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I feel like I’ve lost them twice

I feel like I’ve lost them twice – once to the drugs/alcohol and now they have died

When someone dies as a result of using alcohol or drugs it may be after a long period of addiction or time spent using drugs or alcohol.

You may already be exhausted from years of coping.

It is common to feel that the death is actually the second time you have lost the person.

This can have an effect on how you grieve and cope following a death from drugs or alcohol - Living with drugs and alcohol

The impact of life beforehand on how you grieve

The issues you coped with before your loved one died will carry over into your bereavement.

Emotions: You may still be feeling some of the emotions related to their addiction. These feelings may become stronger after their death, and may become more difficult to accept. Anger, fear, helplessness, responsibility, guilt, blame, shame and regret are all common.

Practical issues: You may be left with practical problems as a result of your friend or family member’s drug or alcohol use. These can include debt, housing issues, problems with health and being isolated.

Memories: After living with addiction, you may find it difficult to remember your loved one before drugs or alcohol were a problem. Intrusive memories of a difficult or traumatic death can also make it difficult to remember happier times.

Other losses: When someone dies in difficult circumstances, perhaps many years before they should have, there are other losses to cope with. You may have hoped that you could save them, or that they would recover. This hope is now lost, and with it the relationship you could have had, and the potential person they could have become.

Unanswered questions: New unanswered questions about how and why your friend or family member died may join any unanswered questions you already had about their addiction. You may never get answers to all your questions, and this can be difficult to live with. It can make it very difficult to feel a sense of closure or find meaning in your loved one’s life and death.

These factors all contribute to making grief following a death from drugs or alcohol a complicated and painful process.

You can read more about the experience of grief, and how others have coped, on other pages in this section [grieving].

You can also find out more about practical issues [practicalities] or how to get support [get support].

See also