The first few weeks and months of recovery, when you’re still in inpatient drug treatment and right after you leave, are naturally going to be the hardest. You’ll deal with cravings, triggers, insomnia and a sudden surge of feelings that can be overwhelming after years of numbing yourself with alcohol and drugs.
Most people worry a lot about coping with negative feelings in early recovery, but don’t give too much thought to how they’re going to cope with positive ones, like attraction, intimacy and love. After all, these feelings can’t possibly be bad, right?
Well, actually, they can be more damaging than you think. Most addicts have a long history of failed and dysfunctional relationships and poor relationship skills. Not to mention, in the early days of your addiction recovery, you’re not going to be thinking clearly about what you want and need in a romantic partner. That’s why it’s best if you refrain from dating in inpatient drug treatment and preferably throughout the first year of your sobriety.
You Will Choose the Wrong Partner
People often choose partners who demonstrate the same level of emotional maturity that they themselves possess. When you’re in the early stages of addiction treatment, you’re still, sad to say, a selfish and manipulative person. You may even be downright abusive. You could end up choosing a partner who demonstrates these same qualities, and your relationship will fail.
If you haven’t worked through the issues that led you to inpatient drug treatment in the first place, you could find those issues coming into play in your relationships. Some people who enter into early recovery relationships are co-dependent – they lose their identities and lower their standards in an effort to please the partner at all costs.
Others who enter into relationships while still in or soon after leaving inpatient drug rehab choose poorly due to feelings of low self-worth or the inability to step back and take a good, clear-headed look at someone’s character. If you grew up in a dysfunctional or abusive family environment, you may choose an abusive partner simply because you’re used to being treated that way.
The Dangers of Dating in Inpatient Drug Treatment
If you start dating too soon after entering recovery, it could lead you straight into relapse. When the new relationship doesn’t work out – as it probably won’t – the stress and turmoil will send you frantically searching for instant relief. You’ll find it in the form of drugs or alcohol.
Inpatient drug treatment is hard work. You need to commit all of your time and energy to working on yourself and getting better. You owe it to yourself to give yourself your full attention right now. Don’t be distracted by a pretty face.
The infatuation of falling in love can create a high that’s very similar – in face, on a neurochemical level, exactly like – the sensation of using drugs or alcohol. In essence, you’re at risk of replacing your drug or alcohol addiction with an addiction to falling in love when you date too soon after entering inpatient drug treatment. Resist the urge to seek that rush and spend your first year of recovery working on the issues that have led you to where you are today.
Dating Again in Recovery
Once you’ve passed your one-year anniversary of sobriety, you can think about starting to date again. Ease into it. Stay in therapy and use the time to work on appropriate, healthy habits for dating. Figure out what you want in a partner, and what you need from a relationship, before you start dating again.
Remember that dating is not an excuse to drink or use drugs. Fortunately there are plenty of places where you can meet people to date without exposing yourself to drug use. Volunteer functions, community events, AA meetings and churches are all good places to start – just don’t date anyone else who hasn’t also had a full year of sobriety!
The temptation to have a fling while you’re still in inpatient drug treatment or right after can be huge. You’re feeling some things you probably haven’t felt in years. You won’t regret waiting, but you’ll regret rushing into a new relationship.
Put your recovery and health first. Call FHE Health today at 844-299-0618.