When you make the choice to enter an alcohol and drug rehab, you probably are not checking in with the goal of finding your soul mate. Addiction is a disease of emotions, and once you become sober, those emotions can be confusing. Yes, you are healing and making new discoveries, but dating during early recovery can be a slippery slope. Here are just five reasons why you might want to put the brakes on the sober romance during early addiction recovery.
1. You Are Not Healthy Yet
If you have not heard it yet, you are not a “bad” person because you are an alcoholic or addict. You are a “sick” person, however, that needs to concentrate on getting better. Addiction is a serious disease that has taken a toll on both your mind and body. It is only fair that you take the time to heal both of those aspects before you even think about becoming romantically involved with another person.
2. You Might Be Breaking a Rule
Did you know that when you enter alcohol or drug rehab, there is a good chance that you will be asked to agree to a non-fraternization policy? This means that you agree to stay out of relationships with other clients. The consequences of breaking that rule will likely be expulsion from the program. In just one study, 7.3 percent of clients were expelled from programs for just this reason. If you are serious about your recovery, you will follow all of the rules, including the one about dating.
3. Love Could Be Your New Drug
Addicts and alcoholics become used to finding pleasure from outside sources. Now that the substances are gone, it is only natural to seek out another “drug” as a replacement. Some find food, others shopping, and still others affairs of the heart. When you have a strong attraction to someone, your brain floods with “feel good” chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine, phenylethylamine, estrogen, and testosterone. Relationships and sex can become a new addiction if you do not exercise caution.
4. Dating is Emotional
Getting sober is an emotional time, but adding a relationship to the mix can be equal to dumping fuel on a fire. The first year of recovery might have some sensitive ups and downs which make you increasingly vulnerable. This might cause you to pick the wrong type of person to date, to say or do irrational things, or to simply freeze up and run away. Too many addicts point to relationships as their reason for relapse in early recovery. It is best to wait as long as possible and not do anything that increases your chances of relapse in the early stages of sobriety.
5. This is a Time to Focus on Yourself
Addiction recovery is anything but easy. When you are faced with a difficult task or dealing with the consequences of drinking and using, one of the first things that you may want to do is find a distraction. A new relationship is an excellent distraction, but it will not serve your best interests. When you focus on something else, you are not giving attention to your recovery, which could place your sobriety in jeopardy.
Conventional wisdom dictates that newly recovering alcoholics and addicts wait at least 12 months before dating during recovery. It is more important to focus on yourself and get healthy than to search out a new life partner. If you are thinking of dating someone in recovery, take all of these suggestions to heart. Understand that addicts need ongoing support to recover outside of a romantic relationship, and that sobriety should always be a priority.
If you or a loved one are ready to begin addiction recovery, contact us to learn about our specialized alcohol and drug rehab programs.