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Grief In Recovery: 5 Ways To Stay Sober In Tough Times

Whether you’re sober or not, life will not always be easy. Many people believe that once they leave active addiction behind and begin living a life in recovery, they would no longer be subjected to difficult times. They believe that since they are doing the right thing and avoiding drugs and alcohol, that all the stress and negativity they once experienced should be a thing of the past.

However, this could not be further from the truth.

Grief in recovery is an extremely common occurrence. No matter whether you’ve been sober for one minute or one decade, life will continue to show up on occasion. The difference is how one deals with grief in recovery versus active addiction.


Grief is, like many things, an unfortunate part of life. Although we may experience far more good times in recovery than bad times, it’s important to understand that just because you’ve found sobriety does not mean that you are immune from ever experiencing negative situations. The difference is how one handles grief in recovery.

During the process of undertaking sobriety and working a program, we often pick up new coping mechanisms and life skills along the way. The primary purpose of any 12-step program is to teach you how to handle life without having to turn to drugs or alcohol as a means to get through life’s trials. The 12 steps are designed to take our previous thought process and rewire our brains to utilize different methods of handling situations. By using what you learn in the rooms and applying it to everyday life, successfully handling grief in recovery is completely possible!


So, life has officially shown up after what felt like an eternity you rode your pink cloud (feelings of happiness or elation felt in early sobriety). Now what? It may have been easy to talk about how you would handle grief in recovery in theory, but now that it’s here you’re not sure what to do. Fear not! If you follow these 5 simple suggestions, you will find yourself victorious (and sober)!

Call Your Sponsor

One of the most heard suggestions in the rooms of any 12-step program is to call your sponsor whenever anything substantial happens. This is especially true when dealing with grief in recovery. The idea behind sponsorship is to have someone who can not only take you through the 12 steps successfully, but also can always offer guidance by sharing their experience, strength, and hope with you regarding any situation that may crop up. Sponsorship is also based primarily on open communication, and if you do not open up to your sponsor honestly about what is going on in your life, you are already setting yourself up for failure. Your sponsor will be able to give you their experience on how they overcame grief in recovery, so you can take their suggestions and apply them to your situation.

Call Your Support System

Much like contacting your sponsor, reaching out to your support system is crucial in difficult times. When we first enter recovery, so much emphasis is put on building a strong support network for this exact reason. In times of turmoil, you want plenty of other recovering addicts and alcoholics to reach out to who can offer support and love during a hard time. Whether you met your support system in the rooms of your 12-step fellowship, or they’re people who are members of your alumni group, alerting as many as you can of the fact you’re struggling with grief in recovery is a great way to get a lot of support. Your support system will check up on your frequently, and you’ll always have someone to confide in.

Dive into the Steps

Step work is a great way to combat grief in recovery. Immersing yourself in the program can give you great insight into your dilemma and provide a positive way to get out any feelings you may be experiencing. Strengthening your program in times of adversity is also important so you can find yourself more grounded in recovery which can help lower your chances for relapse.  The steps are designed to help you learn new, healthy coping mechanisms that you can turn to while dealing with grief in recovery. Arm yourself with as many tools as possible!


Journaling is always a great way to deal with any adversity, whether in recovery or not. It is a tool used by addicts and alcoholics in the program as well as psychologists around the world. By turning to writing whenever grief in recovery strikes, you can note your exact feelings on paper. Writing allows you to process and truly comprehend your feelings on a level you may not have been able to before. Processing your feelings entirely can prevent them from overtaking you. Negative emotions are a big reason for relapse, so by journaling when dealing with grief in recovery, you can help lower your chances for relapse!

Pray and Meditate

The fifth and final way you can successfully handle grief in recovery is through prayer and meditation. Prayer and meditation are key parts of 12-step programs. Many times whenever we ask for help or advice, we are directed to “Pray about it.” Having a connection to a higher power is crucial to not only be successful in recovery, but also to be able to handle life on life’s terms. We cannot progress through life or the recovery process without living a spiritual life and having a power greater than ourselves that we can turn to.

Are Your Struggling to Find Help?

If you or a loved one has been struggling with drug and alcohol addiction, California Highlands Addiction Treatment is here for you! Give us a call 24/7 at 888-969-8755 to be connected to one of our addiction professionals who can help get you the help you need!


Bertrand T

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