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Grieving an Addiction Loss

An addiction loss is uniquely painful, and the grief can be shattering. Here’s how to cope.

Addiction in America

Remember you’re not alone.

Tragically, countless Americans know how you feel. Overdose is the #1 cause of accidental death in the United States, and hundreds of Americans die each day from alcohol-related health issues.

The Shatterproof Blog

Reach out for support.

Don’t suffer in silence. Talk to your friends and family. Try being open about how you’re feeling, and you may be surprised by the love and support you receive in return. For many of us, after keeping our feelings about a loved one’s addiction bottled up for so long, it can be hard to find the words at first. Reading others’ personal stories can help.

Learn about addiction science

Don’t blame yourself.

Addiction is not a character flaw, or a moral failing, or something you could have “fixed.” It’s an illness just like any other, and it impacted your loved one’s brain and body.

Consider attending a support meeting. 

Grief can feel like a cloud over your entire life. It can make it hard to function on a day-to-day basis. You may find yourself becoming forgetful, angry, or depressed. This is normal, and you don’t have to suffer alone. Here are just a few grief group resources to check out. 

Don’t let stigma stop you from celebrating your loved one’s life. 

Your loved one was unique. They were loved. And you should honor their memory however you like. Too often, stigma and fear of judgement prevents families from discussing their loss. But you can fight back against this unjust stigma.  

Write an honest obituary. Share happy memories, frame old photos, and practice gratitude for the time you shared together. Addiction can never take your love away.

Add your loved one to Shatterproof's National Addiction Memorial.


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Join the movement to stop this from happening to other families. 

Shatterproof was created after our founder, Gary Mendell, lost his son Brian. We understand the pain that follows an addiction loss, and together, we can turn that pain into action. Advocate for change today. 

With your help, we can empower change.

Support our mission to increase access to recovery, prevention, and mental health resources for everyone who needs them.
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