You may be feeling all sorts of twisted and confused when you find yourself falling for and dating a recovering addict. However, if you decide to continue the relationship, the journey may be tumultuous. So here are some things you have to consider and keep in mind to ensure that you don’t lose your mind when you’re dating a recovering addict.
When you’re looking for a partner or are already in the dating scene, you may have a list of so-called deal-breakers, which are the things that the other person has which can turn you off. Aside from “married,” “addicted to drugs” or even someone with a history with drug dependence can be some of the items on top of the deal-breaker list.
However, when cupid aims his arrow at you and you find yourself in-love with a recovering addict, what are you to do?
Things to Consider When Dating a Recovering Addict
1. All the relevant facts about their recovery. Consider how long they have been sober. Being clean and sober now doesn’t exactly make them relationship material in the long-run, so you have to find out how grounded and committed they are in their recovery. This doesn’t just set your expectations for your relationship, but also protects him and his sobriety, as relationships, especially those established early in recovery, can have its own share of demands, stress, and problems.
*If the person is still within a year in their recovery, allow them to get grounded and establish their own recovery journey before you embark on a romantic or committed relationship with each other.
2. Know the basics of addiction. You have to be able to flesh out the facts from the myths, if you want to date a recovering addict and have a healthy relationship with them. Keep in mind that addiction is a disease. It’s not a character flaw, a lack of willpower, an immaturity, or a moral failing. There are many studies and articles on addiction that you can find even on the internet which can help you. Like other chronic disease, addiction requires lifelong care and support. So if you think addiction is something you should be ashamed about, or if you believe in the addiction myths, then you have to think twice if you want to date a recovering addict.
3. Avoid snap judgments. If before, when you hear the word “drugs” or “addict,” you were just indifferent or you run away, this time it’s different. You are part of the life of someone who is a recovering addict, and you should know better than make snap judgments. No one deserves such prejudice, and you may be surprised to find out that there are many recovering addicts out there who are in healthy, happy, and thriving relationships. This is after they have overcome a lot of major obstacles and have learned a lot in the process. You may even find out that many of these recovering addicts have a deeper level of self-awareness, humility, and patience than most “ordinary” people don’t have.
4. You will be part of his support system. Now this can be a lot of work, especially if you’re not used to being around a recovering addict. However, if you’re going to be part of a recovering addict’s life, you will know that you have a huge responsibility in providing sober and positive support. You have to make changes in your own life. You yourself have to avoid drugs or alcohol, as well as help prevent situations that trigger your partner’s desire to do drugs or alcohol.
5. Be prepared of excess baggage and more. Recovering addicts often have left a path of chaos and problems when they were still active addicts. They may have broken relationships or problems with their own families, they may also have legal battles, or even health problems. All these can be overwhelming for you, so you have to know all of these and ask yourself, honestly, just how much you can take. This gives you a realistic grasp of the situation and prepares you for what else is in store.
6. Don’t attempt to “rescue,” “change” or enable them. Anything you do to protect them from the consequences of their actions can be considered enabling. This is true in active addiction and in recovery. You have to always remember that you are not responsible for your partner’s choices and recovery. It’s their own choice and journey to take, and you’re just there to offer positive support as they continue to work on their recovery program.
7. Set healthy boundaries. While recovering addicts may have their own set of needs in a relationship, don’t be caught up in it. You have to set boundaries and take care of your self as well. Don’t let yourself be disrespected, abused, maltreated, or even physically violated or hurt. Don’t allow your world to be swallowed in by your relationship with a recovering addict. If your relationship is unhealthy or unhappy, learn to walk away. They may be the right person, but the timing may just not be right.
8. Watch out for signs of relapse. Relapse remains as a lurking shadow for anyone in recovery, even if they have been sober for decades. Addiction is a disease, and a chronic one at that. You have to know the signs of relapse and set rules or plans of action if in case you see these signs of relapse in your partner. The earlier you detect these signs, the better you can get help for them and the better the chance for them to jump right back into recovery.
As with relationships with anyone, dating a recovering addict can have its own challenges. You just have to be realistic about the whole situation and about your own capabilities. While you need to be a support system for your partner, you may also need to get support for yourself.
Still, keep in mind that they are people too, just like everyone else. So overlooking them just because they have an illness can be a mistake. Keep in mind the pointers above and you may find yourself with one of the best people to be around with, even for the rest of your life.