure you are getting enough nutrients from your meals (even if it means substituting in an Ensure or other nutritional supplement), and take the time to allow yourself to feel. The more you fight against the feelings or bury them deep down inside, the longer they will persist. Journaling is another great way to express and identify what we are feeling. Ease yourself back into work, and communicate with those around you, even if it feels repetitive or imposing. Truly, the grief from losing a loved one from an overdose never truly goes away, but with time and the right tools, we can learn how to continue on with life. With time, many find that involvement with advocacy/awareness groups, helping others through support groups, or just sharing your story to help reduce the stigma of addiction, can be great longer-term therapeutic tools.
If someone you love is addicted to drugs, we can help. Call 1-800-203-2024 today for your free confidential assessment.