Discussion on addicts dating and having sex when in recovery from meth or drugs and why or why not it is advisable. Comments from recovered addicts But seriously, I’ve heard the same thing in rehab: “No dating during the first year of recovery.” CMA and NA people have often said the same thing. (This does not apply to married people living with their spouse in a monogamous relationship).
In the early months of recovery, you’ve given up a lot — your go-to coping strategy, your social network, your approach to life. It’s natural to look to the comfort of new love to counteract the loneliness. Relationships can be part of healing, but finding healthy partners who support your recovery is a challenge. While the guidelines for dating in recovery are similar to the rules of engagement for “normies,” a few rules are critical to your success: #1 Be a stranger.
Dating carries obvious risks. You’re sharing personal information with someone you don’t know well who may or may not be who they say they are. Safety can be of even greater concern for the 40 million people dating online where it’s easy to hide behind anonymity, make up personas and date multiple people at the same time.
“Safety should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind,” says Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, and assistant clinical professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
“In this digital age, we mostly know nothing about our courting partner.” As a couples therapist, Dr. Tatkin has seen many online dating success stories.
But, like other ways of meeting someone, he says it’s a “roll of the dice.” It’s important to carefully vet a prospective mate and avoid feeling too familiar too quickly. Ask yourself: Would you feel confident introducing this person to your friends or family? Does the person show signs of addictive thinking or behavior? Does this person share your interests and have the characteristics you’re looking for in a partner?
“There is no way to know someone right away,” Dr. Tatkin warns. “There’s no forcing this process of knowing, only ways of fooling ourselves. It takes approximately a year to know another person as separate from our fantasies about them and us. So the proper etiquette is to be a stranger, which is what you are.” #2 Beware of nature’s love cocktail.
Compounding the fact that we know very little about a date, our brains release a powerful cocktail of arousing chemicals, compromising our judgment and making us more vulnerable to danger.
We are at “hormone sea,” as Dr. Tatkin describes it, at the mercy of chemicals that drive us to procreate.
For those in early recovery from addiction, it’s especially important to . Standard advice is to hold off on dating for the first year in recovery, largely because relationships take your focus off of your own healing and, with their emotional highs and lows, are a leading cause of relapse. As your brain and body heal from drug abuse, it can be tempting to replace the high of alcohol and other drugs with the flood of chemicals like norepinephrine, dopamine, phenylethylamine (a natural amphetamine), estrogen and testosterone that create the “high” of new romantic love.
For some, relationships and sex emerge as an . Some may find themselves attracted to someone who is also struggling with addiction, emotionally unavailable or abusive.
See infatuation for what it is — a powerfully intoxicating chemical cocktail in your brain — and resist jumping to conclusions that destiny brought you together or you’ve finally found your soul mate after just a few dates.
#3 Be the partner you would want to have. When conflict inevitably arises in a relationship, it’s easy to point the finger at prospective partners as being flawed and needing to change. If you find yourself being a magnet for all the wrong people or feeling “relationship challenged,” the path toward genuine intimacy may start with you. “Most people are drawn to partners at their same level of emotional development,” says Neil Strauss, of The Truth: An Uncomfortable Book About Relationships.
“Instead of trying to ‘fix’ the other person, get help for what you can control: yourself.” Who you choose as a partner offers a wealth of insights into your own challenges. What drew you to a given partner? Use what you discover to heal yourself and the relationship if it’s one worth investing in. “By working on your own emotional health, you’ll be able to meet someone at a higher level of emotional maturity and capability for love,” says Strauss. #4 Be honest about who you are.
Recovery is very personal, so should you open up about it with someone you barely know? If so, when? The answer depends on a variety of factors, including whether you think the relationship has potential, but as a general rule it’s wise to reveal your recovery right up front.
But, warns Dr. Tatkin, “don’t go into detail unless asked. No one wants to hear about your trials and tribulations with your addictive past.” With 23 million people in recovery from addiction, there’s a good chance the person you’re dating also has been touched by addiction in some way.
Whether it’s your recovery or some other aspect of your personality or life experience, let a prospective partner get to know you for who you really are, not who you want to be or who you think they want you to be. “Your new courtship is an audition. You must be yourself but understand that you have no privileges with your stranger partner — yet,” Dr.
Tatkin advises. “It’s good to let your new partner know who you are, including your annoying parts, as long as you rein in those annoying parts for a good amount of time. If you’re a distancer, it may be a good idea to signal that early.
If you are someone who tends to cling, that too may be good to announce fairly early. Telling someone something unattractive about yourself is different than acting out those unattractive or threatening behaviors.” #5 Assess your relationship potential. Once you’ve started getting to know someone, step back and consider whether the relationship is worth pursuing. In his book Wired for Dating, Dr.
Tatkin recommends assessing your relationship for these five characteristics: • Security — you protect one another, regardless of whether you’ve been on a couple of dates or have been together for years • Sensitivity — you recognize and respond to each other’s needs • Fairness — you quickly work to repair any hurts • Collaboration — you help one another learn about each other • True mutuality — you recognize that what’s good for one of you is good for the other If these principles are at work in your relationship, your relationship has a good chance of success, says Dr.
Tatkin. However, “if you find a dating relationship does not embody these principles, you have good grounds for calling it quits and moving on,” he writes. If you’ve spent a lot of time around people with addictions or other mental health issues (for example, growing up with an addicted parent or surrounding yourself with drug-using friends), it can be difficult to feel connected to people who are well.
In early recovery, time spent figuring out who you really are is the best way to find someone to complement your sober life. When the time is right, “go for it!” says Dr. Tatkin, but set a pace that works for you and your recovery. Sources:
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An Interview with Tanya Desloover, MA, CADCII 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.
Most recovering addicts have a long history of dysfunctional and destructive relationships. Early in recovery, relationships are one of the leading causes of relapse.
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. “It is commonly recommended in the recovery community to avoid romantic relationships for the first year, because most of us are just beginning to get to know ourselves and to define our values,” Desloover says.
“We have to learn to love ourselves before we can love someone else.” The Pitfalls of Dating Too Soon People in recovery might choose to date a very different type of person when they first quit using as compared to when they have achieved a year of sobriety, observes Desloover.
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.
“If they start dating too soon, they are likely to choose someone who is emotionally less mature, as they themselves are, than if they waited a year.” Choosing Unhealthy Partners. People tend to choose partners who are at their same emotional maturity level.
It would follow then, that recovering individuals would choose differently after working on themselves first. In early recovery, people tend to choose the same type of partner they would’ve chosen when they were using drugs. This person often is abusive or codependent, as is the recovering person early on. 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. The dissatisfaction they feel in their relationships is often the stressor that led to their drug abuse in the first place. “Women in early recovery often choose abusive men because they seem in control, while the women feel out of control in their own lives.
This control is attractive at first, but soon becomes controlling or abusive” says Desloover. “As women grow more confident and emotionally healthy in recovery, their self-esteem and confidence improves, and they begin to actually like themselves. We teach people how to treat us, so with longer term recovery, we are going to demand to be treated differently than when we are new to recovery.” Replacing Drug Addiction with Love Addiction Recovery is hard work that requires a full-time commitment.
Returning to daily life without the security of being able to use drugs as a coping mechanism can be terrifying, particularly when drug cravings and triggers to use set in. When people stop using and start dating right away, they run the risk of seeking comfort in relationships instead of drugs. “Love addiction becomes a concern when infatuation replaces the ‘high’ of drug use,” notes Desloover.
“Whether the object of the addiction is drugs or an unhealthy attachment to another person, the individual is searching for something outside themselves to fill the emotional void within.” The “rush” of a new relationship can be emotionally damaging and can derail even the most valiant recovery effort. In most cases, individuals who can’t refrain from having a relationship in the first year of recovery are missing an opportunity to address the core issues underlying their addictions.
They may have other mental health issues, compulsions and cross-addictions that need to be addressed as well, before they can truly focus on a relationship.
Other common pitfalls of dating in early recovery include: • Pressuring a partner into a relationship, and then holding them emotional hostage • Being too desperate or clingy and thinking they can’t live without the other person • Waiting to be rescued • Trying to fix the other person, or expecting to be fixed • Being consumed by lust or attraction • Telling too much too soon or not sharing any thoughts or feelings at all Tips for Surviving the First Year of Recovery Continue Working Your Program.
The focus of the first year in recovery should be on working your program, practicing the 12 Steps and meeting with your sponsor, counsels Desloover, not on the distraction of relationships.
New relationships require knowing yourself first. Desloover asks her clients, “Would you want to date you right now? In other words, are you the best that you can be? Early in recovery, people tend to have high expectations of others without thinking about what they themselves are bringing to the table. Only when people know who they are and what they have to offer can they find a mate who is an appropriate match for their values, interests and goals.
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. 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.
“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. Only then will you be healthy and whole as a partner for someone else.” Be Patient. Recovery happens one day at a time. Even though it may feel like the process is agonizingly slow, there is no substitute for taking the time in the first year to focus exclusively on recovery.
Recovering the mind, body and spirit requires time to clear the years of shame, guilt, denial and emotional wreckage, and the likelihood of staying sober increases with each year in recovery. Make a Long-Term Plan. Once individuals pass the one-year mark, they can gradually ease back into dating. At the same time, Desloover counsels, they should continue in therapy for at least another year for help to maintain healthy dating habits. Many recovering addicts benefit from ongoing support to help them work through their insecurities, build confidence, and learn to feel and express emotions in healthy ways.
Dating is never an excuse for using drugs or alcohol. Part of early recovery is learning how to have fun and meet new people while sober. Although bars may be off limits, there are plenty of other places to meet prospective partners, such as AA meetings, volunteer functions, self-help workshops and community events. Many local chapters of AA host a variety of sober functions, including sober surf retreats, sober camping trips and a sober softball team, where people in recovery can meet and get to know each other.
When beginning to date again, Desloover cautions against focusing too heavily on attraction, appearance and external qualities. Instead, she advises people in recovery to choose a partner they feel safe enough around to truly be themselves and whose company they enjoy. Then give friendships an opportunity to blossom into romance. Romantic relationships – and the ups and downs that come with them – are a natural and healthy part of life. By taking the time to become whole before diving into the dating scene, you give yourself a chance not only to stay sober but to have a fulfilling relationship that can be better than your best “high.” The Rose has been providing sophisticated and effective treatment in an intimate home-like setting to women struggling with addiction in Newport, CA.
Trusted and recommended by doctors and therapists, The Rose is considered the top drug rehab center for women in need of addiction and trauma treatment in SoCal.
Aug 01 2017 Categories: Most people can tell you that in order to survive, you must have food and water. However, there is a third component that is just as essential: sleep. And if you are in recovery from , getting adequate sleep is critical. During sleep, your body heals from any damage incurred during the day and protects itself from developing illness. While in , especially during the beginning when your body is withdrawing from your drug of choice, your body has extra healing to do, and every minute of sleep counts.
I discovered the wonders of napping while I was in rehab, and now, six years later, I still take one every afternoon. I learned that a good nap replenishes your energy and regulates your emotions, which is exactly what your body needs as you recover. While you are awake, your brain is like an inbox, filling up with all sorts of information.
By the time you go to sleep, the box is full, and while you sleep, each document, or piece of information, is sorted and filed. Sleep keeps your brain from getting overloaded and burning out, which is key to recovery from stress and being able to work out whatever issues you have that led you down the path of addiction in the first place.
When I was using, I had terrible sleep habits, which is common among addicts. Since I was often sleep deprived, I found myself stuck in a vicious cycle of depression, inability to make decisions, and getting high every time I felt that way so I didn’t have to think about my feelings or deal with them.
Since I was more likely to exercise bad judgment and behave recklessly while I was high, I quickly realized that the quality of my sleep and the chance of relapsing were directly connected.
To better understand the connection, I studied the five stages of sleep, all of which are necessary to receive very specific benefits of proper sleep. • Stage One – Everything slows down as you gradually transition from wakefulness to sleep. • Stage Two – You are in a light sleep that gradually progresses to a deep, restorative sleep, • Stages Three and Four – Your heartbeat and breathing gradually slow down even more.
Your muscles are fully relaxed now, and it is difficult to be awakened at this time. • is the last stage and happens after about 90 minutes after you fall asleep. Your muscles actually become temporarily paralyzed, which prevents you from acting out what happens in your dreams.
Since I was living on Mars bars and Coke, my lack of proper nutrition led to a deficiency of Stage Three sleep, which is the stage that enables you to feel rested upon wakening in the morning. Whatever reserves I had went right to keeping my vital organs running.
Gradually, however, I learned how to make the most of nap times. Here’s how: • Don’t psyche yourself right out of sleep – Striving for perfection can actually make it more challenging to fall asleep. If you aren’t sleepy, simply close your eyes and relax for a little while. • Set the mood – A comfortable spot with minimal light, and no interruptions will take you to the REM stage faster.
• Don’t over schedule – 20 minutes of quality time will take you through all the stages so that you wake up well rested. So, instead of hitting the snooze button tomorrow morning, save those minutes for an afternoon power nap. You will live a healthier life, enjoying long-term sobriety. The Anaheim Lighthouse is a modern and effective . To talk to us about treatment options at our affordable drug and alcohol rehab that fit your needs, call
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