??????????????????????????????????????It’s not unnatural to experience some of the stages of grief on the road to addiction recovery. It’s a complete life change. It’s normal to grieve the things you feel you’re losing in recovery. You could be ending friendships that you’ve known for a long time because those friendships will hinder your recovery. And, even though you know the substance causes you and others pain, you will probably grieve the loss of it as well.

When things become normal, it’s hard to adapt to a new lifestyle, which means doing so could cause some form of grief. There are five identified stages of grief that don’t necessarily happen in this order: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Some of these stages may be experienced at the very beginning of the recovery journey. You may first experience denial that there is even a problem. Denial can also come in the form of making you think that you’re not at risk of relapse. Maybe you’re denying that a person or environment could trigger cravings so you’re allowing yourself to continue to be in that environment or around that person.

You could experience anger on the road to recovery. You could be angry at yourself for your past, you could be angry at others during the journey. You may also just be angry at your current circumstances.

In the bargaining stage, you may be thinking a lot about the ifs, ands and buts. Maybe you’ve been wishing you had done things differently. You may also be having a hard time pulling yourself out of the past and moving onto the future.

It’s probably no surprise to you that you may experience depression during the recovery stage. You’ve been through so much on your journey. You’ve hurt and been hurt. You’ve struggled and found yourself in a place where change needed to happen for you to have a better future. You not only have to work through the past, but also your present and set your thoughts on where you want to be in the future. You need to give up things you had become comfortable with in order to find things that are better for you. It’s a lot to deal with.

Acceptance is of course the stage we all want to get to. The stage where we accept the truth about our situation, when we accept we need help and what we need to do in order to stay sober. This is the stage where we realize that we need to accept recovery every day and make it a priority in order to succeed.

Know that it’s completely normal to experience the different stages of grief along the way, just keep working through them and remember that it will all be worth it. There is real freedom in letting go of the shackles of substance use.