You may be familiar with the old recovery cliche, “getting sober is easy; staying sober is hard.” Navigating your new life alone can seem like a daunting prospect. And now that you have given up on “people, places, and things,” it is natural to desire the closeness of another person. Many addicts new to recovery jump into relationships to avoid feeling alone. The sense of possibility that recovery brings you may make you feel ready for a new relationship. But most experts suggest waiting a year before diving into romance.
Early recovery is a time to work on yourself. It is a time to work on existing relationships still strained from your active addiction. One of the hardest things you will do in your recovery is facing your past mistakes to make amends. Romantic relationships are an easy way to avoid keeping the focus on you. But keeping the focus on you is crucial in the early months of recovery. Right now your recovery is so fresh that you may not be in the best mindset to pick the right romantic partner. Recovering drug addicts often attract other drug addicts. Two vulnerable people make for a problematic pairing in sobriety.
The Dangers of Dating
You may not realize it, but dating in early recovery poses a danger to your long-term sobriety. There are many reasons why:
Dating is a “high” like drugs and alcohol. Emotions you feel at the beginning of a new relationship are natural and healthy. The neurochemistry behind those feelings is like the effects of drugs and alcohol. You may be replacing one high for another.
Break-ups trigger relapses. Ending a relationship is tough for anyone. The pain is especially hard when you are learning to cope without illicit substances. A relationship that ends too soon may cause you to seek solace again with your drug of choice.
You open yourself up to vulnerability. As a newly recovering addict be wary of people looking to prey upon your vulnerable state. Watch out for addicts with years of sobriety who you may listen to as a mentor or sponsor. Keep the relationship professional.
Drug use and awareness of it has become more prevalent in our society in the past few years. There’s a chance that you or someone you know has been affected directly or indirectly by some type of drug use. There is a reason that each individual addicted to drugs starts using at some point. That first step is a path towards addiction that is full of twists, turns, and unexpected obstacles.
Some people start using drugs because their friends are doing it. It might seem like everyone else is doing it, and choosing not to use is a choice that may make someone feel ostracized with their peers. Those who are using typically encourage others to join in on the fun, and from there use escalates in frequency and quantity.
Others choose to start using drugs because they are bored and the effects look like fun. Maybe it’s been a stressful day and someone wants to wind down. Sitting around and watching television or reading a book may not be nearly as appealing as having a drink with some friends or sitting in a circle smoking marijuana while socializing. After they’ve experienced the high the drugs offer, they are an appealing alternative to dealing with the everyday trials and tribulations in life.
Relaxation is yet another reason people give for trying drugs. Work, school, kids, family and everyday life are all common stressors in life that everyone tries to deal with in their own way. Some people exercise, others play video games and some choose to use drugs as a way to kickback and relax. The feeling can be similar to not caring, such as with marijuana, or a euphoric feeling which is experienced when someone uses opiates.
Curiosity and fitting in are strong reasons that addicts give for starting to try various drugs. People who feel bullied, like they don’t have a lot of friends or don’t have things in common with many people their age can have their curiosity sparked. If friends start using drugs, it may trigger a desire to try it out too in an attempt to keep a strong connection with their friends without being an outsider.