Dating in Recovery - First Steps in Fresno

Dating and Addiction Recovery

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dr. Norris Von Curl, II, MD

Dating and Addiction Recovery: Why Dating in Early Recovery is Not a Good Idea

The journey to recovery can be scary, stressful, and very challenging. Self-care and healthy pastimes will make your transition to a life without substance abuse a little more comfortable. Outings, movies, games, fun, and laughter with friends and family are great self-care remedies. However, addiction counselors strongly advise against dating in early recovery.

Dating in recovery is challenging. Many treatment programs recommend waiting until a person has achieved one year of sobriety to pursue romantic relationships. While the Big Book of AA does not close the door on dating, abstaining from romantic relationships in early recovery is an integral part of the conversation.

Reasons to Avoid Dating Early In Recovery 

Even for the average person, dating can be rough. Heartbreak, toxic relationships, and abusive partners are pervasive issues in dating. For someone with a substance use disorder, the stakes are even higher. Here are some of the reasons why experts maintain that you should not engage in new relationships or relationship changes early in recovery.

Toxic Relationships

A toxic relationship is when your emotional, psychological, and even physical wellbeing is threatened in some way. Any relationship that makes you feel attacked, demeaned, misunderstood, or unsupported is a toxic relationship. As a person with a substance use disorder, you are already sensitive to negative emotions and might be particularly susceptible to toxic relationships.

Healthy relationships are good for self-care. Unfortunately, not all relationships are healthy. A toxic relationship established in early recovery is hard to get out of and may ultimately lead to serious problems, including relapse. The dissatisfaction in personal relationships is often the stressor that leads people to substance abuse in the first place.

Replacing Drug Addiction with Love

After years of numbing emotional distress with drugs and alcohol, learning to feel again — having positive feelings of love and intimacy, in particular — can be rewarding. However, the risk of filling the void left by substance abuse with love and affection is very high early in addiction recovery. In other words, when you start dating too early, you run the risk of seeking comfort in your relationship instead of drugs.

Dating in recovery, especially within the first year of recovery, could easily lead to replacing one form of addiction with another. As someone trying to recover from substance use disorder, you are not giving yourself a chance to learn to stand on your own two feet by getting into romantic relationships early in recovery.

Risk of Relapse 

A high risk of relapse is one of the most common pitfalls of dating in early recovery. Like drugs or alcohol, romantic relationships can make people feel good momentarily but worse in the long run. As a person with substance use disorder, these romantic situations early in your recovery can tempt you to fall back into drugs and alcohol. There is a good reason why dating early in recovery is universally discouraged.

Loss of Identity 

People often suffer a loss of identity when going through transitions in life, including addiction recovery. The loss of continuity leaves you confused about your social role. You have to learn how to live your life without substance use. If you start dating too early, you may become too dependent on your partner. You may end up losing the identity you were trying to build and only able to identify yourself with your relationship.

In the early recovery, you are just beginning to get to know yourself and define your values. That’s why addiction counselors discourage dating in recovery. It’s important that you learn to love yourself before you can love someone else.

At First Steps Recovery, we understand that the first few months of recovery are some of the most difficult. We are an Addiction Treatment and Rehab Center in Fresno, California. If you or someone you care about is struggling with substance use disorder and looking for hope, we can help. Contact or Call us at 844-489-0836 today.


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