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Grief vs. Love Addiction Withdrawal

By Jim Hall MS, Love Addiction Specialist,
Author, Online Recovery Coach

Are you a love addict and grieving from a relationship break up or love loss?

Does the pain feel unusually intense and painful with ongoing obsessive thoughts about your ex and the relationship you just had?

Most people who experience a relationship loss, or any important life loss for that matter, typically experience a common cyclical grieving process of varying duration that is universal and a very real part of life.

Five universal stages of grief include:

1. Denial/Shock
2. Guilt
3. Anger
4. Depression/Despair
5. Bargaining

6. Acceptance
*Kubler- Ross

The grieving process differs from individual to individual and from one loss to another.

Grieving for a love addict is beyond the normal grief... it's a true double whammy!

If people allow the grief process run their course, validate their feelings, etc. (healthy grieving), they are able to move forward in a healthy manner.

For love addicts however, the normal stages of grieving evolves into morbid and/or pathological grief process, characterized by obsession, denial, chronic depression, avoidance of normal activities and powerful desire to escape from reality.

It's pathological because the grief is tethered to the addiction aspect to what was lost. The grief turns into extremely painful withdrawal where you feel crazy, even like dying.

Healthy grief releases feelings rather than allowing them to be stuck in the body and mind. Healthy grief allows the griever to feel the loss, heal the loss and move on with life.

The love addict's intense grief in withdrawal, is in reality a trigger from:

  • Loss of fantasy (of relationship; who you thought or 'madeup'  about your partner)
  • Childhood abandonment; trauma
  • Unresolved grief from past losses (usually from childhood; but can be losses in adulthood)
  • Familiarity; Rituals; Dependency

It is necessary for addicts to grieve the loss of their addiction if healing is to occur. 

After all, the addiction provided at some level, and for amount of time, gains, and familiarity. Addicts come to miss the rituals surrounding their compulsive or acting-out behaviors (the fantasy). 

The places, patterns, and activities were built into their life just as solidly as a job or home and changing these is difficult and painful. Although dysfunctional, there is the loss of emotional and situational predictability in the dysfunction.


It's important to be mindful...

That experiencing the craving of your addiction
(i.e., relationship partner) is normal and common.

Craving something deeply doesn't mean that what
is gone was good for you.


Craving does not mean something is wrong with you, or that you

necessarily want to continue destructive behaviors/patterns.


Craving a substance, behavior, or person in any addiction
is especially normal in withdrawal- craving, grieving and...

... grieving and withdrawal is certainly not fun to go through; and no doubt very
painful (but is necessary to see the light)




To break-through grief and withdrawal of an addiction, it is important addicts allow themselves to  grieve the loss (feel, and validate your emotions; without letting them control you) of what provided comfort, even if that comfort was temporary and toxic.



To try and escape it with denial, suppression, or by medicating the feelings will lead to the continuation of the addiction or slipping into or switching to another addiction.






About the Author: 
Jim Hall MS, is a Love Addiction Specialist, Online Recovery Coach, and Author of 3 Books on Love Addiction and Recovering. As a leading expert, Through his writings and online recovery practice, Jim offers much hope for those struggling with love addiction- to discover a healthy and solid path to break free from obsessive love patterns as well support and guidance to overcome the acute discomfort of breakup love withdrawal.


If you are grieving from a relationship loss and are ready to overcome the pain, order
The Breakup Recovery Workbook for the Love Addict