Relationship between Drug Use and Grief

The Relationship between Drug Use and Grief

A growing body of research demonstrates the relationship between a highly stressful event and the use of drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with and numb the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual responses. Grief is a highly stressful event, especially when the grief is of a traumatic origin. In a review of the literature, Jacobsen, Southwich and Kosten (2001) reported that following such a stressful event people who are nondrinkers or nondrug users begin to use and then abuse these substances. Those who were moderate drinkers and drug users often used more and people in recovery from alcohol or drug addiction often relapsed following the tragic event.

Jacobsen, L. K., Southwick, S. M., & Kosten, T. R. (2001). Substance use disorders in patients with post traumatic stress disorder: A review of the literature. American Journal of Psychiatry, 158 (8), 1184-90.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Results from the 2006 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: National Findings (Office of Applied Studies, NSDUH Series H-32, DHHS Publication No. SMA 07-4293). Rockville, MD, 2007.

Johnston LD, O’Malley PM, Bachman JG, Schulenberg JE. Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975-2006. Volume I: Secondary school students (NIH Publication No. 07-6205). Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2007.


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