Dating After Rehab: The Do’s and Don’ts
Recovery is a very personal journey. For most, early recovery involves focusing on their well-being; establishing boundaries; finding a healthy routine; seeking and receiving support; growing emotionally, mentally, and perhaps spiritually. It’s a time for lots of self-reflection and self-help to re-establish a positive personal identity.
By nature, humans are social beings, and healthy relationships can positively impact an individual’s mental, emotional, and physical health. Early recovery, however, involves a lot of focus inward, so when is it OK to look outward and re-introduce romance into the recovery journey? It depends.
Replacement Addictions After Rehab
Anne Lewis, a clinical addiction counselor and psychologist at Indiana University Health says, “The first year of sobriety is fraught with challenging issues. It will be easy for many to find replacement addictions, such as a love addiction, to replace the high the drug or alcohol provided.”
Anita Gadhia-Smith, a therapist practicing in Maryland and the District of Columbia, agrees. She explains how someone who struggles with substance misuse may view a new love interest as their higher power, which is a problem. Not only can that other person fail the individual in recovery, but relationships end, and facing these emotions while simultaneously experiencing the instability of being newly sober can be a lot to handle all at once.
So what are the do’s and don’ts of dating after completing rehab?
- Do set and follow through on goals. Try new experiences that don’t involve a significant other, alcohol, or drugs. Make a list of these activities and do them.
- Do develop a supportive network. Creating and surrounding oneself with a sober group of people will decrease the feelings of loneliness and provide you with things to do—such as going to lunch or for a hike—and people to do them with.
- Do make a commitment not to date with another individual. This will hold you accountable and help you avoid the temptation to date within that first year in sobriety.
- Do reach out. Perhaps your addiction led to a bad breakup prior to your recovery. Don’t let feelings associated with this past relationship fester. Instead, talk to your support group, therapist, or sponsor.
- Don’t keep secrets. Being honest with your sponsor, therapist, and friends will help you to make healthy choices that support your sobriety. For example, if you tell a therapist that you’re considering dating, they may be able to assist you into staying focused on your sobriety instead of on potential distractions.
- Don’t attempt to “self-help” your way through difficult times. You don’t need to work through sobriety on your own, and you shouldn’t.
So, when it comes to finally being able to date after spending a year in sobriety, how can you meet other likeminded individuals?
Continue to remain plugged into your supportive group of friends. These friendships are instrumental in supporting your long-term recovery. Additionally, there’s a possibility that you could meet someone within that group or through them. Don’t force anything. Let things happen organically, if they happen at all. But remember, maintaining those healthy and supportive relationships are important, regardless of whether you meet someone or not romantically. There are also dating apps that cater to a demographic that chooses to remain sober. For example CASL, Loosid, and Club Soda, to name a few.
If you or a loved one struggle with alcohol or substance misuse and are having a difficult time navigating life’s obstacles, you’re not alone. There are resources to help you achieve long-term sobriety and to live a healthy life. Please reach out to get the help that you need today.