Life after rehab is an exciting time, full of possibilities — it’s almost a “the world is your oyster” scenario, where you have a lot of choices to make in regard to what you’re going to do next. Included in this list of possibilities is the chance to pursue romantic relationships.
You may be wondering, though, if dating in recovery is a good idea. Should you, at such a vulnerable time in your life, involve another person in the transition you’re going through?
This is a great question.
Should I date after rehab?
Being in a relationship with another gives you a close confidante, a support system and, hopefully, a best friend. These are all invaluable positives in a romantic relationship. But, relationships are a lot of work, and this can be stressful, overwhelming and just downright difficult.
This is something to keep in mind when entering into a dating relationship when you’re freshly out of rehab. Especially in the first few months following treatment, it’s really important to focus on yourself. You’ll be spending time possibly getting established in a new job or re-acclimating to an old one; you’ll be learning how to integrate the healthy habits you learned in rehab into your daily life; and you’ll be working to avoid triggers that could lead to a relapse in addicted behaviors.
It may just be a matter of simply not having time for the needs of another while you’re focused heavily on your needs of yourself after rehab. This does not mean you’ll never date again, it simply means it might not be the right time.
What do the experts say?
There is no hard and fast rule about dating after rehab — but many addiction treatment programs, including all the 12-step programs, recommend waiting for a year after treatment to enter the dating scene.
Because addiction completely changes the brain, including the way you view yourself and other people. Depending on long you battled addiction, it can take an extensive amount of time (even more time than the days spent in a treatment facility) to change your mindset and outlook. While the time spent in active recovery is vital, the way you spend your life after rehab is just as important.
This means taking a solid look at yourself before you begin dating. Are you ready to love and accept another person as they are? Are you ready to be loved and accepted the way you are? Are you strong enough in your sobriety to be able to take on the mental and emotional challenges of dating without compromising your recovery?
Things to consider before dating in recovery
If you choose to pursue a dating relationship during this time, it’s helpful to consider all the factors and to have many open and honest conversations with your significant other so you both remain on the same page during this process.
Recovery is lonely
Sobriety is crucial for your health, but in today’s society, it, unfortunately, can mean missing out on many events. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, which many seek to remedy through dating — usually dating a like-minded person. Dating someone who is also newly sober or with a history of addiction, or even dating someone who is battling a substance use disorder can significantly put your sobriety at risk.
Instead of filling the isolation with a potentially emotionally challenging situation, seek to dive deeper into your recovery community, volunteer opportunities or your family. This can help you feel supported and seen during this time of your life.
The risk of codependency is high
Again, alcohol and drug use can significantly alter your thought processes, the way you view relationships and the way in which you relate to others. This can be dangerous in a romantic relationship if you have not taken the time to properly heal your mind. One specific risk is that of codependency, where two individuals enable the other’s habits and find some form of validation in being so completely reliant on the other.
A codependent relationship causes a lot of stress on each individual, and the individuality and personal needs of the members of the relationship are lost and/or ignored.
Alcohol is prevalent in the dating scene
Going out for drinks is a common date idea, and can make it awkward for you if you feel that you’re consistently needing to explain either why you aren’t ordering alcohol or why that kind of date won’t work for you. Especially in the earlier stages of recovery, this can be a challenging trigger to face again and again.
You want to avoid triggers
Some people actually ended up battling a substance use disorder as a result of the emotional duress they endured in a relationship; those with any traumatic history of domestic violence or emotional or sexual abuse are statistically more likely to develop an addiction as a way to cope with the mental hurdles these experiences caused.
For anyone who experienced these traumas, it’s even more important to avoid triggers, including dating relationships, for a long time.
Take into full consideration your history, as well as what your triggers may be, in order to make a well-educated decision for yourself in regard to dating after rehab.
Relationship therapy post addiction
If you’re looking to heal relationships and seek recovery from any mental health or substance use disorders in order to better enter into healthy relationships, Silvermist Recovery is here to help. Contact us today to learn more about our recovery programs.