Should You Date When Recovering from Drug Addiction?

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One of the cardinal rules of recovery is that you shouldn't get involved in romantic relationships for at least a year.

Drug addiction counselors and veteran members of 12-step programs will warn newly recovering addicts of the potential pitfalls of dating too early, and many addiction experts agree that the early stages of recovery can be a rocky time to start a relationship.

Lifestyle

One of the most important things to consider about dating during recovery is your lifestyle. Now that you're no longer using drugs, it will be important to make sure your relationships are not a threat to your sobriety.

Dr. David Sack, an addiction psychiatrist, says that a recovering addict may need a partner who is willing to avoid drinking or using drugs. This person may also need to be willing to attend support groups or recovery-related social events with you.

Sometimes, Sack notes, this person will even need to encourage you to put recovery over the needs of the relationship – which is not an easy task for most people not familiar with addiction.

Relapse

For recovering addicts, relapse is always a possibility. If you're focusing too much on a romantic partnership at the expense of your recovery program, you might slip up.

"As a chronic brain disease, the threat of relapse is ever-present – an estimated 40 to 60 percent of addicts relapse," Sacks writes on Psychology Today.

Long-term members of programs like AA and NA tend to warn that relationships can be most dangerous to recovery because they take up too much time and focus for a newly sober person. It's also common to use another person as a "replacement addiction," where you swap your old drug addiction for the promise of good feelings that tend to accompany a new relationship.

Baggage

It's no secret that many addicts tend to come with a lot of emotional baggage. Working through these issues is paramount in recovery, and it's not likely you're even ready for a romantic relationship until you've had some time to process what were probably difficult times in the throws of your addiction.

"All of these [issues] can be difficult to understand," Sacks says. "Addicts tend to do crazy things."

If you've been in recovery for a while, the best thing to do before dating is talk to your sponsor, therapist or addiction counselor about your progress. This person can most effectively assess readiness for that type of commitment.

"Despite having a thorny past, recovering addicts can be some of the healthiest, most put-together individuals you’ll meet – with a few important stipulations," Sacks explains. "These provisos are in place to give addicts a fair shot at lasting recovery."

Source: Psychology Today

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