Grief and loss

Download page

There is a multitude of different sources of grief and loss, and clients in AOD settings are often highly likely to experience these emotions for a variety of reasons. Feelings of grief or loss are often associated with traumatic experiences. It is also common for AOD clients to have lost partners, family members or friends as a result of drug use. Finally, receiving treatment for AOD issues is likely to cause feelings of loss due to the heavy role AOD use plays in the client’s life [1014]. Symptoms of grief and loss fall into a number of categories including [1014]:

  • Emotional – feelings of shock, numbness, disbelief, loss of control, fear, panic, confusion, anger, sadness, guilt, desire to blame, or hostility. The person is likely to fluctuate between different emotional states.
  • Psychological – in addition to these emotions, clients may also have a preoccupation with the deceased, or a sense of the presence of the deceased. Temporary cognitive impairments are also common (e.g., concentration and memory complaints).
  • Physical/behavioural/social – inappropriate behaviour (e.g., laughter), gastro-intestinal complaints, decreased sex drive, tension, headaches, sleep disturbances, fatigue, lethargy, avoidant or absentminded behaviour, withdrawal, social interaction changes, appetite changes, restlessness, crying, or obsessive behaviour.