For many individuals, the physical, emotional and mental aspects of recovery are very challenging. The first few months can be filled with a variety of intense feelings, including drug cravings, insomnia, agitation and depression. To counteract those feelings and fill the void, people often look to the comfort of a new relationship. But trying to maintain an existing relationship or dating someone in early recovery is not recommended by most health professionals. In fact, most 12-step programs advise waiting a period of one year before dating or having relationships. If you need help for dating in recovery, contact the professional staff at White Sands Fort Myers today at (877) 855-3470.
Taking it slow with relationships in early recovery is important for several reasons. First, recovery takes an extraordinary amount of time to be fully committed. Individuals have therapy sessions, 12 step program meetings, and a variety of structured activities to participate in with groups and as individuals. Second, recovery takes one hundred percent of an individual’s focus. People who are recovering need to explore their reasons for wanting a relationship and ensure they are not just using it as a distraction to working on recovering. Addicts who were previously dating someone prior to entering a recovery program need to talk with their partner about taking things slow, particularly during the first year of recovery.
Stressors and Addiction
The primary reason experts caution against dating someone in early recovery is that addicts need a solid amount of time to establish new, healthy habits. Introducing stressors into the equation too early is dangerous because it taps into the portions of the human brain related to addiction before the brain has had a chance to learn new habits.
In recovery, addicts are just learning, often for the first time, how to feel emotions again and how to love themselves. Even positive feelings we associate with love and intimacy can be too difficult to handle emotionally. In fact, having relationships in early recovery is one of the leading causes of relapse. Because recovery is so complex, there are many things the individual needs to work through before they can successfully begin dating in recovery, including maintaining an existing relationship.
Choosing the Right Partner
People who return to dating too soon find themselves reverting to old patterns, including making poor choices by choosing partners who are less mature. This can include partners who are codependent and require significant amount of the recovering individual’s time and energy. Be especially aware of potential partners who exhibit angry or erratic behavior and those who could become abusive.
With the digital age, it’s easier than ever to get involved with people you don’t even know. Be safe about meeting new people, especially online. Be aware if you are dating someone in early recovery and you notice tendencies towards addictive behavior. Establish relationships with people who have common interests from community organizations and new groups you associate with, rather than old neighborhoods and previous hangouts. Focus on friendship first or getting to know people in a group environment before proceeding to intimate relationships.
Recovery is designed to be a time of focus, personal reflection and self care. Individuals should steer clear from engaging in any serious relationships in early recovery, as it could prevent them from successfully completing their program. A good approach is to take things slow for the first year of recovery, and hold off on making major life decisions revolving around relationships, including moving in together, getting married or having children. Focus on developing lifetime friendships with groups of people with like-minded interests, and romantic relationships will blossom naturally.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.