When grieving a loss from substance use, individuals may experience a wide range of complex and intense emotions. Some common emotions experienced during this type of grief include:


The loss of a loved one due to substance use can evoke profound sadness. It may be accompanied by feelings of emptiness, sorrow, and a deep sense of loss.


Grief related to substance use can often be accompanied by feelings of guilt. Survivors may experience guilt for not being able to prevent substance use or for not being able to save their loved ones from an overdose.


Anger is a common emotion in the grieving process. Individuals may feel anger towards the person who struggled with substance use, the use itself, the circumstances surrounding the loss, or even towards themselves for various reasons.


Grieving a loss from substance use can be accompanied by feelings of shame. Society’s stigma and judgments associated with addiction can lead to feelings of shame and self-blame


The complex nature of addiction and loss from substance use can lead to confusion and a sense of being overwhelmed. Individuals may struggle to understand why the substance use occurred or why their loved one couldn’t overcome it.


Feelings of regret can arise when grieving a loss from substance use. Survivors may wish they had done things differently or that they had been able to provide more help or support to their loved ones.

Loneliness & Isolation

Grief from substance use loss can sometimes bring a sense of isolation. Survivors may feel alone in their experience due to the stigma associated with addiction, and they may find it challenging to connect with others who understand their specific grief.


In cases where the individual who passed away had been suffering from substance use for a long time, survivors may experience a mix of emotions that include a sense of relief. This relief may be due to the end of their loved one’s pain and suffering.

It’s important to note that everyone grieves differently, and individuals may experience a unique combination of these emotions or additional emotions not listed here. Grief is a highly individual process, and it’s important to allow oneself the time and space to experience and express these emotions in a way that feels authentic and healing.

Seeking support from trusted friends, family, support groups, or grief counselors can be beneficial during this challenging time. WakeUp Carolina has a new substance use disorder grief support group, “ Living With Loss,” on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm with trauma counselor Abby Foster, LISW-CP, MAC, for people grieving from losing a loved one to addiction, substance use, or a substance-related death.

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