Advice for Dating in Addiction Recovery

Written by Chloe Nicosia

Dating in Addiction Recovery: The Challenges, Dating Advice, and Dating Ideas

A newly sober and clean addict goes through many changes as they adjust to a new lifestyle without substance abuse. It can be a lonely time for some as they no longer associate with people from their substance-abusing past. It can also present a new challenge: dating in addiction recovery. Is it okay to date in early recovery? In this article, we will look at the sobriety risks involved with dating, what makes dating easier, and dating tips in early recovery. 

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Challenges of Dating in Addiction Recovery

Dating in early recovery can be challenging. By putting yourself out there it can lead to many unexpected upsets that can drive a person off the rails.

Dating in addiction recovery can be challenging because of:

  •   Social pressure – One of the most common date suggestions is to go for a drink. For any recovering alcoholic, this is not a great idea. This would mean that you’d have to talk about your sobriety before even going on your first date.
  •   Social anxiety – Meeting new people is often associated with social anxiety, which may have been dealt with through the abuse of a substance before. The anxiety that one feels may cause sudden cravings.
  •   Breaking your routine – A routine in recovery can give significant advantages, and is usually a part of a sobriety plan. Dating in early sobriety can cause a routine to be broken, which can have severe ramifications.
  •   Self-esteem – One’s self-esteem is often low during early recovery. Dating in early recovery can put a strain on the already-low self-esteem one might have as you have to deal with possible rejection.

The One Year Rule

In treatment programs such as the Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, it is advised that one not date during their first year for the above-mentioned reasons. During the first year of being clean and sober posses the greatest risk of relapse. According to the study on the JAMA Network, an estimated 40 to 60 percent of people will return to substance abuse in the first 12 months of their sobriety. Therefore, dating in addiction recovery should be avoided during the first year, according to many experts in the field of addiction recovery.

In the first year, many people are rediscovering who they are and what they want to represent in their life. What you want out of a relationship in the first month may be drastically different in a year.

Dating Another Recovering Addict

Dating another person who is going through a similar experience can help to not only make a connection, but it can be easier to do sober things together and avoid triggers. However, it comes with its own set of risks to be aware of.

If one person were to relapse, it can not only make it difficult to continue with the relationship, but it can cause you to relapse, too. You may also have feelings of guilt if you feel that you were a part of the cause.

How to Go About Dating in Addiction Recovery

The heart wants what the heart wants. Sometimes it’s not possible to ignore one’s feelings, and meeting the right person that can fill your life with joy can happen at any time. As such, we will discuss how to go about dating in early sobriety.

What Helps?

Just because dating isn’t advised during recovery from addiction, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that can make it easier. The following are some things that can make dating easier:

  •   Continue to go to group meetings – If part of your relapse prevention plan is to attend support group meetings, then make sure that dating doesn’t interfere with those plans. At these meetings, it can be an excellent place to discuss your feelings about the new relationship.
  •   Therapy Sober dating advice would be to stay in therapy so that you can have professional advice about the relationship you are starting. They can help to let you know when you are ready and also help you to navigate through the troubles you may encounter.
  •   Online dating – Today, it’s possible to find like-minded people on dating websites. There are sites that cater for people in recovery from substance abuse, making it easy to meet someone who shares your goals.
  •   Honesty – Of course, honesty is the foundation for any real relationship – and it’s no different for dating in early recovery. Staying clean and sober is a way of life for you now, and even if you fear judgement, your sobriety is something that should be made clear. You may find that they are very supportive of your goals.
  •   Don’t try to change them – If the person you are interested in uses alcohol or drugs, you can’t expect them to change for you.

Drug- and Alcohol-Free Date Ideas

When a person stops abusing drugs or alcohol, their list of activities that can be enjoyed may seem small, but there are loads of things that you can do that don’t involve drugs or alcohol that can be a perfect way to spend some time with someone special.

The following sober dating advice looks at some fun ideas for dates that won’t subject you to triggers:

  •   Bookstore – A bookstore is filled with a thousand different worlds in the pages of the books. It can be a place where you can share and talk about things that interest you, which is a great way to start a conversation. Many book stores sell coffee and have comfortable seating areas where you can converse with your date.
  •   Brunch – Drinking or taking drugs in the morning tends to be avoided by everyone. As such, a brunch date can be ideal, and it can set the tone for the rest of the day’s enjoyment.
  •   Art gallery or museum – Explore your local art gallery or museum during your date. It’s a neutral space that can help to start conversations as you explore the various things on display.
  •   Have a relaxing walk – Going for a walk in your local park can be an excellent date idea that doesn’t involve alcohol or drugs. Bring your dog along so that they can share in the fun.
  •   Classes – A cooking or art class among others can be a great way to share in an experience with your partner.
  •   Become a tourist for a day – Staying in the same place for years can make one feel jaded about the area; however, there is undoubtably tourist attractions that you can enjoy. Go for a guided tour of your area – you might discover places you never knew existed.