Unresolved grief and loss issues related to substance abuse
Moss, Davina A.
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Research has shown that heroin addicts have low recovery rates following detoxification and have a high treatment recidivism rate. The heroin addicts will usually relapse at least 72 hours following discharge from treatment and these addicts do not have appropriate coping skills to prevent a relapse. There has been research that compares the loss of substances similar to a death or a grief and loss issue. The past research does not address the relationship that the addict has with the heroin. This study, however, examined the losses related to the heroin use that the addict experienced due to ending the relationship with the drug. The qualitative research method of grounded theory for data collection and analysis was used. The principal investigator interviewed 12 heroin addicts in a detoxification facility one time each discussing the losses related to the addiction and the grief the addicts experienced while in treatment. The analysis indicated that the recovering heroin addicts have a strong bond or relationship with the heroin during the developmental stage of use and the result is an enmeshment with the components of the heroin addiction. This analysis also revealed that the recovering heroin addict has difficulty ending their relationship with the drug and this result is unresolved grief and disenfranchised grief if not addressed in treatment. The categories that emerged from the data were: the heroin relationship , losses , lack of coping skills and treatment not addressing the problem . The results of the study add to the addiction literature because it takes an in-depth examination of the emotional attachment to heroin and its counterparts. This study also reveals the lack of coping skills to resolve the grieving issues related emotional attachment with the heroin.