Dating a recovering heroin addict* can often feel like a lonely and difficult place. If you’ve never struggled with substance abuse, it may be hard to empathize with your partner’s struggles.
Or, the road to recovery can look so long and winding that it’s challenging to remain hopeful and steadfast in the relationship.
If you want to better support your dating partner who’s recovering from heroin, there are many ways you can continue to support them and yourself through the stages of recovery.
*Important note: We avoid stigmatic language such as ‘addict’ or ‘heroin user’ as much as possible. However, we will use this language in this article to inform and equip those struggling with drug use and their loved ones.
Tips On Dating A Recovering Heroin Addict
Dating relationships can be challenging on their own, and the addition of substance abuse can make for a difficult environment.
The following are tips on how to go through a dating relationship with someone who’s recovering from heroin.
Learn About Heroin Addiction
It’s difficult to understand heroin addiction through a lens of empathy without really knowing what the person is experiencing. Learning about heroin addiction is the first step.
While you may not be able to understand the mental and physical symptoms of withdrawing from heroin, there are other ways you can gain a better base of knowledge in your support.
Seek information on why heroin addiction forms, what long-term use can do to a person’s mind and body, what treatment options are available, and more.
Get Started On The Road To Recovery.
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Talk To Your Significant Other
Your feelings and emotions are just as valid as your recovering partner’s. Approach your partner with empathy and love, and let them know what you’ve been thinking.
Keep lines of communication wide open throughout this process. Both you and your partner will be experiencing many highs and lows of recovering from addiction.
Check in with your partner and ask how they’re doing, be a support if they’re going through withdrawal, and talk to them about counseling if they’re getting help from a therapist.
Know Your Partner’s Triggers
As you open up the lines of communication to better understand each other, one important topic of conversation is learning what your partner’s triggers might be.
Everyone’s triggers are different. For some, a trigger may be something emotional, and for others, it may be a person or a specific place.
Possible triggers include:
- stressful situations
- the death of a loved one
- feelings of depression, anxiety, or some other negative emotion
- revisiting old places where they may have made poor choices
- seeing paraphernalia related to heroin use
- a party or a special occasion
- seeing someone with whom they associate their heroin use
- feeling lonely
- boredom, or a lack of purpose or meaning in life
Know your partner’s triggers so you can help them to face the root of what they’re feeling and turn to healthy coping mechanisms instead of heroin.
Join A Support Group
When someone you love is recovering from addiction, your own needs often get lost somewhere along the way. You may focus so much on getting them help that you forget to focus on yourself.
Finding support for yourself is extremely important when you’re dating a recovering heroin addict. You need to take care of yourself emotionally to help take care of your partner.
There are many support groups available to significant others and loved ones of heroin addicts. Search for groups like that and start attending regular meetings with others who understand.
If your partner is in a recovery program, you may also be able to participate in support groups run by the addiction treatment facility.
Talking to people who know what it’s like to date a recovering heroin addict can be freeing and a needed reminder that you are not alone.
Learn About Codependency
The word “codependent” means “dependent with.” A codependent relationship defines a relationship in which control, or a lack of control, is the focus.
For a heroin addict, heroin is the object that they’re dependent on and controlled by.
But for loved ones involved (such as a dating partner), they can become codependent on the person who’s struggling with substance abuse and feel a need to control certain outcomes.
And this sense of control comes out of a good place. A codependent person often so strongly desires the wellbeing of their partner that they take on roles they were never meant to have.
Codependency can look like:
- making decisions based on how it might affect your partner
- only feeling happy or satisfied when your recovering partner is in a good place
- constantly giving your partner your attention and requiring nothing in return
- feeling like their relapse is partly your fault
- feeling responsible for their recovery and success in sobriety
If you identify with any of the above statements, you’re not alone. Codependency is a common struggle that family, friends, spouses, and other loved ones of addicted individuals often face.
Be aware of the reality of codependency and take steps to address it.
Be Prepared For Relapse
Recovering from heroin is a process, and your partner may relapse. Be aware of the signs of heroin relapse and be mentally prepared for the possibility that they may use again.
This does not mean that recovery is over and they’ve failed. Relapse happens to many recovering addicts, and it’s important to continue the love and support you’ve shown up until this point.
Set boundaries, make your desires moving forward clear, avoid manipulation tactics often used to get more heroin, and set new guidelines for the future so you can continue to grow together.
Know That It Gets Better
If you’re watching your partner in the beginning stages of heroin recovery, they’re likely experiencing intense withdrawal, cravings, emotional turmoil, and other factors.
Especially with the help of a structured addiction treatment program, this is only temporary and it will get better.
While your partner may always struggle with the repercussions of heroin abuse in some way, there is hope for long-term recovery and restored life.
It’s hard to see past the withdrawal and mental effects of the early stages of quitting heroin, but your partner does have a chance at a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life.
Find Heroin Addiction Treatment Today
Dating a recovering heroin addict is not an easy task. If your partner is ready to accept help and take the next step toward recovery, encourage them to do an addiction treatment program.
We have trained specialists who are ready to take your call and assist you in finding the right program for your partner. Call us today to learn more.
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.
These include peer-reviewed journals, government entities and academic institutions, and leaders in addiction healthcare and advocacy. Learn more about how we safeguard our content by viewing our editorial policy.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed—[Heroin addiction]