5 Ways To Stay Sober While Grieving in Recovery

5 Ways To Stay Sober While Grieving In Recovery

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 in Recovery

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!

What Can You Do?

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!

Write in a Journal

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 You 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!

Holistic Addiction Therapies In Treatment

This article is meant for informational purposes only. We do not provide holistic therapies at California Highlands Addiction Treatment.

Recovering from substance abuse and addiction is a personal path filled with twists and turns that are unique to each person’s journey. But for most, healing from addiction requires that they achieve a state of well-being and practice resolve to leave drugs and alcohol alone for good. Fortunately, there are several ways to achieve sobriety. If traditional methods aren’t creating the results desired, then alternative methods can point the way to freedom.

Holistic medicine and therapies have long been used to treat a variety of illnesses, including addiction. The Academy of Integrative Health & Medicine defines holistic medicine as “the art and science of healing that addresses the whole person—body, mind, and spirit.” According to the Mayo Clinic, nearly 30 percent of adults report using complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practices.

Some drug and alcohol rehab centers have incorporated CAM principles and practices into traditional inpatient, residential, and outpatient treatment to help heal the whole person—mind, body, and soul—not just the disease.

Popular holistic addiction therapies include:

Acupuncture, acupressure


Art therapy




Massage therapy

Meditation/mindfulness therapy

Music therapy

Nutritional therapy

Physical therapy

Reiki (a Japanese technique in which energy levels are manipulated)

Relationship counseling

Spiritual counseling

Tai chi


These therapies and many others can help you align the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual parts of yourself as you manage your recovery. Alternative therapies can help you understand the root of your addiction, stay focused and committed to sober living, and prevent relapse.

How Can Holistic Medicine Help Recovery, and Does it Work?

Holistic addiction therapies can help recovering substance users:

Manage or end cravings for addictive substances

Manage alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms

Reduce tension and stress

Ease insomnia, depression, and anxiety

Improve eating habits, behavior

Focus on their health and well-being, making it a priority

Build a foundation for spiritual health and well-being that can guide them through their recovery

While holistic therapy has its supporters, it is common to ask if therapies like acupuncture or yoga actually work. The answer to that questions depends on who you ask.

According to a Psychology Today article written by Anne M. Fletcher M.S., R.D., some experts say that, in general, there is no evidence that holistic approaches benefit addiction recovery. One argument is that alternative therapies aren’t evidence-based treatment. As the Mayo Clinic notes on the topic, conventional doctors are cautious about making recommendations for CAM because they have not been trained in integrative medicine or they realize scientific evidence doesn’t exist for some CAM therapies.

Those in favor of holistic therapies say alternative methods can make recovering users open to receiving addiction treatment and that those methods can and do support traditional psychotherapies that are evidence-based.

There’s also the perspective that alternative methods keep some people engaged in the recovery process and committed to seeing it through. Incorporating different elements from different approaches can also help create a recovery program that is tailored to a client’s specific needs.

Considering Holistic Addiction Therapy? Read This First

If you or a loved one is interested in using alternative holistic therapies in addiction treatment, here are some things to ask before you commit.

Is the therapy I am considering part of a science-based or evidence-based rehab program?

Integrated treatment that combines evidence-based therapy models and experiential therapies has been effective for many in recovery. For example, a person who is in cognitive-behavioral therapy to learn how to change problematic behaviors and negative thinking may also be in art therapy or music therapy to help them work through their emotions. If you are unsure about a therapy, run it by your personal physician or mental health care professional to make sure the therapy is appropriate and beneficial for your addiction recovery treatment. “Even if your doctor can’t recommend a specific practitioner, he or she can help you understand possible risks and benefits before you try a treatment,” writes the Mayo Clinic.

What are the credentials of the providers of the holistic therapy I am considering?

Take the time to research the therapy or therapies you are interested in. Adam Brooks, Ph.D., of the Treatment Research Center in Philadelphia told Psychology Today that clients are usually not well-informed about the approach they are considering or how the facility assures the quality of care they will receive. “Handling alternative treatments should be within this context—clients have a right to know, ‘How well does what we do work and what are the risks?’” Brooks said.

Will my health insurance pay for holistic addiction therapies?

Alternative treatments do not come cheap. Some insurance carriers may not cover complementary or alternative medicine practices, but some do. The best course of action is to call your insurance company to see what its policy is. US News & World Report advises you ask questions such as:

Am I covered for this treatment?

Do I need a referral or prescription from my general practitioner?

Will I have to meet a deductible or pay a copay?

Am I limited to a certain number of visits?

It is also advised to ask the company or your treatment provider about additional costs. Knowing about those in advance can help you plan for payment arrangements or seek out another therapy.

Find Quality Addiction Treatment at Chat

California Highlands Addiction Treatment offers clients a safe and comforting place to live as they recover from substance abuse. We also offer customized treatment plans that treat the whole person. If you are in need of addiction treatment, call California Highlands Addiction Treatment to learn more about your options.

Tap to GET HELP NOW: (855) 935-0303