Many women who have recently started walking the path of sobriety start looking for love soon after successfully completing a treatment program. Perhaps they want to find someone with whom they can share their newfound enthusiasm and zest for life, or maybe they’re looking to fill the hours they used to spend drinking or using drugs.
While you’ll undoubtedly want to mend fences with people you harmed, and you will almost certainly bond with your peers in addiction treatment and 12-step meetings, most experts advise against diving into new romantic relationships in the earliest phases of recovery. Why should you steer clear of dating in this period?
1. You Need Time and Space to Rediscover Yourself
Early recovery is your opportunity to learn who you are without drugs and alcohol blurring all the lines in your life. In many ways, you’ll emerge from treatment as a different person than you were before you chose to seek help.
In early recovery, you’ll be able to explore emotions you previously tried to mask with substance abuse, and learn to own your feelings instead of pushing them aside. This phase of your new life is all about making up for lost time and getting comfortable with yourself, and you should give yourself ample opportunity to do so.
2. You’ll Already Have a Lot on Your Plate
As you will quickly discover, your life in recovery will be very different from what you were accustomed to in active addiction. You’ll have much more free time to spend, and you’ll need to proactively work on creating structure and routine for your life. You will also devote a significant amount of your energy to developing healthy habits and new coping mechanisms that allow you to fight cravings and urges to relapse into substance use.
3. You Will Be More Emotionally Vulnerable
Early recovery can often feel like an emotional rollercoaster, as you work through intense feelings such as shame or guilt. The honesty and trust required to form a strong romantic connection may be too much for you to handle at this point. Even the healthiest, most robust relationships go through occasional ups and downs, and if you aren’t quite ready for this kind of turbulence, one minor disagreement could be all it takes to threaten your newfound sobriety.
4. You’ll Need to Avoid Distractions
In early recovery, anything that doesn’t directly contribute to your goals can hinder your progress. A new romantic relationship could cause you to shift most of your focus to the object of your affection, leading you to ignore essential responsibilities such as attending group therapy or having regular check-ins with your recovery sponsor. Your budding romance could cause you to justify rearranging your priorities and devoting your attention to your partner, instead of your recovery.
5. You Should Avoid Substituting One Addiction for Another
The euphoria of a blossoming romance could be dangerously reminiscent of the high you spent years pursuing with alcohol and drugs. Because of the similarities, romantic relationships in early recovery could put you at risk of filling the space formerly occupied by drugs and alcohol with the thrill of love and intimacy. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why this type of dependence could leave you more susceptible to a return to substance abuse if the relationship doesn’t work out.
Compassionate Addiction Treatment for Women
If you are looking for a way out of the vicious cycle of substance abuse, Canyon Crossing is here when you’re ready to declare your freedom. To learn more about our women’s-only continuing care program, connect with us today.