Most experts don’t recommend starting a new relationship until you have at least a year in recovery. There are several good reasons for this. One is that relationships are distracting. It’s important to focus on treatment and recovery and building a strong support network and dating tends to take time away from those efforts. Second, relationships can introduce a lot of stress into your life. New relationships are great at first, but they can also cause emotional turmoil that may lead to cravings. Finally, people with substance use issues often have unhealthy relationship patterns and having a long break from relationships can give you time to reflect and heal before trying again. The next question that comes up is whether it’s a good idea to date someone else who is recovering from a substance use disorder.
As with many questions, the answer is that it depends. There are definitely advantages to dating someone else in recovery. First, you meet a lot of other people in recovery both in treatment and at 12-step meetings and you are likely to be attracted to some of those people. It’s easy to get to know people when you spend time together regularly, especially if you’re sharing personal stories.
Perhaps most importantly, you each understand something about the other that most people won’t get. Only about 10 percent of the population will develop a serious substance use problem and they often feel like the other 90 percent can’t possibly understand what it’s like. When addiction is a major part of your life, it’s nice to have a partner who really gets it. On a related note, dating someone in recovery allows you to avoid awkward explanations of why you’re not drinking or why you’d rather not go to a party. As long as you’re both committed to sobriety, you can support each other will little or no need for explanations.
There are also potential drawbacks to dating someone else in recovery. One is that you may not share the same commitment to recovery. If you’re working hard and the other is just skating by, it’s easy to get a bit complacent. If the person you’re dating does happen to relapse, that can make things very difficult for you. Not only is it hard to see someone you care about spiral out of control, but now someone close to you is drinking and using drugs. That can be a real challenge to your recovery.
Generally speaking, if you’re both committed to recovery and have been in recovery for at least a year, dating can be mutually beneficial. You each understand what the other needs and you don’t have a situation where the person is drinking or using drugs while you stay sober. It’s also important that you each are independently committed to recovery. You don’t want a situation where one of you depends too much on the other to stay sober. Have your own sober networks and recovery plans. If you do those things, a relationship between two people in recovery can work very well.
Arbor Behavioral Healthcare offers an integrative and holistic approach to treat substance abuse and a wide variety of addictions, as well as underlying mental health and psychological issues. All of the addiction recovery programs offered by The Arbor are designed to heal the mind, body, and spirit leading to a lifetime of sobriety, health and wellness. If you’re ready to find healing and restoration in a peaceful, loving environment, please call us today at 844-560-7269.
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