Managing dating while in recovery from addiction

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Being in recovery, especially in the early stages, has its ups and downs. Dating is not necessarily a top priority for everyone, but it’s nice to have companionship.

Days like Valentine’s Day can bring up negative emotions and feelings; for some, there is a longing to pursue a romantic relationship while in recovery.

Generally, most health professionals recommend that people in early recovery from substance abuse wait about one year before pursuing a new relationship. Yet this general rule is not set in stone, as every circumstance is completely unique.

There are risks and benefits to being in a relationship while in recovery, and if you are at a crossroads, there are practical tips and advice you can consider. This can potentially help avoid relapse or a risky situation.

Overdose risks are significant in Illinois, and many of them occur because of relapse. Since 2013, synthetic opioid overdose deaths increased by 2,736%, and heroin overdose deaths increased by 80%.

Consider some of the following advice to help you out in your decision-making.

Initially, you’ll want to assess your personal readiness for dating in sobriety. This may involve some self-reflection about whether you want to pursue relationships or not. Looking inward helps you determine your emotional stability and self-awareness to begin a healthy relationship.

Additionally, you will want to evaluate your motives for dating. This will ensure they align with a genuine connection you are seeking and not simply fill a void.

Before entering the dating world, it’s a good idea to be confident in your sobriety, have a strong support network, and even a relapse prevention plan. Consider some of the following tips to help you out.

Set clear boundaries and communicate your sobriety and preferences openly when you feel comfortable. This could be done at any stage, but generally based on your comfort level with the person you are engaging with.

It’s generally wise to go alcohol-free or choose mocktails or alcohol-free drinks. It is challenging to select alcohol-free venues, as most places serve alcohol in some capacity. Ideally, you are choosing people who respect your choices and boundaries.

Use your support system or consider sober dating apps, which are plentiful in today's tech age. There are generally numerous sober communities you can lean on and meet like-minded people.

Finally, prioritize your self-care and do not lose focus on your sobriety. As cliché as this sounds, there is someone for everybody. Remember, the right partner will respect your commitment to sobriety.

Do not let Valentine's Day bring you down for any reason, and don’t feel obligated to pursue relationships to fill a void. Everything happens in time, which means there is ample opportunity to pursue meaningful friendships and better relationships with family.

Jody Boulay is a mother of two with a passion for helping others. She currently works as a Community Outreach Coordinator for DRS to help spread awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.