Research and Evaluation Final: Efficacy of Group Therapy on Grieving Addicts
Addiction is a disease of the brain, characterized by its inability to abstain consistently ("American Society of Addiction Medicine," 2015). Addiction is often a lifelong struggle and is associated with many issues outside of illegal drugs (Terrazas, Todd, & Harp, 2015) The issues associated with addiction are tremendous and have a lasting and devastating effect on the lives of addicts, creating many levels of loss for the addict who suffers. The types of loss associated with addiction are often not socially recognized and often overlooked. Losses associated with this lifestyle are disenfranchised and not grieved, as they are not socially recognized. Addicts often struggle to move forward with the process of recovery as they struggle to grieve the losses taken on in active addiction. This paper will look at research and literature asking the question, “What is the efficacy of group counseling on recovering addicts who suffer from disenfranchised grief?”
Grief, when disenfranchised, lacks social support (Doka & Matin, 2002). Addiction thrives on secrecy (Alexander, 2012). Grief and addiction together are a catalyst for the crisis. Disenfranchised grief is often referred to as hidden sorrow, it is the grief that society does not understand, publically mourned or socially accepted, as it is not usually associated with death (Selby, 2007). Disenfranchised grief is a struggle associated with most recovering addicts, as the grief is usually unresolved and often contributes to behaviors that keep addicts using (Wilson, 2011). The consequences, of, not attending to the repercussions of the losses, are so far-reaching that they have implications for depressive symptoms (Selby, 2007). Addicts may not fully understands the role that this type of grief plays in their recovery, but it is critical to their healing experience. Understanding what losses that the addict in recovery has experienced is critical to the healing process. These are not limited to but can include: abortion, miscarriage, stillborn, loss of child to welfare system, the drug itself, family ties, jobs, freedom, dreams, goals, friends, their looks, their health, their home, their marriage, being raped, acquiring a disease, murder, pets, and dignity to name a few (Sander, 2015; Worden, 2002). Boyd (1993) specifically speaks of the evidence of the effects of grief and addiction in the findings related to a survey and descriptive longitudinal five-year study on cocaine and crack users. Findings were related to abuse, relationships issues, parental issues and the drug them itself (Boyd, 1993) Shelby (2007) explains that often this type of grief is seen as anxiety, somatic symptoms, depression or continued addictive behaviors, instead of the actual issue of grief. Research points to the fact that approximately 35 % of the world’s population does or has suffered from grief, and only a mere 10% of these people will seek out help ("Loss-Grief," 2014) and limited information is available on the numbers who suffer from disenfranchised grief, but with current research showing that 11% of Americans suffer from some form of addiction (Volkow, 2007). Statistically, one can only shudder to think of the number of people suffering from grief related to addiction.
Research Supporting Group Therapy
A critical premise established in the literature conveys the necessity of the grieving to utilize groups support as a means of finding common ground and methods to recover from grief (Abrahams & Kingley, 2010; Janowiak, Mei-Tal, & Drapkin, 2001; 2001, Lenhart, 1997, Riordan & Allen, 1989, Worden, 2002). Group therapy is known to engage in activities and feedback that is interactive, methods that are supportive and a focus on the here-and-now, which fosters healing and growth in