Imagine the huge surprise and the boulder of uncertainties that you would feel if your new-found love reveals that he or she had meddled in substance abuse, so much so that they developed a dependency that they are currently recovering from. The stereotypical impression of addiction to drugs or alcohol would certainly present them as careless, and irresponsible with thoughts that they may still possess a transient vulnerability to drugs.
The first thing you should do in situations like this is to educate yourself on what exactly it means to be addicted to drugs or any other substance. The next thing is to get adequate information about the person’s addiction journey and the present condition of health. It is quite perplexing to make a decision while in this situation, however, there are pieces of information that may just help you make the best decision on dating an addict in recovery.
What You Should Know About Addiction Recovery
A person who is on addiction recovery may either be an inpatient, an outpatient, or has gone through all the stages of rehabilitation and simply following up on aftercare programs such as Alcohol Anonymous (AA) and the likes.
Addiction can be managed successfully. Is there a cure to addiction? If a person was addicted to heroin can they be cured? Like many chronic diseases experienced at different stages in life, like asthma, and heart problems, drug addiction has a couple of treatment regimens and medications that can help to manage the condition but this isn’t an actual cure. The medication and other techniques counteract the problematic and disruptive effects of the drug in the brain, giving the person their life back. The caveat is that the individual in question must avoid the situations and circumstances that may pull them back into the lifestyle of drug use.
What about relapse? It is pertinent to understand that many individuals who have used drugs in their lives have experienced a relapse during recovery. Is relapse unavoidable? No. relapse can be avoided, by adhering strictly to the treatment guidelines. Also, while relapse is very normal, due to the overwhelming effects of drugs in the brain, a person who experiences a relapse and exposes themselves to as many drugs as they used before could overdose.
Are You Ready to Date a Recovering Addict?
Every relationship demands one form of compromise or the other as challenges arise, you may find that your new relationship may change your life in more ways than you know. It is expected of you to be more supportive of their new goals and lifestyle by also adjusting to certain situations. A person recovering from alcohol should not have drinks lying around as these could be triggers for them.
You should also take some time out to ask your new partner some relevant questions to better understand their position and how it affects their present and future. Some acceptable questions are:
- Have you dated during your recovery period?
- Are you presently enrolled in a support group?
- How long have you been sober?
- Do you require any form of support from me during this process?
- Could your situation affect your commitment to a relationship in any way?
How to Date a Recovering Addict
It is necessary to set expectations and healthy grounds In your relationship with a recovering addict. Here are a few helpful tips on how to date a recovering addict:
1. Educate Yourself
Take the time to understand the effects of drug addiction, the type of drug, and its mechanism of action as well as how best to manage it. This is important because you may find yourself playing a major supportive role in the life of your new partner. Attending a support meeting with your partner is another way to immerse yourself in the process and to understand its challenges. This will enable you to understand how much effort your partner is putting into their sobriety.
2. Understand and Avoid Triggers
People who are undergoing recovery often have to avoid situations that trigger their addiction. These triggers, in some cases maybe something you enjoy doing, such as parties, drinking, and the likes. Developing sensitivity to these common triggers can be helpful in many ways. Ask your partner about the things that may trigger their addiction. Help them manage these situations in any way possible. While doing this, understand that most of the job will have to be done by your partner. He or she has to make a more valid effort towards avoiding these triggers and not yourself.
3. Do not refer to Their Addiction During Misunderstandings
Every relationship has ups and downs, and sometimes it can be tempting to point out a flaw during a misunderstanding. However, remember that the addiction issue is a sensitive one and should not be flaunted in an argument as it could deface your partner’s sense of value in themselves and can be extremely hurtful.
4. Do Not Try to Fix Them
Trying too hard to fix a person and smothering them with excessive help often comes off as needy, bossy, domination, and other probable perceptions. Also, keep in mind that your role is to show support, encouragement, and unconditional love.
The desire to save a person from certain situations may lead to codependency. Codependency is characterized by an excess physical, emotional, and psychological attachment to each other as well as complete reliance on each other to feel valuable.
5. Prioritize their Recovery
Love comes with understanding and compromise. If you have made the decision to be your recovering partner you have to make room for their baggage. Be more considerate when they have to attend support groups, be sensitive to their needs when they do not want to attend certain events because they may be triggers. Avoid places that typically bring back negative memories as these are not good for progress.
6. Ask questions
Not many people are open about their addiction and recovery process. Many individuals are having a rough time trying to overcome their past addictions. Some people have triggers in so many places, things and even situation so it would be best to understand the depth of their recovery story before venturing deep into lifetime commitments
7. Weigh their Dedication to Recovery
Recovery from drug addiction is never a walk in the park. It can be extremely challenging since the brain doesn’t just repair itself immediately, this takes years and dedication. There are individuals who are never able to completely keep off drugs even in sobriety. Some people may try to get off one drug by using another equally harmful drug, while some just prefer to keep their relapse a secret. It is important to know how dedicated your partner is to recovering from drug addiction.
8. Beware of manipulation
The fact of the matter is that addiction is a long-term disease and previous addicts are always prone to relapse. Another equally unfortunate fact is that relapse can happen spontaneously and at any time. In the disguise of love, you may find yourself aiding their addiction in any form. It may seem like you are providing temporary relief to your partner until real help is available, but this is a form of manipulation that places you at risk as well.
The healthiest thing to do is to be as supportive and encouraging as possible while dating an addict in recovery, but also stay alert to signs that the relationship may be unhealthy for you.
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