Addiction Treatment & Addiction Therapy Options

Dealing with Relational Heartbreak in Recovery

Dealing with Relational Heartbreak in Recovery

Heartbreak is often a fact of life. You may encounter it when you break up with a significant other, lose a loved one to death or even end a relationship with a longtime friend. Unfortunately, heartbreak can be even more challenging when you are in addiction recovery, because sobriety has to endure through this difficult aspect of life, but emotional times tempt people to relapse, which leads to quite a conflict of interests. While no one wants to plan for heartbreak, it does make sense to consider it a part of life so you can prepare to handle it well. To get help dealing with relational heartbreak in addiction recovery, understand the grief associated with the breakup, explore the research of heartbreak and create a toolbox of strategies to help you get through pain without risking relapse.

Heartbreak and Grief

One of the first emotions associated with heartbreak is grief. Many people understand that grief is a process, not a singular emotion, as it has stages through which you must move to overcome your pain. You can help yourself recover from this problem if you read the post, Dealing with a Breakup or Divorce. For instance, it is important to understand that a breakup represents loss on several levels. You are losing your companion, shared history, support system and (many times) your future plans and dreams. You also need to realize that grief is a natural reaction to loss, so you must allow yourself to grieve the loss of the relationship.

No one eagerly engages in loss. In fact, many people are so fearful of loss that they may endure uncomfortable emotions and situations to avoid it. However, understand that emotions are essential to the healing process of grief, because through the pain of grief you can get help to let go and move forward. Since grieving is a process through which you must move, you can help yourself during this time by using some of the following tips:

  • Do not fight your feelings – While emotions may be painful, you must identify the full range of feelings that you may experience, including anger, resentment, sadness, relief, fear and confusion. If you try to ignore these feelings, then you will only prolong the grieving process.
  • Talk about how you feel – While it may be difficult to talk to other people, knowing that they are aware of your feelings will make you feel more connected with people. If you are particularly uncomfortable about speaking to people you know, then seek a counselor, as these professionals can help you heal from such pain. You can express your feelings in other ways by journaling or through engaging some other artistic form.
  • Remember that moving on is the end goal – Do not get stuck in hurtful feelings that will rob you of valuable energy and prevent you from progressing
  • Remind yourself that you still have a future –As you grieve the loss of the future you once envisioned, be encouraged by the fact that new hopes and dreams will emerge

Moving through grief in a healthy manner will help you avoid risks to your sobriety.

Scientific Support for Healing

In the post, the best way to recover after a breakup, relationship counselor Laura Young, a licensed clinical social worker, told CBS News about research published in Social Psychological and Personality Science: the work suggests that, rather than trying to forget a breakup, repeatedly reflecting on it will actually speed up emotional recovery. In the study, 210 recently separated young adults were divided into two groups; one group engaged in reflective exercises and the other did not. Participants who reflected upon their relationships reported lower levels of loneliness and developed “clear, independent sense[s] of self.” In other words, actively reflecting on a breakup helps people recover better from the resulting pain.

Based on these findings, you can recover from breakup in any of the following ways:

  • Take your time and honor the loss – There is no specific amount of time to have people over the pain of relationships, so take all the time that you need
  • Do your work – Engaging in therapy, self-reflection, self-assessment and counseling can be helpful. Be compassionate to yourself while you are doing the work, so, while you need to hold yourself accountable for your actions, do not beat yourself up.
  • Be curious, not critical – An attitude of curiosity helps you learn from your past and choose a more appropriate partner next time. Stay present to your feelings, be aware and be honest with yourself.
  • Let your friends know what you need – Be clear and tell other people how they can help you
  • Be thankful – If you remember what you are thankful for, then you will keep your heart open

These suggestions help both during the grieving process of your breakup and when you move past the grief.

Heartbreak Recovery Tools

The post, How to Be Strong After a Breakup, gives you some additional tools to deal with heartbreak. For instance, you can move on from pain if you make a list of your positive attributes, say affirmations to yourself and keep yourself busy. Furthermore, little helps people through pain better than exercising, keeping a healthy lifestyle and treating yourself to something special when you succeed. Finally, get involved in the community and forgive yourself to keep moving forward.

Learn More About Dealing with Heartbreak in Recovery

Please call our toll-free helpline as soon as possible to begin addiction recovery as soon as possible. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to answer your questions and to provide you with the resources you need to move through grief without compromising your addiction recovery.