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Advice for Dating a Recovering Addict

Sometimes, a person just seems perfect for you, until you discover something about them — they are working their way out of addiction. Dating a recovering addict may not seem a good idea at first, but it can be if it’s a very special person. If you do see the possibility of a relationship with such a special person, you need to think about it. Dating a recovering addict advice of a special kind may be called for.

4 Minute Read | Published Aug 29 2023 | Updated Mar 07 2024 Expert Verified
Emma Collins
Written by
Dr. Ash Bhatt
Reviewed by
Emma Collins
Written by
Dr. Ash Bhatt
Reviewed by

Some advice for dating a recovering addict

Before dating a recovering addict, learn about addiction

Addiction is not an intuitive condition. Most people, for instance, find it hard to understand the scientific view of addiction as a mental disorder. They also don’t understand how drugs can cause a very specific kind of brain injury that throws up cravings unexpectedly, completely dissolving all mental resistance to drug use.

When you don’t understand what addiction really is, you may find that lapses anger you, and that the challenges involved make no sense to you. Considering that addiction is likely the gravest challenge that this person you like faces, it isn’t a good idea to go in without real appreciation for it. It’s a good idea, instead, to put in some work to understand what addictions are.

There may be other mental disorders involved

Not only is addiction, by itself, a mental disorder, in many cases, it is observed together with other mental disorders. In some cases, these may be barely there; in others, they may be serious enough to cause regular disruption. This may be the case when a person suffering from addiction also suffers from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder or another condition.

Certainly, people with mental disorders may have a delightful personality or a great character. Nevertheless, it’s important to realize that these problems may get in the way; it’s always a good idea to go in with an extra dose of patience, understanding and love.

Make sure that they are fully committed

Addicts often talk a good game and when declaring their commitment to getting better, but may not actually do a good job. Many, for instance, refuse to go to rehab, and instead experiment with DIY recovery methods. This would be a warning sign. An addict who doesn’t attend proper rehab isn’t really serious, and is best stayed away from.

If you can, you should help

Addiction is a chronic disorder that cannot actually be cured; it can only be managed. It takes constant therapeutic work, and a very supportive environment at home. The addict needs it to be psychologically motivated to fight the disorder, and stay healthy. Part of this may mean remaining sober and abstinent from drugs or alcohol yourself. The other part may involve great support for the challenges and difficulties faced. Often, you will need to attend therapy with your significant other. If and when relapse occurs, support would involve offering understanding, but also being strict. It may mean laying down ultimatums of breaking off at some point, and keeping your word.

Being in excellent mental health yourself, helps

Dating a recovering addict can be challenging in many ways. Since addicts tend to have questionable mental health, they can be a strain to those that they are with. Not only do you need to be strong enough to not let your partner’s mental health problems affect you, you need to know to draw boundaries that help you take care of yourself.

In many cases, people make the mistake of entering such relationships not because they are genuinely interested, but because it allows them the satisfaction of codependence –they take satisfaction in making a sacrifice and being a martyr. If you need to, you should visit a therapist to make sure that you have the right reasons in mind for entering the relationship.

Tell yourself where you draw the line before you go in

With addiction, relapse is always a possibility. Some experts even consider a relapse or two an inherent part of the path out of relapse. In some cases, there may be endless relapses involved. It’s important to not get caught up in a terrible spiral of relapses. It can help to tell yourself how many chances you will give your partner before you leave to save yourself.

A relationship with an addict isn’t necessarily doom and gloom. Many addicts do successfully get out their habit, and live productive lives. If you can make the right decisions and enter a relationship with such a person, it can be a wonderful thing.


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