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Boca Recovery Center: The Connection Between Grief & Substance Abuse

Boca Recovery Center: The Connection Between Grief & Substance Abuse

October 22, 2022

Grief & Substance Use & Addiction


Source: Boca Recovery Center

Being in a state of grief or depression makes certain individuals more prone to explore the use of mind-altering substances. This can quickly lead to continued substance abuse and addiction.

– Boca Recovery Center


Grief from the loss of a loved one is one of the rawest, most disruptive experiences in life.  It can disrupt our lives, our lifelines, and our equilibrium.  “Just get me through this” is a survivor’s plea, and in a state of grief, it could be an opening to behaviors and remedies that otherwise might never have seen the light of day.  Given the circumstances, it’s understandable.  Grief is a complicated passage.  However one might wish that it not be any more difficult than it needs to be, and above all as we move through it, we want to move towards a healthy future.

The Boca Recovery Center article ‘Grief & Substance Use & Addiction’ points out, how the relationship between addiction and grief is established and that the potential link shares some common characteristics.

“Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss American psychiatrist did a significant amount of work analyzing grief and proposed the five stages of grief. These stages are also inextricably linked to substance abuse and addiction.”

People cope with grief in different ways.  For those inclined to have a drink or self-medicate, they may be seeking to cope in the moment, however putting their long-term mental health at risk in the process.  Awareness of the relationship between addiction and grief is a positive step in the prevention or arrest in the path toward addiction or abuse.

The article points out how the parallels between substance abuse and grief puts certain individuals in a precarious pitfall, one undermining the other and inviting a cycle of negative challenges.

Further, the long-term implications of combining substance abuse and prolonged grief may lend themselves to Prolonged grief disorder, addiction and other mental health issues.

Grief and substance abuse


For our purposes, an once of self-awareness is worth a pound of treatment.  The earlier one can recognize the nature of these potentially co-dependent conditions, the better.  If you feel that your grief and addiction have reached levels that are negatively affecting your mental well-being, you should seek treatment.  The Boca Recover Center article dives into much more detail, and if you recognize the behavioral patterns described, it is worth a talk with a counselor or trusted friend to consider a strategy to break the cycle.


Treatment for grief and substance abuse varies from individual to individual, and each treatment plan should be catered to the individual’s needs.

– Boca Recovery Center