Are Relationships in Early Recovery a Good Idea? I Think Not…
For a lot of addicts who make the decision to clean up their lives and go to treatment, the days and weeks after a person leaves are at once both a very exciting and extremely critical time that will set the stage for whether a person continues to live drug-free or revert back to addiction.
One of the most prevalent pitfalls—if not the biggest—is for a single person to start seeking out a new relationship in the early stages of being clean. I do understand this because I have made that mistake on more than one occasion when I was ready to start living a new way of life. People naturally seek companionship, comfort, and all sorts of ways to feel good and, make no mistake, drugs are one of those ways. Drugs take up so much of an addict’s time and energy that it can be a pretty big shock when a newly clean person feels the void left by losing the companionship, perceived comfort, and high that the drugs provided.
So it’s no wonder that a person who desperately wants to avoid all things related to drugs and alcohol will begin seeking a way to fill that void in other ways. In come relationships—a new way for someone to check all the boxes with the sex, companionship, and comfort of not being alone. New relationships are exciting for all of these reasons, but they are also extremely dangerous for a person with a vulnerability that only someone who has gone through addiction can relate to. Not only do drugs greatly damage the body, but they also numb a person’s emotions and hinder a person’s ability to cope with everyday life. Somebody coming off drugs and trying to lead a different lifestyle has to be able to learn how to process their emotions again without drugs and also learn how to deal with the stress of everyday life. This is a hard-enough task when their attention is on themselves, but when a new relationship is starting, that is nearly always where a person’s attention will be.
Having a relationship go bad and getting your heart broken is bad enough when a person isn’t dealing with the heightened emotional state that comes with no longer being addicted to drugs. But if you want to see a person trying to deal with something that is negatively affecting their emotions, just talk to a newly clean person dealing with a break-up. Talk about the sky falling…. This typically doesn’t end well, and the quickest way of not having to experience this uncomfortable feeling is the one thing that will numb the pain—drugs. The excitement of being clean has now vanished and a person no longer has his or her attention on the new life they just worked so hard to attain. Happiness has turned to sadness and before the person knows it, they are knee-deep in addiction again, and all they want is for the pain to go away.
None of this means that any and all relationships will be a bad idea after a person gets clean from drugs and alcohol. Quite the contrary. Healthy relationships can be a big thing a person is robbed of through addiction. But for anybody to be good for another person, they must first be good for themselves.
Learning healthy ways to live drug-free takes some time but as time goes by, the person will get stronger and stronger and their vulnerability will eventually dissipate. That’s the point at which a person will be ready to accomplish whatever they set their mind to and be with whoever they find that is right for them.
It just has to be the right time.