Drug recovery and dating
Although the Big Book of AA doesn’t offer guidelines on dating in recovery, addiction counselors strongly advise waiting until a person has achieved one year of sobriety.
Tanya Desloover, MA, CADCII, a marriage and family therapist intern at The Rose, a women-only addiction treatment center in Newport Beach, California, also recommends waiting one year.
Codependent individuals focus too heavily on the needs of their partner (“My happiness is dependent on making/keeping you happy”), and define themselves by their relationship, sometimes lowering their personal standards to please someone else.
Some women choose abusive partners in early recovery because they lack discernment or grew accustomed to being treated poorly in childhood.
Recovering people often have learned to either shut down and hold in their emotions for fear of being hurt or to romanticize their relationships and fall in love at the first opportunity, without discriminating.
“In treatment, people learn new skills that need to be practiced before they are able to make them part of their daily life without returning to old patterns,” she explains.
Recovering addicts have to re-learn healthy intimacy by overcoming feelings of anger, isolation, fear and distrust and gradually begin to trust themselves to be able to share their hopes, fears and dreams with others.
“In the first year, stay close to your program and figure out who you are,” Desloover advises.
Dating is never an excuse for using drugs or alcohol.
Desloover also advises newly recovering women to attend women-only 12-Step meetings during that first year.
By working your program, you will discover who you are and what you can bring to your relationships, rather than what you can get from them.
Learning to feel emotions again, including positive feelings of love and intimacy, can be one of the most challenging parts of recovery, but also one of the most rewarding.
Contrary to what a lot of people think – that an addict’s job is the first thing to go – drug use shows up first in the dysfunction of the addict’s relationships.
“Learn to define for yourself the things that you will not compromise for a love interest (‘deal-breakers’), such as your values, personal interests and spirituality.