The Stages of Grief During Addiction Recovery

Overcoming substance abuse is not without its challenges. Perhaps the biggest of all for many people entering rehab is the prospect of changing their lives beyond recognition. Very often, this is the only way to prevent people from relapsing back to substance abuse. However, big life changes also bring with them a sense of loss and denial is one of the early stages of grief.


Why Is There Grief During Recovery?

One of the main objectives of addiction treatment is to prepare people for long-term recovery. If the individual is attending a residential program, at some point they will have to leave the facility and return home. If the reasons behind their addiction have not been addressed, it will be very tempting for the person to hang out with the same people and in the same places as they did when they were using. Of course, once they are in the presence of others with substance use issues, relapse is very likely.


During rehab, therapy is strongly focused on identifying the aspects of a person’s life that need to be changed to make it possible for them to overcome substance abuse. It is not unusual for people entering rehab to feel cautious about a life without substances, wondering how they will be able to enjoy themselves again. This is an entirely natural emotion and part of the illness of addiction that fades during the rehab process.


A personalized rehab program is intended to allow people to embrace change so that they feel positive about closing the door on the past. In some cases, there are family members also abusing substances who reside in the same home as a recovering addict. Although this can make it difficult for them to continue in sobriety, most good rehab centers such as Casa Recovery offer family therapy which is very effective.



Denial is very common, particularly in those struggling with addictive behaviors. No one wants to admit they are struggling with alcohol, drugs, or gambling; denial allows them to make the reality more flattering. While in recovery, a person may still be in denial that they are addicted to a substance.



Anger is an emotion that we all feel from time to time. However, some people find it difficult to process angry thoughts and feelings, resorting instead to using drugs and/or alcohol. In order to treat a person’s feelings of anger so that they can focus on addiction rehab, it is important to identify its root. There are different reasons we feel anger although it is generally speaking a physical reaction to uncomfortable situations. The types of events that trigger anger tend to vary from person to person.


Anger Management in Addiction Recovery

Anger is an early stage of grief and is often seen as a reaction from patients in detox from substance abuse. As the influence of drugs and alcohol wane, feelings of anger can bubble up as the body desperately tries to get its fix. It is important to deal with these emotions as part of treatment in order for the individual to move past them.

Most good rehab centers such as Casa Recovery offer discussion-based therapies like CBT which deal directly with issues of anger management. Therapists help individuals identify the issues that trigger anger in them so that they are able to adapt their behavior and avoid those negative feelings. Rehab treatment has a strong focus on eliminating negative thoughts and feelings with positive ones.

Many people entering rehab feel a sense of loss after leaving behind friends they associate with substance abuse. In some cases, these people can be family members or others living under the same roof. In order for a person to overcome addiction, it is essential to stay away from enabling influences for the sake of their sobriety. This drastic change in a person’s lifestyle can be difficult and on occasion gives rise to feelings of anger.


Although most of us associate grief with the death of a loved one or a life event such as divorce, these are not the only reasons. People who have entered rehab often go through a grieving period as they move on from an addictive lifestyle to a new and healthier future. Addiction takes some time to develop and people can become very stuck in their habits along with substance abuse itself. In other words, they will get used to going to certain places and mixing with other users as an integral part of their illness.


The Bargaining Stage of Grief

One of the stages of grief is bargaining. This is when a person says things to themselves such as:

  • If only I had been a better friend
  • If only I had reached out for help sooner
  • What if I hadn’t checked myself into rehab?


One of the important aspects of addiction treatment is helping people find a way to shift focus from the past to the future. When a person is receiving treatment for addiction, it is unhealthy for them to dwell in the past that kept them addicted. The most effective way of achieving long-term recovery is to address a negative state of mind by introducing positive change.


Specialist rehab centers like Casa Recovery offer addiction treatment programs that are entirely focused on the individual. This is mainly because every person has their own experience of substance abuse. The stages of grief may play out differently for each individual and so it’s important that their treatment program supports their personal needs.



Rehabilitation from addiction is not without its challenges. Many people entering rehab find they go through a grieving process as they move on from addictive behavioral patterns. It is not uncommon for people in the early stages of recovery to feel angry or depressed about giving up their lifestyle. Here we take a closer look at how these feelings of depression are dealt with as part of a comprehensive addiction treatment program.


Understanding How Depression Affects Recovery

The first step in all rehab programs is detox. This is the process when a person abstains from using substances and goes through withdrawal. It is usual for people to experience a whole range of emotions, thoughts, and feelings during detox including depression. Although depression in detox is usually a withdrawal symptom that will pass, many people in rehab need more help with negative feelings to overcome them.


Depression is directly linked to substance abuse. This is because people either:

  • Start using substances to self-medicate depression, or
  • Develop the symptoms as a result of substance abuse.


In both cases, these individuals are referred to as dual diagnosis patients. When a person has entered a rehab program for addiction, they will first be evaluated and assessed to determine whether they also have depression. To treat the symptoms of depression, the most likely course of action in a rehab setting is discussion-based therapy such as CBT.


One of the significant benefits of specialist addiction treatment is that the individual’s personal needs are taken care of. In regard to depression, therapy addresses the root causes and provides individuals with tools to help them achieve long-term recovery.



When people enter into treatment for substance abuse, they often go through intense emotional progress as they heal. Overcoming addiction means closing the door on the lifestyle that led to an individual seeking treatment so that they can move on. People are by no means prepared for the significant changes required of them to achieve sobriety, which can lead to feelings of grief and loss. As individuals pass through fear, angerdenialbargaining, and depression, they eventually find themselves in the final stage of grief, acceptance.


Accepting and Embracing Positive Change

When people turn to drugs and alcohol, they tend to get swept up in a lifestyle that brings them into contact with others who are using. They will hang out in places where they can obtain and use substances easily and without judgment. This can become a dangerous comfort zone for people with addiction, which they need to be pulled out of in order to get better.


Part of the process of rehabilitation involves identifying the issues driving substance abuse. This is done with the help of therapists both on a one-to-one basis and in group sessions. By talking through experiences of substance abuse, individuals can start to understand the patterns in their behaviors. This enables them to make necessary changes and adapt their behavior going forward.


Acceptance is an essential part of the grief process as it allows people to close the door to the past and make way for a new future. Recovery is always more effective when individuals have found happiness in sobriety, which is made possible through specialist therapy at rehab centers such as Casa Recovery. Although the route to recovery is not without its challenges, it is possible to work through a rehab program and find the best path for you.


Choose Casa Recovery for an Effective Addiction Rehab Program in San Juan Capistrano, CA

Casa Recovery offers rehab programs that have been tailored to your personal needs. This is because we know that everyone has their own experience of substance abuse. Our first-class facility in Orange County, CA is set in tranquil surroundings that are perfect for your healing. If you are struggling with drugs and alcohol use or have concerns for a loved one, contact Casa Recovery’s mental health facility in Southern California today.