In Early Recovery, When are you Ready for a Relationship?

When are you ready for a relatioship in recovery

The term “recovery” can include the entire drug rehabilitation process, beginning with the first day of sobriety. Early recovery usually refers specifically to the detoxification and maintenance phases of treatment, when it can be difficult to determine if it’s a good time to be in a romantic relationship. Addiction treatment professionals are generally in strong agreement that it’s best to avoid a new relationship in early recovery. Even existing relationships can be hard to maintain due to the dedication required to succeed in rehab.


A romance with someone who is associated with the treatment program is particularly inadvisable, whether that person is also in rehab or merely associated with the program in some other way. Addiction specialists agree that relationships while in recovery aren’t a good idea because people in recovery often believe that they’re likely to maintain abstinence once they’ve detoxed. It would, therefore, appear to be a safe time to enter a relationship, but the current research on relapse rates doesn’t support this idea.

Psychology Today reports that the greatest risk of relapse occurs during the first 90 days of recovery. Studies show that up to 90 percent of all people in this phase will return to at least mild drug use, and half will return to heavy drug use. However, these people may eventually regain their sobriety. Someone in rehab will often react with hostility when advised to delay a romantic relationship until after completing the treatment program.

New Relationships

Many people look for a new relationship while in rehab, regardless of how unadvisable this decision may be. The primary reason for this tendency is that other pleasure-seeking experiences such as sex and romance become more desirable once drugs are no longer part of the brain’s reward system. Sexual abstinence is particularly difficult during recovery, but it greatly assists in the process.

Pleasure-seeking behavior can challenge even the strongest safeguards that keep those in a recovery focused. For example, many rehab centers have policies that keep males and females separated, either by only allowing residents of one gender or by keeping the rooms separated by gender. However, many sidestep this rule because they are not under direct observation at all times. Furthermore, separation by gender has no effect all if the individual is homosexual or bisexual.

Commitment is needed for recovery - quote

The primary reason for avoiding a new relationship during early recovery is that it raises the question of whether you’re simply substituting one pleasure-seeking behavior for another. A new relationship can, therefore, be a strategy to avoid the hard work that a successful recovery requires, even though that strategy may be an unconscious one. The accurately answer this question depends on your psychological state and other circumstances that are difficult to assess. However, the specific situation doesn’t change the general recommendation against rehab relationships.

This rule of thumb doesn’t mean that you should never pursue a relationship with someone you met in rehab; only that you should delay it until you’ve completed the treatment program. However, you should address this issue during ongoing therapy, whether it’s individual or group therapy. The communication and social skills you learn in post-rehab therapy can also help you increase the stability of the potential relationship after rehab.

Existing Relationships

An existing romantic partner may feel abandoned, lost and confused when you enter rehab, no matter how much that person supports your decision to do so. Therapist Darlene Lancer discusses the codependency issues that can arise in a relationship when one partner has a problem with substance abuse. Codependency is a relationship dysfunction indicated by people who are wholly dedicated to serving the needs of another person. Many times, their identity becomes largely tied to this caregiving role. This dynamic allows the subject of this behavior to become dependent on the caregiver, which is particularly unhealthy in the case of a substance abuser.

Rehab provides an opportunity to break the cycle of both substance abuse and codependency. Furthermore, treatment programs often include loved ones in therapy sessions, which can be very important to the overall recovery process. However, it’s important to bear in mind that relationship problems may remain, even after you attain sobriety.

Substance abuse is frequently a significant factor in troubled relationships, but it’s rarely the only issue. Couples with a substance-abusing partner may be surprised to discover that successful recovery doesn’t completely repair the relationship. Recovery is certainly an important step, but not the only hurdle involved in a healthy relationship. However, rekindling an existing relationship can be instrumental in helping someone in recovery maintain sobriety.

Public Relationships

Recovery is a private process for the great majority of people, but this may not be so in the case of celebrities. Many celebrities go to great lengths to hide their stay in a rehab center, but some are willing to grant media coverage on this part of their lives. These events can provide a rare glimpse into the realities of a treatment program.

One of the most notable examples of celebrity rehab occurred in 2006 when country music star Keith Urban entered rehab for the third time. Urban had been married to film star Nicole Kidman for only four months at that time, and he confessed in an interview that he thought rehab would destroy his marriage. Urban added that he had initially considered delaying his treatment for a few years until his marriage was more firmly established.

Urban and Kidman are still married as of 2018 and now have two children. Furthermore, Urban hasn’t returned to rehab or suffered a relapse, according to media reports. Fear of losing a relationship shouldn’t prevent you from entering rehab. It can actually help your relationship in the long run.

About FHE

FHE Health (FHE) is a healthcare institution that provides personalized treatment for behavioral disorders. Our specialties include addictive disorders, mood disorders, traumatic disorders, anxiety, and depression. We understand the difficulties of the treatment process and are committed to assisting you in attaining a healthy life free from addiction. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

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