Addiction is a challenging disease to combat. Addicts are undoubtedly brave for working toward their recovery, but they may face many stigmas along the way. However, the people who take care of and support addicts through the long process are often overlooked. Dating a recovering addict can be a frustrating, draining experience at times.
If you find yourself developing feelings for a recovering addict, don’t place judgment on yourself or the other person, but use caution. Dating someone who is a recovering addict, especially if you are interested in a long-term relationship, is never a decision that should be made lightly.
Through everything, it’s crucial to remember that you are your own first priority. Don’t sacrifice your safety and well-being for someone else. With that in mind, there is a wealth of resources available to you. If you are dating a recovering drug addict and find yourself overwhelmed, please reach out to us at (912) 214-3867. You’re there for your addicted loved one; let us be there for you.
Beginning a relationship or staying in one with a recovering addict can be a hard prospect to face. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Read on to learn how to make crucial decisions about your relationship and tips on dating a recovering addict.
Addiction is a Complicated Disease
Addiction is a mental health disorder that affects more than 23 million people in America. In 2016, the US surgeon general announced that one of every seven American citizens would struggle with a substance abuse disorder at some point in their lives. Addiction is characterized as a “chronic brain disease”. It is not a moral failing, it’s not evidence that someone is immoral or weak-minded. Addicts deserve the same empathy and care that is given so freely to sufferers of other chronic diseases.
Addiction works by hijacking the chemical process in your brain that makes you happy. Substances flood the brain with powerful neurotransmitters like dopamine, and the result is a euphoric feeling. With repeated use, the substance becomes the only way for a person to feel any happiness at all. At this point, addiction has set in.
There is the public perception that addiction is something you can rid yourself of if you really want to or you try hard enough. Some people are capable of spontaneous recovery, but that only accounts for about 18 percent of people that kick their addiction. The chances of quitting without help lessen as the scope of the problem grows. Substance addiction leads to severe health problems for the addicted, some of which can be fatal. Anyone struggling with addiction must get help, and the best way to do that is through professional recovery services.
Misconceptions About Relationships in Recovery
Rushing into a relationship with anyone is rarely a good idea – fairytale romances are best left to the movies. This is especially true of a recovering addict. Make yourself aware of what you’re getting into, and know what to expect when dating a recovering addict.
Love Doesn’t Conquer All
Because of the nature of addiction, substance use becomes the single most important thing in an addict’s life. They will forgo friends, family, even significant others to continue their drug use. If they are using or they suffer a relapse, appealing to their love for you will likely prove ineffectual.
Addiction is a Chronic Disease
There is no “cure” for addiction. Drugs rewire the brain in ways that encourage continued use. There is always a risk of relapse, no matter how committed to recovery a person is or how long they’ve been clean. Between 40 and 60 percent of recovering addicts go through at least one relapse.
Addicts in Recovery Need Support
In your relationship, the addict will need your support, which will come from your understanding, patience, and discretion. There is also a good chance that you’ll have to avoid certain activities, like drinking or using drugs.
This is Not Something You Can “Fix”
For some people, there is an appeal to “fix” or “save” someone. If you find yourself attracted to this idea, please know it won’t work. Give the addict all the support and kindness you can, but don’t try to fix them. This can lead to a codependent relationship which is unhealthy for both of you.
You Can’t Change the Past
Often, addicts engage in dangerous behavior that can lead to criminal charges. They may have serious financial issues or children from previous they’ve lost custody of. If your relationship gets serious, these issues will affect you.
If you need more information about recovery options near you, then call us today. Our experts are standing by ready to hnelo you start a happier life today.
Being There for the Recovering Addict
After a potential partner confides to you about their recovery status, the first thing you should do is ask some simple follow-up questions. Are they still using drugs or alcohol? Are they participating in a recovery program? If so, at what point is their progress?
It’s generally recommended that people wait a year after they begin recovery. This time will allow them to get their bodies clean and figure out who they are without addiction. It’s also a stressful time for them. Adding a new relationship to the mix might be more than they can handle.
Addiction is not a moral failing. It does not make someone bad or indicate there’s anything inherently wrong with them. If your potential partner has been clean for a while and maintains their recovery by attending support group meetings, their availability depends on them. Ask them if they are ready for a relationship. If they are, and you believe it, there’s no reason not to pursue a relationship.
What to Know When Dating a Recovering Addict
Of the many difficult hurdles to overcome, trust is a key one. If you agree to begin dating a recovering addict, you should keep this in mind. If you are immediately suspicious of everything they do, the relationship is almost guaranteed to be a struggle.
Remember that there will be things you’ll have to be aware of. Your partner will have triggers they’ll need to avoid to prevent a relapse. This can include being around certain people, different places, or even attending events. Triggers are risky because they engage the addict with their old habits. For example, a recovering alcoholic’s triggers might be their drinking buddies or favorite bars. Someone recovering from heroin will want to avoid neighborhoods where their dealers lived.
If you date an addict in recovery, you’ll have to avoid these things with them. As you learn about them, it’s crucial that you listen. They might not want to say precisely why they want to avoid something, just that they want to. Sometimes they might not say anything at all because they don’t want their illness to affect you. Do your best to be aware of these signs and allow them to avoid their triggers whenever you can.
A final challenge to this relationship is that recovering addicts will often have obligations for their recovery. This can include weekly support group meetings, appointments with therapy, or constant communication with a sponsor. Understand that these aspects of recovery are what help keep a person sober. It may be inconvenient for you, but you should try your best to commit to their schedule. Many meetings also welcome “visitors” who are just attending to show their support for a loved one.
The Silver Lining
All relationships are complicated. Learning about each other and figuring out how you mesh together will always be a process of experimentation. One good thing about dating a recovering drug addict is that they’ve done a lot of work on themselves. They’ve proven they are committed to living a healthy, meaningful life, even if they slip up. The fact they’ve gone through recovery says a lot about their character. And because they’ve gone through the process, they will likely be better suited for communicating with you.
There is also the benefit of going through a hard experience together.
Learning to rely on each other through difficulties can strengthen a relationship, as long as both partners strive for healthy interactions. It’s essential to keep in mind that you shouldn’t stay in a toxic relationship. Speaking with a therapist can help you keep the line between supporting an addict in recovery and suffering for them clear. But, as long the addict is consistently making progress in their recovery, you can build a strong foundation with them. Call and talk to onje of our specialist today. We can help you get on the right treatment path. =
The best thing you can do to help a recovering addict is to support them. Learn as much as you can about their addiction and recovery. Watch for triggers and try to avoid them. Don’t engage in behavior that will tempt them towards relapse. Talk to them when they need a friendly ear.
You can also help them by helping yourself. Positive, healthy relationships form when both parties are happy with themselves. Exercising, getting adequate rest, eating healthy, and practicing other self-care techniques will help you stay grounded. Just like your significant other sought out professional help, you can, too. Speaking with a therapist about your concerns or stresses can help significantly. A therapist can also help you develop strategies for dealing with triggers, bad feelings, and relapses. You can also find specialized support groups for people who care for recovering addicts. Having peer support can be an immense relief.
Decide What’s Right for You
When making important decisions about your life, it’s best to be honest with yourself. The only person that can decide if you should begin dating a recovering addict. Make sure to thoroughly investigate the situation before you jump into anything. At the end of the day, however, addiction is manageable in the same way other chronic diseases are. While being in recovery doesn’t need to be immediately rejection-worthy, who you date is at your discretion.
Like all relationships, dating a recovering addict can be filled with both joy and stress. If you find your relationship seems to be heading downhill, your partner seems close to relapse, or you are struggling with your own emotions, reach out. There are resources available to you that can help you maintain a loving, healthy relationship. Please reach out to us today to get started and we’ll give dating recovering addict advice.
Written by Malory McDermott
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