Experiencing the 5 Stages of Loss During Recovery

Anytime there is a big loss in life, such as a death or a divorce, people grieve. It’s normal and natural. Sometimes recovering addicts experience grief at the loss of their addiction. After all, it has been a constant presence in their life for a long time and it may have been tied to a social group they no longer are a part of.

This, too, is normal and simply a part of the recovery and healing process. There are five stages you will go through, and some people stay at one stage longer than others. Understanding the stages and knowing they are a part of recovery can help you move through them more easily and with less anxiety.

1. Denial

When someone is addicted, they often deny that they have a problem. They may insist they have it handled, or that they’re just having a little bit of fun. At that point, you don’t really realize how deeply ingrained that behavior is becoming or how much you would do in order to keep the addiction going. Eventually, though, you will come to terms with it and where you are in your life.

2. Anger

When you move into anger, you see the addiction as a problem, but you may not be ready for recovery or treatment just yet. You might feel angry at what the addiction is taking for you, or upset at yourself that you have let things get out of control. Change is not what someone generally looks for during this stage because there is still more to be discovered before that change can take place.

3. Bargaining

As you advance into the next stage, you begin to bargain with your addiction and with yourself. You see that things are going wrong, but you want to find a way to keep your addiction and still be all right. It’s like a toxic relationship with another person, in that you are so involved in the relationship that you can’t see yourself without it.

4. Depression

Reaching the depression stage means you have realized that you can’t keep your addiction. That can make you very sad because you love your addiction in many ways. Still, the cost is simply becoming too high, and you know you have to do something differently in order to live a healthy life. Getting help at this stage can be critical.

5. Acceptance

Recovery and acceptance go hand in hand. You see the addiction for what it is, or was, and are able to move past it and realize the true value of avoiding the problems of the past. You feel and look better, and are happier without the addiction weighing you down. Like someone leaving a bad relationship, you accept that you can never go back, and that is just fine with you.

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