Alcohol Abuse and Grief

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Monday, September 26, 2022

When grieving, many people turn to things that can comfort or distract them from the pain. It is not uncommon for some people to reach for a bottle of alcohol for this. For many people, alcohol can serve as a way to avoid the pain of loss or numb feelings of grief. However, alcohol is a problematic tool for avoiding feelings. Abusing alcohol can be dangerous to your health, and others as well. During grieving periods, people are especially susceptible to picking up unhealthy habits that provide temporary solutions to their pain, such as substance abuse. This article will discuss mindfulness around alcohol, and ways to avoid alcohol abuse. We will also provide tools for seeking help for those who may feel like they have an alcohol abuse problem. 

Alcohol Use and Grief

Alcohol use while dealing with grief can be a dangerous and slippery slope. While some people may celebrate the life of the deceased with drinks during the repast, it is important to understand when drinking goes too far. Repeatedly getting drunk to avoid the pain of loss is not healthy, for several reasons. For one, high amounts of alcohol can be damaging to the body. But, alcohol use to numb the pain prevents you from actually working through your grief. Grief isn’t easy, but running away from the pain isn’t good either. Even if you need to take baby steps, acknowledging and facing your grief is a lot more healthy than drowning it in a bottle of liquor. 

Mindfulness Regarding Drinking Through Grief

Occasional alcohol use is OK. But it is important to be mindful of how much alcohol you are consuming. Binge drinking frequently is not healthy. But, when you are grieving it can be even more dangerous. If you continue drinking, try to be self-aware and curb your alcohol consumption while you are still in the process of grieving. Consider tracking how much you drink each time you do. There are even apps for tracking alcohol content, just like calorie counters. Tracking your alcohol consumption can help you be more mindful of how much you are drinking, and can help you curb it. 

Identifying Triggers

What is causing you to reach for a bottle? Are their things reminding you of your loved one? Are there people in your life causing you further grief? Or perhaps there are people in your life that are simply enabling this behavior? Identifying triggers can help you better adjust this behavior, or address it healthily. Consider having a discussion with friends and family about your alcohol use during your grief, and ask them to help you be mindful of enabling drinking in large quantities. It is understandable to want to spend time with friends after the loss of a loved one, but it doesn’t always have to be at a bar. 

Managing Sobriety While Grieving

Sobriety can be a challenge to uphold in general. But feelings of grief can make it harder to resist vices. While numbing the pain away with alcohol can be enticing, it is important to remember the pains that you went through to seek sobriety in the first place. Be sure to speak with your sobriety group and/or your sponsor about the struggles you are having during this difficult time in your life. They may be able to help keep you on the right path. 

Seeking Help With Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse and alcoholism can be difficult habits to break. Unfortunately, there aren’t cut-and-dry solutions for everyone. Managing sobriety can be difficult when you begin to rely on a substance. Binge drinking or frequent drinking can come with health risks. To visit the NYC Health Department’s page on alcohol use, which includes treatment services and resources, click here.

The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are several resources out there. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

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