Addiction is a toxic and destructive force that destroys the sufferer’s life and rips through their family and circle of friends. While it can be a slow and excruciating decline, the most painful part of dealing with addiction is when your loved one has finally crossed the point of no return and suffered a fatal overdose. Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicates that over 72,000 Americans died from drug overdose in 2017. Most of these fallen have whole communities who care about them and are left destroyed in the aftermath of their tragic deaths. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach on how to deal with a death from addiction, there are some common ways to gradually heal yourself and the people around you as you struggle to pick up the pieces and move on.
Avoid Blaming Yourself For Death Caused By Overdose
Loved ones of addicts have a tendency to claim culpability in their addiction and subsequent overdose. In cases where the addict’s initial substance abuse is driven by the actions of toxic or dysfunctional family relationships, those responsible will often fail or refuse to see how their actions led to their loved one’s overdose. The reality is that addiction can happen to anyone, as illustrated by the over 24 million people who currently struggle with substance use disorder. Whether you’re a parent, child, sibling, spouse, relative or friend of an addict, you need to know that they can get drugs or alcohol from practically anywhere these days and, unless you supplied them with drugs or alcohol yourself, you are not responsible for their actions.
Seek Professional Help For Grief
Data indicates that over 70 percent of Americans experience trauma throughout the course of their lives and 20 percent of that population develops post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result. Traumatic bereavement is one of the leading causes of PTSD you are not alone in your suffering following your family member or friend’s untimely passing. Working through your grief with a trauma-trained mental health professional can help you safely and effectively process the event and develop coping mechanisms to avoid guilt-related erratic behavior like self-harm or substance use of your own. This professional can be anyone from a board-certified psychiatrist or the counselor at your school or university. There are also numerous phone and Internet resources to help you through your grief, including SAMHSA’s comprehensive directory of literature.
Lean On Your Friends And Family For Support
Remember that you’re not the only one who is going through this tragedy. There are others who are feeling the stinging and lasting pan of this loss and can provide support in these enormously difficult times. They may also need your help in getting through this death and helping them can actually bring you relief. Leaning on your network of support is one of the most effective means of getting through the everyday struggle following this profound loss. Whether it’s your family or family and mutual friends of the deceased, you have people who are hurting right alongside you, and you can heal together.
Find Your Own Way Of Coping
Each and every person’s method of coping with bereavement is different. It’s important that you find the things in life that make life worth living following this tragedy. This could mean honoring your fallen loved one by taking a more active role in your recovery community; losing yourself in a new interest; changing your scenery or anything else. Finding your own happiness helps to reduce the everyday impact until you can at least learn to live with it without blaming yourself or reliving over and over again in your mind. Be present and be active in life.
-Don’t retreat into isolation.
Get Addiction Treatment If You Need It
It’s not uncommon for friends of addicts to struggle with substance use disorder themselves. Some of these people even have the profound misfortune of being there when their friend overdoses. If both you and your friend are active drug or alcohol abusers, and they overdosed, consider it a wake-up call and get yourself into treatment immediately. Every day is another chance to start fighting back from drug or alcohol addiction, get the help you need today.
- www.cnn.com – US drug overdose deaths rose 7% in 2017 and doubled over a decade
- samhsa.gov – Substance Use and Mental Health Estimates from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Overview of Findings
- sidran.org – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Fact Sheet
- adaa.org – Post traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- store.samhsa.gov – Grief