Entering a romantic relationship while recovering from drug or alcohol addiction can be difficult to navigate, especially if the person you’re dating drinks alcohol or uses other substances.
As you work through the beginning stages of recovery, you’ll see your well-being improve. And with improved physical, social, and behavioral health, you’ll likely be interested in dating or exploring potential partners.
You may meet someone who’s not involved in an addiction treatment program and who likes to drink socially. Addiction treatment professionals suggest it’s best to wait a year before dating.
We’ll explore the risks of dating someone who drinks while you’re in the early stages of overcoming alcohol or drug addiction while also exploring potential benefits.
Considering Dating While In Recovery
Early recovery from substance use disorders (SUDs) can be affected by many stressors, including new work opportunities, drug cravings, and fluctuating self-esteem.
Recovery can also be affected by dating. Because of this, most substance abuse healthcare professionals suggest that people in early recovery wait to date until they’ve been sober for at least a year.
While you’re building a foundation for recovery, you might feel pressured to drink alcohol by your partner, especially if they enjoy drinking.
Below, we’ll explore the risks of dating someone who drinks when you’re in the early stages of recovery. We’ll also explore some potential benefits that dating during recovery can have.
Potential Risks Of Dating In Early Addiction Recovery
Dating someone who drinks can expose you to alcohol and may trigger cravings or compromise your commitment to sobriety.
Depending on your partner’s relationship with alcohol, the emotional toll of witnessing your partner’s drinking habits could impact your well-being and stability.
Conflicts may arise due to differences in lifestyle choices, potentially jeopardizing your recovery. Your partner may not understand addiction as a mental health disorder and put you in uncomfortable situations or question your decisions.
Some short-term rehabilitation facilities forbid contact with people of the opposite sex (unless it’s a family member) because they know the stress and conflict that can arise from dating.
If you try to date, these facilities may ask you to leave the facility or put further restrictions on you, hindering your recovery journey.
Lastly, dating during a vulnerable time, such as early recovery, may keep you from being the best partner. Recovery is a time of self-reflection and prioritizing your goals.
Potential Benefits Of Dating While In Recovery
While most experts recommend that you don’t date while in early recovery, some people will decide to establish a romantic relationship anyway.
Dating someone who drinks while you’re in recovery can be an opportunity to establish trust and practice effective communication skills as you navigate different lifestyles.
Your partner’s responsible drinking can provide a model of moderation, reinforcing the importance of balanced choices.
However, it’s crucial to remember that this dynamic may not be suitable for everyone, and careful consideration is necessary to ensure your sobriety remains a top priority.
If you decide to date while in early recovery, or if you have just reached a year of recovery and want to date, read on for some beneficial tips.
Honesty And Communication
As a sober person in addiction recovery, honesty and open communication are essential when you’re considering dating someone who uses alcohol or another substance.
Being open about your sobriety journey is key to fostering a healthy relationship.
Maintaining candid and frequent communication builds trust and will help you navigate challenging moments.
Understanding Your Partner’s Attitude Toward Drinking
Understanding your significant other’s attitude towards drinking is pivotal when dating during early recovery.
By reflecting on your partner’s relationship with alcohol, you can better understand how they might consider your recovery needs. Assess if they’re supportive, responsible, and respectful of your commitment to sobriety.
It’s important that you both have compatible attitudes toward substance use. Your partner’s behavior should align with your recovery journey.
Setting Boundaries And Prioritizing Self-Care
If you’re in the early stages of recovery from alcohol or drug addiction, setting clear boundaries and practicing self-care is fundamental.
Define what you’re comfortable with and communicate these boundaries to your partner. Ensure your partner’s needs align with your commitment to sobriety.
Prioritize self-care to maintain your well-being and reinforce your sobriety. Make sure to keep up with meetings, sponsor meet-ups, therapy, meditation, or other self-care habits.
Seeking Support And Professional Guidance In Decision-Making
Seeking recovery support and professional guidance is helpful when deciding whether or not to date someone who drinks while you’re in addiction recovery.
Try consulting with a medical professional or therapist for evidence-based advice. These professionals can provide insights into the potential risks and benefits.
Additionally, turning to support groups or peers who have faced similar situations can offer valuable perspectives and guidance, helping you make an informed and confident decision.
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Published on December 19, 2023
Addiction Resource aims to provide only the most current, accurate information in regards to addiction and addiction treatment, which means we only reference the most credible sources available.
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- Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF) — Relapse
- American Journal of Psychiatry — DSM-5 Criteria for Substance Use Disorders: Recommendations and Rationale
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) — Recovery Is Possible for Everyone: Understanding Treatment of Substance Use Disorders