Alcohol and Grief: a bad idea

If you’ve recently suffered the loss of a loved one it may be tempting to drown your sorrows in a bottle of alcohol. Hanging out with your friends Jim, Jack and Jose may initially seem like a good way to escape your sadness but it’s one of the worst things you can do for yourself.  Having a toast in the name of your loved one might sound like a nice idea but it could spiral into unhealthy coping very quickly.  Here’s why using alcohol while going through grief is a bad idea:

  1. Alcohol is a depressant.  Depression is a normal part of the grieving process. By adding a depressant to an already depressing situation, you will eventually only feel more depressed.
  2. Alcohol can initially seem to help you escape your pain but drinking might suppress your feelings, ultimately prolonging your journey through grief.
  3. Alcohol may numb your pain in the short term but the intensity of the grief process will probably increase as time goes on. And because alcohol is addicting and tolerance develops, you may end up drinking more and more of it to try and escape.
  4. By drinking in an effort to avoid the pain of loss, you may end up developing something very difficult to overcome in other ways- an addiction to alcohol.
  5. Alcohol weakens the body’s immune system. The amount of stress associated with the death of a loved one can also lower our ability to stay physically healthy and well. We do ourselves no favors by adding alcohol to our grief process.

It’s hard to know the “right” way to maneuver through the jungle of grief emotions. Keep in mind there really is no one right way to do it.  Focus on what’s healthy and helpful. Steer clear from alcohol, drugs and other unhealthy and harmful ways of coping with your pain. Seek the guidance of a grief counselor if you need help determining the best way for you to get through this difficult time.

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About the Author
The authors who write for Grieving and Growing are licensed mental health professionals specializing in grief and bereavement. For more information please go to
I'm Grieving, Now What?