With newfound sobriety, confidence and self-esteem are surely on the rise. Getting back to knowing who you are without addiction leading the way is not only exhilarating, but also rewarding. As individuals begin feeling how wonderful life is sober, there’s an urge to share life’s excitement with a significant other. While this is a natural or even primal sensation, it can have lasting effects on recovery, if taken lightly.
Dating someone in recovery for a drug addiction should be approached with caution. In fact, it’s recommended to wait at least one year before venturing out on the dating scene. This is not a means of control or a lack of faith in the individual’s sobriety. Rather, it’s within a year’s time that a person is able to fully develop trigger management and sober coping. Living sober is all about adapting to a new lifestyle. This allows time to adjust before jumping into the next rewarding adventure.
Strengthen Your Relationship With Yourself First
We’ve all heard it before. You need to care for yourself before you can care for another. While this may sound cliche, it has good meaning. The saying refers to the groundwork done within to strengthen the connection and dedication to your own desires and requirements. In this case, health and sobriety are on the line.
The 12-step program is designed to get a better understanding of where you fit into the world. While working through the steps, you will work to heal wounds, mend existing relationships, and build confidence. However, it’s not only self-confidence in its traditional form that must be solidified before dating someone in recovery. A structured and secure foundation for sobriety and goal-oriented lifestyle choices must also be maintained daily.
Time Frame to Consider Dating Someone in Recovery After Drug Addiction Treatment
Realistically, a person should have been able to successfully maintain their sobriety for a full year before getting involved. This time frame typically begins after completing and exiting a residential program and being able to maintain good health ongoing. Relying on the 12 Steps, lessons, and counseling as a solid foundation creates a safe space for your recovery. This safe space you’ve worked to create can always be turned back to and relied on. It can provide comfort and security, especially in troubling times.
Jumping into dating someone in recovery soon after drug addiction treatment leaves too much room for error. Taking into consideration how long an addiction took to develop and how long it lasted should be a decent marker. However, for those who have suffered from their addiction for a prolonged amount of time, this doesn’t mean never. It simply means having a firm stance on rejecting urges that can arise based on the many emotions involved in a relationship. All good things, such as a healthy sober life, take time.
A Solid Aftercare Routine Is a New Lifestyle Before Dating
When and if things get tricky, which they tend to do on occasion when dating, priorities to your sober health matter. This will mean that a year is a good starting point. After that, you may feel as though you are ready to get your feet wet on the dating scene. Then again, you may not feel quite ready for it, and that’s okay too. Now however, it is going to be even more essential to stay involved in meetings and sober groups. Keeping a regular schedule for counseling and essential programs are the foundation that all has been worked toward. Remember, recovery and sobriety must always remain a top priority, matters of the heart aside.
The Relationship Rollercoaster of Emotions
Relationships in themselves can be an emotionally demanding commitment. Just like learning to live without substance abuse after long-term addiction certainly is. When the two combine, and the issue of dating someone in recovery comes up, there’s a lot on the table.
Every relationship is as different as each addiction is to each person. No two are alike. That means that what was once true in a past relationship, will most likely be very different in another. Navigating through these emotions while dealing with lingering emotions tied to substance abuse can be hazardous to mental wellness. Taking the time to work through the emotions and feelings associated with addiction, during rehab can help move past these hurdles. The therapy and clinical services that are available during treatment, help to keep thoughts, emotions and priorities, rational and relevant.
Getting caught up in a relationship and the emotions that go along with it, can easily sway any person off course. This is why having a solid foundation on the emotions geared toward addiction can alleviate past trauma and stress. With a better understanding of oneself, counseling allows you to move forward, focused on boundaries to maintain a healthy recovery.
Relationships Are as Vulnerable as Addiction
No doubt as a person works toward recovery for their addiction, a level of vulnerability is healthy. The same can be said about getting involved in dating someone in recovery after drug addiction. Managing the passion that comes with a new relationship takes as much self-control as it does respect and communication. However, because these are aspects that often take time to mature in each relationship, there is a time when uncertainty is inevitable.
These feelings of insecurity that can arise when beginning dating someone in recovery with a drug addiction can be costly. Though exciting and potentially very fulfilling, there is another side to this story. The unfamiliarity of the situation can prompt feelings of longing, similar to the urges to abuse substances. Keeping a secure watch on how certain events can become threatening triggers is going to be important.
Essentially, when an individual is facing thoughts of relapse, it is driven by the desire to change emotions or situations. Therefore, it has the potential to prompt thoughts of substance abuse to satisfy this urge. When something goes amiss in a relationship, as a person becomes more invested, it’s likely that making amendes becomes priority.
This is also the desire to change something about the situation, or the feelings associated with it. Emotions, sensations and feelings are what a relationship is all about. Yet remember, so is addiction and substance abuse. Though it may seem demeaning to compare tho two, the hold that each can have over a person is very much alike. Both have the ability to alter who a person really is to satisfy an uncomfortable predicament.
Navigating Uncertainty When Dating Someone in Recovery
Fortunately, just because something is going to be a bit difficult, doesn’t mean it will not be worth it. Many, if not all, women in recovery have been in the situation, having had to put their own sober needs first. It’s important for mental, emotional, and physical well being.
Many women confess that putting the new sober version of themselves into the dating scene was unnerving. It reinforced the need to be able to maintain boundaries they have set for themselves while keeping an open mind. It was particularly difficult when problems arose while dating someone in recovery after drug addiction. Several even opened up about how the urges and desires became more intense in regards to relapse, amidst these misunderstandings.
However, the more work you’re able to do during rehab and recovery, the easier this will be to manage. This is why dating someone in recovery from drug addiction too soon is not always a good idea. Set your priorities up for success. Being sober is your first priority, it will dictate how the rest of your life will play out. If something or someone threatens to interfere with your success, it may be time to consider other options.
It’s Normal To Evolve In a Relationship
It can be difficult to imagine that anyone would be willing to change or sacrifice for another, especially after all of the hard work put into a recovery program to better oneself. Yet it can happen, and it isn’t always a bad thing when in a healthy relationship. Making certain changes for the better is essentially what a relationship is about.
Think of a new relationship like participating in a partial day rehab program. There are going to be parts of the day that you have to dedicate to priorities to benefit yourself. It may be meetings, therapy, or times set aside for self-care, these come first. However, during those available times that you have the freedom, this is where the relationship takes place. The point of the matter is, it will be essential to make sure that:
a.) you are taking care of the obligations for your sobriety during designated non-negotiable times, such as meetings and therapy.
b.) the time spent with a significant other does not counteract the work being put into establishing and maintaining a better sober life.
Dating someone in recovery after drug addiction treatment should not be taken lightly. Relationships are about two people growing together, and hopefully, bettering the other’s life experience. Although it is thrilling to imagine having an intimate partner to face the world with, it can be complicated. Just as you have boundaries and needs, so will the other person. Depending on what it will take to meet their needs, as they meet yours, will dictate whether it will work. If it is rewarding and healthy, then enjoy it! If it doesn’t work, there will be others. That is, as long as you have your sobriety intact at the end of the day.
How Do I Know When I’m Ready To Date?
One of the benefits of a rehab designed for all women is that it’s not hard to find someone who can relate. Generally speaking, many women have found themselves a year (plus) into their sobriety, unsure if they’re ready to get involved. Fortunately, for those participating in treatment and maintenance programs, your sponsor can be turned to for support.
Part of the deal is that they will be honest with you. And, you can be honest with them. If you are unsure, ask them. They’ll be able to give you a genuine and trustworthy response as to whether they think you are ready. Realistically, no one can grant you permission to date someone in recovery for drug addiction. That is your personal discretion. However, the upfront and honest revision of your progress should be taken into consideration either way.
If you think you’re ready and you’ve been sober for more than a year, go for it. Just take your time and be true to yourself. If you’re not ready to take the leap, that’s okay, too. Be patient with yourself and know that when the time or person is right, it will happen. If you’re questioning whether or not you should date someone in recovery for drug addiction, ask your sponsor. Chances are they were in your shoes once. Even better, they’ll be there for you encouraging and supporting you and your sobriety along the way.
Finding the Right Mate
No doubt, once a person has gotten to see the world through sober eyes, things are viewed differently. What used to be of value to a person abusing substances will likely be contrasting to what’s now important. This is a good thing when it comes to dating someone in recovery for drug addiction.
Now, you have the ability to see more clearly what a person is about and how they can influence your well being. If you’re living in a sober community, this may also be a factor to consider. Many times, those who have become accustomed to the lifestyle void of physical triggers may not be comfortable otherwise. Other times, it will be up to a person’s demeanor and attitude that will set them apart.
Either way, having the experience of addiction and recovery under your belt, you can make a clear educated decision. Not just the decision on whether to date or not, but to see and decide what type of person you could envision yourself being truly able to enjoy life with. You can also know what type of person may not be the best influence over your sobriety.
Don’t Sell Yourself Short
Keep goals in mind, and always keep an eye on the big picture. Remember how resilient you are. Remember that you needed to be resilient to get away from addiction. Making the decision to get help for your addiction took courage. Completing detox took strength and persistence. Rehab itself took dedication, and therapy takes honesty and trust. All of those qualities within you make the sober you someone to desire.
Some people out there who may be potentially available to begin dating while in recovery for drug addiction aren’t deserving. And that’s okay. Don’t sell yourself short by investing in someone who cannot respect your sobriety. Remember that no matter what happens within a relationship, you have survived and conquered addiction. That’s an achievement to be proud of.
Most importantly, sobriety is something that you do for you, and you owe it to yourself to keep it. Among all of the accomplishments you have and hope to achieve, recovery should dominate. The stigma associated with past substance abuse is quickly dissolving within society and should never hold you back.
Being sober is a testament to your character. Remember, you are out looking for someone that deserves to be with the best version of you. Not the other way around.
Dating Inside the Program
As you begin to decide what you need out of a relationship, you should also consider what you don’t. Depending on where you are in your sobriety, you may want to get to know someone in the program better. Some people find it to be a benefit to have someone who understands what addiction and recovery is like first hand. It can be a bonding aspect. It can provide support to you and you to them. So remember that stranger things have happened. But don’t forget to consider their position on the issue too. For them, dating someone in recovery for drug addiction may go against their best judgment. Both sides must be in agreement.
However, there are some circumstances when this can be a more difficult situation to be in. For example, take someone that you had met during an intensive outpatient program. They may have a lot in common with you after a year of treatment and recovery. You may even think that they are on the same page with their dedication to remain sober. Yet, no two people are alike. One person who is in danger of relapse may be the factor that could trigger anothers. In this case, extra caution should be observed.
If you’re unsure, reach out for help. Encourage them to reach out for help. Talk to your sponsor. Be honest about how you feel and why. Remember, there are more fish in the sea. You need to do what’s best for you and stay in recovery.
The “Social Drinker” Dilemma: Deal Breaker?
While it’s fairly easy to conclude that any active drug user is out of the dating parameter, what about drinking? Now, we’re not talking about an alcoholic, but more so the social drinker. Many people drink socially in order to relax and enjoy a night out but don’t develop dependency. Does that mean they’re not an option for a romantic relationship? Should you ask them to stop for your sake? Is that fair to anyone?
If you want to know the truth of the matter, those are questions that you have to answer for yourself. If you’re having trouble, ask your sponsor or rehab counselor. Speak openly and honestly about your dedication to your sobriety. Firmly, yet gracefully, communicate that you are unwilling to do anything to jeopardize your sober wellbeing. Sometimes, this will be respected and understood. Think about it, very rarely does anyone pressure a pregnant woman into taking a shot!
However, some people will simply not be able to understand. Others will have no regard for your sober needs, and refuse to sacrifice theirs. It’s fine for them to behave however they choose, but you don’t need to pursue a relationship with them. This is your decision. Just make sure that you are stable enough in your recovery to face these issues, before you decide to date.
The Details on “Doing the Deed”
Whether you are in your 20s or of more mature age, sex is going to be a conversation. To be honest, it’s an important part of a relationship. Knowing when you’re ready to take the next step is also important when dating someone in recovery for drug addiction.
The good news is, sober sex is even better. For starters, you’ll remember it. Without being intoxicated, having sex is a more intimate and personal act between two people. It requires a level of connection and trust to be established, not to mention that it’s enjoyable. Many times while being intoxicated or during periods of withdrawal, sexual dysfunction is problematic. Now that you’re sober, though, this is less of a snag to worry about. Sensations that were once lost to addiction are enhanced, and endorphins ready to react. If that’s not a good enough reason, then what is?
Although now, you may be ready to take the leap into dating someone in recovery, there’s one thing to consider. Be sure that you’re safe and using protection. Many times sex is a careless action during active addiction and leaves lasting consequences. Be diligent to your sexual and overall health by getting sexually transmitted infection (STI) tests performed. Make sure to include human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and human papilloma virus (HPV) into the exam. This enables a healthy sober sex life and will keep you and your partner on the same page.
New Perspective on Fun
When dating someone in recovery after drug addiction, the idea is to have fun! When you were actively using or abusing alcohol, substances were the priority and your significant other came second. Fortunately, when in recovery, you can rediscover activities that were once drowned out by addiction.
You can send time doing things that you both enjoy without unhealthy distraction. Try going for a walk or playing a sport. Hit the gym or have a beach getaway. Even going out to dinner can be fun, trying an array of different eats. Even the bill will be lower when choosing to drink a soda instead of a $20 cocktail. A happy relationship filled with adventure is good for your sobriety and mental health.
The excitement is endless when you really appreciate the time spent with another. Places that were once clouded by poor judgement and mangled memories of addiction are replaced with value and worthy moments. Just because dating wasn’t as thrilling and healthy when actively using doesn’t mean it was always like that.
Get excited to show off the best version of you, and keep that positive attitude going in the right direction. You never know who’s watching and admiring your new passion for life. Who knows, maybe you’re what they’ve been searching for all along. Dating someone in recovery after drug addiction is the beginning of a valuable journey to share with that special someone.
Sober, Confident, and Ready to Mingle
No doubt it can be intimidating to think about dating someone in recovery for drug addiction. But considering the possibilities, it’s even more exciting. Just make sure you have done the work to get yourself to a healthy place in recovery first. If you find yourself needing help to get to that healthy sober place, contact us to find out how.
New Directions for Women is designed for and run by women and individuals that have been where you are. Once on the right road to a healthy sober future, you will know for certain how special you are. That makes sharing life with that special someone even more thrilling to get excited about. Your extraordinary life is waiting for you; what are you waiting for?