Being in recovery for addiction is a tumultuous and difficult time. Whether you are just entering rehab, are already there, or have left and are facing the sober life ahead of you, your struggle can leave you feeling vulnerable, weak, and emotionally spent. There are many reasons, most experts would say, not to attempt to form any romantic attachments. Experts in the addiction and recovery fields are largely against romantic relationships forming during rehab, or even for up to a year afterward. Some, however, see some positive benefits and a possibility that these attachments can work in the long term.
Rehab Romance is Tempting
As you go through a treatment program for your addiction, you will be facing a challenge like no other. Those who are not addicts can find it tough to understand what you are going through. You may feel as if there is no hope for you. You probably feel shame for your situation and for the things you have done to others. You may be experiencing physical symptoms that resulted from your addiction. While going through this in rehab, you will be around people who do understand you, who empathize with your position and who are feeling the same things you are. It is only natural to form bonds and connections with these people, your fellow recovering addicts. Doing so is normal and healthy and can even help you get through the process. It can be very tempting to let these connections go beyond the bonds of friendship, to seek out romantic connections. In addition to the emotional support, newly recovering addicts may experience a surge of sexual feelings that were more dormant during the drug or alcohol abuse. These feelings can enhance the desire to make a romantic connection.
The Dangers of Romance in Rehab
The appeal of a romantic relationship in rehab is understandable, but could this type of connection be harmful? Positive relationships are very important to your recovery. You need the support of people who care about you as well as healthy relationships with your caretakers, therapist, and health care workers in order to be successful in becoming and staying sober. However, as you recover, these relationships may be more about helping you than striking a balance between give and take. You need more at this stage in your life and those who care about you will be willing to give until you are healthy again. That sort of imbalance does not work so well in a romantic relationship. You may be creating a relationship that is destined for failure and failing is not helpful to the recovering addict. Furthermore, a romantic or sexual relationship may take your attention away from your recovery. Staying in rehab is meant to be a reflective time and a period of personal growth and betterment. A relationship may distract you from that purpose and hinder your recovery. Another concern is the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, or STD. These diseases are more prevalent in recovering populations and present a real hazard if you are not careful.
Not all experts are so against the idea of romantic attachments in recovery. Some believe they can be positive experiences and also that they may even stand the test of time and turn into true love and lasting relationships. One aspect of rehab romance that makes a long term relationship possible is the honesty. When you are in recovery, you have no pretenses about yourself. The people around you are seeing you at your worst and they are hearing you explore your deepest feelings and thoughts. You have nothing to hide here and that can make for a good start to a relationship between two people. Another potential positive aspect of a rehab relationship is the common purpose. When you leave the facility and face the rest of your life as a sober person, the temptations to relapse will be all around, and at times overwhelming. Having someone on your side, who not only supports your efforts, but is in the same boat, can be very powerful. Certainly, the last thing you want is to start dating someone who likes to party, drink, and use drugs. Whether you are tempted to find romance in recovery or you just do not meet that special someone, never lose focus of your real goals. You are in rehab to heal yourself and to treat your disease. Like other chronic illnesses, this takes time, effort, and dedication. Regardless of any relationships you have or form, put yourself and your recovery first and you will succeed.