Getting Through a Breakup without Drugs
A heartbroken young woman emailed us last week asking how to deal with her grief and depression without resorting to drugs. She had recently split with a long term boyfriend and described the state of constant pain and anguish that typically drives a person to reach for something that will dull the pain.
This is more common than you think. When you go through a breakup, it feels like the walls are caving in and life is over. There’s the sickness in your stomach that prevents you from eating, the anxiety that keeps you up at night, and the depression that sits on you like a three ton elephant so you don’t do anything all day but stare out the window and cry. These emotions are incredibly painful but they are common for experiencing a loss.
Loss usually works in three stages. First is denial or shock, where you feel the full force of the heartbreak and can’t believe it’s really happening. This is the part where it seems like life is over and suicidal thoughts creep in. Once you get through this initial stage (which you will), comes the anger and/or depression. This is the body all torn up from the shot right to the chest. You’re a mess for a long time, reeling from the loss. Eventually you move into the third stage of healing and acceptance.
It’s not easy to get through these stages and it’s very tempting to turn to drugs or alcohol to dull the pain. Only problem is those things will create much more of a hell than the heartbreak. It doesn’t allow you to heal or move through the stages. Substance abuse will only stall you in the bad feelings instead of helping you adjust to the new you and your new life.
The best way to get through a traumatic upheaval that results in heartbreak and grief is to surround yourself with friends and loved ones who will listen to you, grieve with you, burn pictures of your ex, and indulge in chocolate ice cream and pampering. You can’t heal from a wound if you’re pouring salt on it and that’s what drugs and alcohol do during the recovering process.
Remove all reminders of your lost relationship from your life and focus on new things that are uniquely yours. When you’re tempted to dull the pain with substance abuse, remember that the pain will always be waiting for you when the buzz wears off and there will be no end in sight if you develop an addiction to pain killers or alcohol. Instead, get some recovery support and allow your heart to mend. Ask anyone who lost a love and you’ll hear the same. The sting of the pain never goes away, but you eventually move on and find happiness and love again. But that’s harder to find if you’re struggling with an addiction from trying to dull the pain.
Stay strong and get out there in the sunshine.