Futures Recovery Healthcare

Dating in Early Sobriety: Should You Do It?

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There are many questions you face in early sobriety. From where you should live and work to how to find new friends and ways to socialize, questions about how to reinvent yourself and your life in early sobriety abound. But one of the most frequently asked questions is, ‘can you date in early recovery?’. 

When it comes to dating in early recovery, there are many different schools of thought. If you ask one person they may tell you a story about how they began dating their significant other their first week out of rehab and now they’ve been happily married for 20 blissful years. Yet, on the other hand, someone may tell you that they didn’t date for a significant period of time after getting sober and it was a life-changer for them. 

However, many professionals who specialize in substance abuse and addiction treatment often suggest that you don’t date in early recovery. This seems to be consistent advice across the board with addiction treatment professionals. And many wonder, ‘why shouldn’t I date in early recovery?’. The answer to that isn’t always cut and dry. 

Relationships and whether to enter into them or not is a very personal decision. No one can make that decision but you. But, with that in mind, it’s important to realize that when it comes to early sobriety and dating, there can be some challenges along the way that can impact both your relationship and your sobriety. 

Here are three points to consider when it comes to dating in early sobriety: 

1. Keeping sobriety as your priority 

It’s natural to feel some sense of loneliness for many people in early recovery. For some, they’ve lost families, spouses, friends, and even jobs. For others, they were single entering recovery and go into sobriety leaving behind friends and their typical ‘go-to’ social outings. These changes can leave you feeling isolated and lonely. 

This often prompts people to seek out relationships. And after all, what better way to ward off loneliness and have some fun than with a significant other. However, it’s vital during your first year or two of sobriety to really focus on that. This time in recovery should be for building a foundation in recovery. Staying sober should be your main focus. This can include not only meeting new sober friends but nurturing relationships with them. It may also include getting active in whichever support group you associate with.

Additionally, about 9.2 million Americans with substance and alcohol use disorders also have co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, or a mood disorder. When you begin to get sober, taking care of any co-occurring mental health disorders should also be addressed. Treating both substance abuse and any co-occurring mental health disorders at the same time results in better outcomes for both, according to research. 

While many people feel lonely in early sobriety, it’s really vital to throw yourself into your new life and build this foundation. Being in a relationship could take away from this. You’ll have less time to spend focusing on your recovery and may not seek out new, sober connections as much as if you were single. But what if you’re dating someone who’s also in early recovery? While this may seem the perfect solution, it can be a bit tricky and put both individuals at risk of relapse. 

When you date someone who you meet in early recovery, your recovery–whether you realize it or not–may not be as strong as if you were doing it alone. Not only that but if you attend the same support groups–and do it together–you may be less likely to meet new friends and step outside of your comfort zone. What’s more, if you both go to the same support groups and have developed the same friend group, if you break up it could either be very uncomfortable to attend these same functions or someone may have to start all over in building their recovery foundation. All of these items put you at greater risk of becoming isolated and missing vital support from a sober community. These can increase your risk of relapse. 

2. Healing your body, mind, and spirit

Early recovery usually means that your body, mind, and spirit have some healing to do too. Often the body is in bad shape from years of alcohol or drug abuse or both. For some, their health has taken a serious hit from addiction and they really need to focus on recovery for the body too. 

In addition, alcohol and substance use disorders can actually change things in the brain. For some, this will never heal but for most with time and care the brain will return to baseline functions or close to it. However, this takes investing time in developing new healthier habits from eating to exercise and more. 

In Alcoholics Anonymous ‘Big Book’ as it’s affectionately called, the authors talk about addiction needing a spiritual remedy. For many in recovery, they will tell you that having a spiritual awakening is the key to maintaining long-term sobriety. It’s vital in the early stages of recovery that you take time to get to know and develop your spiritual side. This includes not only finding a Higher Power but also rediscovering your own unique spirit. 

All of this takes time to be invested in and focus on yourself. Beginning dating or a relationship at this time will only take away from this. And, it’s essential to take the time to build your foundation in recovery, and healing the body, mind, and spirit is a critical component. 

3. Taking time to get to know yourself 

As your body, mind, and soul heal, you’ll begin to discover new things about yourself. You may begin to see some of your strengths more clearly and some of your weaknesses too. AS time goes on you’ll start to remember some of the hobbies you really enjoyed, some of the adventures you wanted to take, and so much more. This is a vital time to really get to know yourself–another vital piece of long-term sobriety. Understanding who you are and what makes you tick without the cover of addiction is vital to building a solid foundation in recovery to last a lifetime. 

For some, this may be the first time you are alone or single in a long time. It may feel uncomfortable to sit alone with your thoughts and feelings. However, this is when you’ll really get to know–and love yourself. It’s a gift to learn to love yourself and be okay spending time alone. Taking the time in early recovery to focus on you is very important. If you take the time to date in early recovery without really learning to be alone and enjoy your own company you’ll be depriving yourself of this vital time. 

Instead of dating and getting to know others, take this time to know yourself–maybe for the first time. 

Relationships as Addictions

Whether or not someone decides to date is really their business and no one else’s business. However, when it comes to early recovery and dating you should proceed with caution. Not only for the above-stated reasons but also because sometimes one addiction is replaced by another. This can be true with relationships. 

Often a person in recovery may replace their addiction to a substance with an addiction to love or relationships. And while it often isn’t something they realize, after time and reflection, it can become clear that their addiction has now simply transferred to dating, relationships, and love. This is another reason why you may want to consider waiting before you start dating in early recovery. 

Healing from addiction takes time but as many who have done it will attest, it is well worth the effort and time. It may be hard to do, but building a solid foundation–on your own–in recovery will help you to not only survive life sober but learn to thrive in your recovery. 

If you or someone you love wants help with an alcohol or substance use disorder Futures Recovery Healthcare is a luxury, residential addiciton treatment center located in Tequesta, Florida treating adults with alcohol and substance use disorders and mental health disorders. To learn more about our programs visit us online or call us at 866-804-2098 to speak with an admissions specialist. 

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