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When a person goes through treatment for drug or alcohol addiction, they begin rebuilding their lives. They need to focus on themselves as they go through the early part of recovery, making changes and adjustments as necessary. As a result, single people in early recovery are cautioned about dating too soon. Many addiction professionals recommend that a person new to recovery should not enter into a new relationship or date for at least one year.
Dating & Early Recovery: A Time to Heal
Every individual is different, and addiction recovery is a personal journey. Early recovery is the time to heal and re-establish your life and identity. It is also time to learn how to accept help and support, set boundaries, grow mentally and spiritually, and become more self-aware. Dating someone when you are in early recovery can take your focus away from recovery and potentially lead to relapse.
Sometimes a person in early recovery from a substance use addiction finds a replacement addiction to attain the high they got from alcohol or drugs. For some people, the replacement is love addiction. Maybe you enjoy the euphoric feeling of new love. Your attraction to the other individual can cause your brain to flood with “feel-good” chemicals. This high feeling makes it more difficult to treat underlying addiction issues. After all, it’s much easier to have fun with a new date than to go to therapy and talk about difficult feelings and experiences.
Choosing the Wrong Partner
People generally choose romantic partners who are as emotionally mature as themselves. In early recovery, most people would choose the same type of person they would have chosen in active addiction. Often that person is codependent or abusive. This, of course, threatens the sobriety of the person in recovery because it puts them right back into the mindset they had while using substances.
As you get stronger in recovery, you will develop the confidence and self-respect needed to make smarter choices about whom you date. You will more likely be attracted to people who are mentally and emotionally healthy.
Toxic or Unhealthy Relationships
When a person is in early recovery, they are emotionally fragile and vulnerable. This state often makes them more likely to enter into an unhealthy or toxic relationship. These types of relationships occur because the person still has low self-esteem, a poor self-image, or relies too heavily on other people. If you enter into a toxic or unhealthy relationship early in recovery, it can lead to serious problems, including relapse.
People often become addicted as a way to escape difficult or powerful emotions. Recovery is about learning how to face your feelings and work through them in a healthy way. Because dating can bring a whole host of intense emotions into play, it’s far better to avoid new relationships until you have had a chance to build emotional health.
Neglecting Your Recovery
Recovering from an addiction to drugs or alcohol takes commitment and hard work every day. Addiction is a chronic brain disease that changes how the brain functions in the areas of reward, stress, and self-control. These changes affect your ability to make good decisions and cause you to experience intense cravings for your substance of choice. Your only mission each day is to satisfy the intense, compulsive need regardless of any consequences. Breaking that compulsion through detox and treatment is a powerful experience–and one that requires a life-long commitment to maintain.
If you start dating in early recovery, you may neglect your recovery program. Your desire to be with the other person can lead you to skip therapy sessions or 12-Step meetings. It can lead to a feeling of false confidence that you’re okay now and no longer need to do so much work. This, of course, is a dangerous feeling and one that all too often leads to relapse.
Dating can increase feelings of anxiety, especially for those in recovery. You are meeting new people, and going to places that may feature alcohol or even drugs. Dinner dates, parties, or clubs can all expose you to alcohol or drug use. If you have not told your date about your recovery, these experiences can provoke even more anxiety.
You may worry, too, that sharing your recovery story will turn away the person you want to date. All of these anxieties are not conducive to a healthy recovery. Waiting until you are stable in recovery to start dating again will make the whole experience easier.
Do You Need Help?
If you or a loved one struggles with a drug or alcohol addiction, help is available. At Canyon Vista Recovery Center, located in Mesa, Arizona, our caring professionals will use a combination of psychiatric, medical, clinical, and holistic approaches to heal your mind, body, and spirit. Now is the time to get the help you need. Take the first step toward living a healthy and sober life.