Grief and Substance Abuse

Grief and Substance Abuse: The Connection

Everyone will experience grief at some point in their life, whether it’s from someone passing, the end of a relationship, or a big life change. Sometimes, grief can become so overwhelming that it leads to substance abuse and addiction for someone trying to navigate it. In this blog, we will look at the relationship between grief and substance abuse and how you might receive help in this difficult time for you or a loved one. 

If you need a safe space to stay sober, our sober living environment at The Sanctuary Recovery Foundation may be right for you. Contact us and learn how we can help.

The Weight of Grief

Grief is very complicated and can affect a range of emotions, from sadness to anger, guilt, or even relief. It’s important to remember that grief will feel different for everyone, and there is no right or wrong way to get through it. Some may find it easier to cope than others, and any range of this should be expected.

Unfortunately, throughout this grief, people may turn to relief from their pain in ways that are not healthy. Sometimes, this can mean substance abuse and developing addiction. 

Grief and Alcohol

One of the most common substances that people will turn to in this difficult time of grief is alcohol. This is because alcohol can numb feelings for a short time and provide a little relief. However, heavily consuming alcohol will lead to many problems, including health issues, emotional regulation, and addiction. This can be dangerous quickly. 

How Grief Affects Substance Abuse

Escaping Reality

When someone is trying to combat grief, they may look to drugs to escape from their emotional turmoil. This temporary euphoria or numbness provides instant relief from a horrific emotional experience. 


People going through grief may find that they are now depressed or anxious. Those with depression or anxiety often use substances to self-medicate from difficult emotions that affect their everyday lives. 

Isolation and Loneliness

Grief may isolate you from those around you and your support networks. Friends and family may not know how to help you through this time, or you may purposefully isolate yourself to handle the complicated emotions. This can lead people to abuse substances to cope. In this blog, we explore why isolation and loneliness impact substance abuse

Breaking the Cycle

Seeking Professional Help

If you are trying to break the cycle of substance abuse during this time of grief, you should reach out to a therapist or professional who can help. Or you can try a sober living home like Sanctuary Foundation in SC, who can help you overcome addiction. 

Healthy Coping Mechanisms

It’s important to have tools to help you cope with your grief, and these are tools everyone will need to learn at some point. You could try keeping busy, doing things you enjoy, reaching out to a community, getting therapy or meditation, to name a few. 

Support and Understanding

A big thing for someone who is grieving is a support network. It’s important for those around the person suffering to be supportive and helpful in every way that they can. Keep open communication, cook them meals, or help them clean their home, as self-care may fall to the wayside as they go through this difficult time. 

In Conclusion: Grief and Substance Abuse

Grief can become intertwined with substance abuse very easily due to the complicated emotions and lack of tools people have and experience. While turning to substances may seem like a good idea in the moment, it can lead to a spiral that ends with addiction. Seeking help is the first step towards breaking free from this horrible cycle. If you are considering a community and professionals to help you through this difficult time, reach out to Sanctuary Recovery Foundation today.