dating a recovering addict

Dating under normal circumstances can be stressful, to say the least. Dating a recovering addict increases that stress level ten-fold. There are many hurdles to overcome in order to maintain a healthy, strong, balanced relationship between yourself and your partner.

There are many considerations that need to be made upon discovering that someone you are interested in dating is a recovering addict. Your ability to be flexible and committed to change is important. An understanding ear and an honest and open mind are also important.

A recovering individual can feel like their life is under a huge microscope. They have to be careful about the decisions that they make. The repercussions those decisions have on their present and future situation are significant. The potential of having a relapse is always on the recovering addict’s mind. Adding another person to their life may complicate things.

Our staff at Coastal Detox offers many options to help the person you are dating with continued therapy. We are a dedicated team that provides a long term treatment plan. Coastal’s team is here to assist in strengthening and improving the way individuals handle life-changing events. We can help your partner navigate the steps of starting and maintaining a healthy relationship. 

The First Steps Before Dating a Recovering Addict

When you first enter a new relationship, everything feels wonderful and exciting. These emotions may tend to cloud the realities of everyday life with a recovering addict. It is important to take a step back and get answers to important questions before moving forward.

It is normal to have questions upon discovering that the person you are interested in dating is a recovering addict. An in-depth discussion is the key to starting your relationship off on the right foot. For example, important questions include:

  • What stage of recovery is the person in?
  • What’s the story of their drug or alcohol addiction?
  • How long has the person been in recovery?
  • Is the person currently in a recovery program?

There are considerations to make when deciding if you want to begin dating a recovering addict. Therefore, before becoming emotionally involved it is good to think about what day-to-day life may be like. It is important to find out what your potential partners’ current struggles are. You will need to decide if you want to commit to a relationship that may require more energy than you are willing or able to devote yourself to.

What Support Is Needed In a Relationship with a Recovering Addict?

Recovery from a drug or alcohol addiction is a long process. As you begin dating a recovering addict, there should be a huge level of understanding and commitment on your part. You will need many relationship “tools” to support both yourself and your partner. For instance, these tools may include:

  • Understanding: A key ingredient in a relationship with a recovering addict is understanding. You need to be able to look at the big picture. Part of being understanding is realizing that addiction is a disease. The process of fighting and overcoming this disease is long and can be difficult.
  • Compromise: Any relationship requires both parties to be able to compromise. As the partner to someone who is in addiction recovery, you need to be able to balance what is best for both you and them. 
  • Patience: One of the most significant tools in a relationship with a recovering addict is patience. Recovery takes time and a lot of work. You need to realize that mistakes will be made and adjustments will need to take place.
  • Encouragement: A key ingredient to the recovery process is feeling supported by those around you. Encouragement comes in many forms and is vital in any healthy relationship. We all love to feel that our partner is our biggest cheerleader in life. The amount of motivation and support that a recovering addict receives may be what drives their desire to remain sober.
  • Communication: No relationship is healthy and strong without communication. A relationship will not survive without communication. Honest and open discussions need to take place. A focus on things such as what stage in the recovery process the recovering addict is in, triggers that may cause a relapse, and their expectations of you as a partner.

What Are the Challenges Of Dating A Recovering Addict?

The challenges of dating a recovering addict are many. As your relationship grows and becomes more serious these challenges intensify. Therefore it is as important to remember to take care of your own mental and physical health as much as your partners.

One of the challenges is to be aware of the signs of a relapse and to be prepared to deal with it. You need to consider how the relapse may affect the future of your relationship. For example, these are some signs that a relapse is occurring:

  • Secrecy
  • Broken promises
  • Reliability is questioned
  • Lies are being told

Another challenge is staying focused on your partner’s mental health. It is important for them to continue attending their therapy sessions. Your encouragement and support will be vital in maintaining their sobriety.

There are situations that will cause you to have to change your normal habits and activities. For example, if your partner is a recovering alcoholic you will need to avoid situations and activities that involve drinking. You may also need to avoid atmospheres where the temptation will be too overwhelming.

Coastal Detox provides a recovery management plan to assist in balancing a new life without the need for drugs or alcohol. The life of a recovering addict is full of challenges, but the guidance offered through this plan provides much-needed stability. In addition, this management plan offers choices in therapeutic approaches as well as ones that are holistic.

How to Avoid Stereotyping a Recovering Addict

A relationship with a recovering addict can not be built if you have a preconceived notion of the “typical” addict. The relationship does not stand a chance if you believe that a recovering individual has no self-control or has a weak demeanor. Most importantly, education is key when it comes to understanding the underlying reasons your potential partner became addicted to drugs or alcohol.

You will need to take a hard look at your own beliefs about addiction before you commit to dating a recovering addict. The need to have a non-judgmental attitude and an open mind are very important. Trust will need to be evident in order to have a relationship with someone who is recovering from addiction.

In addition, it is important to realize that the self-esteem of the recovering addict is very fragile. Stereotypically you may believe that someone who abuses drugs or alcohol is reckless and uncaring.  In reality, they need your support in order to maintain the desire to remain sober in recovery.

How to Maintain A Healthy Relationship With Someone Who is in Recovery

The recovery process affects everyone who has a relationship with a recovering addict. In order to have a healthy relationship, it is important to offer your support. Support can come in many forms such as:

  • Acknowledging and accepting their past
  • Being ready to accept the current status of your partner’s recovery process
  • Learning your partner’s triggers and finding ways to avoid them
  • Being understanding and respectful of their recovery steps
  • Maintaining the lines of communication and keeping them open

How you handle the support may be what makes a difference for the recovering individual. The amount of support may determine the forward movement for continued recovery or may trigger a relapse. If you are understanding and respectful of the recovering addict’s steps in the recovery process it will bolster their self-esteem.

Remember that the recovery process does not happen overnight. It is a long journey and requires a lifetime of dedication. Allow your partner the freedom to vent about their frustrations. Let them know that there is no judgment on your part. This can strengthen the trust in the relationship.

Substance abuse causes the recovering addict to lose confidence in themself. This can create problems and make it difficult to form a healthy relationship that can progress into something meaningful. Recovering individuals need time to get reacquainted with themselves before they can focus their energy and time on someone else. 

Loving a Recovering Addict: Is It Possible to Have a Long-Term Relationship With This Person?

Relationships are a lot of work under normal circumstances. Dating a recovering addict may require a larger amount of emotional and mental support. The stress and worry may take a toll on you and your ability to maintain the relationship. Set firm boundaries that are not negotiable. For instance, discuss setting boundaries such as:

  • Drugs or alcohol will not be tolerated
  • Do not accept friends who drink or take drugs
  • Maintaining responsibility for their own actions

The recovery process can be a lonely one; therefore a recovering individual may find it comforting to lean heavily on you for guidance. But when loving a recovering addict, it’s important to remember to take care of yourself. Do not become the person’s caregiver. Instead, be sure that your partner has the professional help he or she needs. It takes a strong foundation to build a strong relationship.

Agreements that solidify trust and respect between you and your partner will make it possible to create a long-term relationship. It is important to remember that you should not shoulder the outcome of your partner’s recovery. While you are concerned about the individual’s mental well-being it is very important to protect your own as well. Self-care is extremely important. The success or failure of your partner’s recovery is ultimately in their hands, not yours.

Find Help for Addiction Recovery at Coastal Detox

The recovery management program at Coastal Detox provides a strong plan that promotes accountability of the recovering addict in your everyday life after rehabilitation. It is this accountability that provides a solid base for a successful recovery and allows successful relationships to form. We will provide obtainable goals that focus on improving the chances of long-term recovery. We at Coastal Detox encourage you to reach out today to get more details about how we can assist you or your loved one. Give us a call today!