Completing a professional rehab program for a substance use disorder is just the beginning step along the long road to maintaining a sober life and being active in the recovery process.
Establishing a multi-faceted support network is key to keeping accountability and making recovery an everyday priority. Even with a successful foundation, the road to recovery can be filled with challenges that make staying the course difficult. One such challenge you may encounter involves the complications of romantic relationships.
Dating in Recovery
Why are romantic relationships challenging in recovery? A major reason is the all-consuming potential of a relationship, particularly to someone who is in a vulnerable state after going through an intense life change. It can be easy to replace a substance addiction with another type of addiction, such as a potentially unhealthy romantic relationship. Love addiction can lead to a codependent relationship that can not only cause relapse but also turn into both emotional and physical abuse.
This very real possibility leads to the common conception that dating in recovery should be avoided for at least a year.
While this is a good general rule of thumb to help ensure the best odds of maintaining sobriety during and after a rehab program, this does not mean it is an absolute rule. No two people are the same, so no two timelines for dating in recovery or dating after rehab are the same.
The best predictor of future results is past results, and past results show that 45 percent of people in the United States that enter a substance use disorder treatment program also have a co-occurring disorder to address. This is a lot for any one person to unpack and sort without complicating the dynamic with a significant other.
Dealing with underlying mental health issues and recovering from substance misuse take time to properly manage. Rushing into a relationship too quickly can derail both parties involved from a positive and enriching life.
Challenges of Entering a Relationship Newly Sober
The major challenge to entering a relationship while newly sober is to remember to take the time to heal yourself first and foremost. It can be easy to get lost in pleasing another person, especially when a relationship is new. The need to please may even be enhanced due to a sense of shame from struggling with a substance use disorder. There is no need for shame, but without taking the time and therapeutic practices to deeply understand that fact, it can be easy to lose your footing on the road to recovery.
A way to fill a void that you may feel in life without a relationship while newly sober is through your support network. Support groups are one of many recovery resources you can utilize to find like-minded people who can understand what you have been through and be there for you when times get tough. This gives you a sense of community and camaraderie without the pressures and expectations of a romantic relationship.
Remember, the primary focus of recovery is the individual self. Every person’s recovery is as unique as every person, so there is never a right or wrong way to approach sobriety or dating in recovery. As long as you are taking care of yourself and your health first and foremost, it is up to your discretion on how to handle romance. To find out more about how recovery can work for you and your loved ones, contact us today. The call is confidential, available 24/7, and free.