Relationships in Therapy: Finding Romance in Treatment?

relationships in therapy

Rehab can be an intense experience; it’s natural to bond with others during your stay in an addiction treatment facility for drug or alcohol abuse. In a support group, you may find yourself empathizing with others’ stories or relating to them better than you did before. While it is acceptable and even encouraged, to make friends in rehab, is it ever okay to start a romantic relationship in therapy? 

 

Dating In Recovery

If you have ever been addicted to drugs or alcohol, you may have formed unhealthy relationships during that time — and lost them or given them up as you became sober, relationships beyond friends and family members also. The early period of recovery can be lonely as you try to rebuild your life. But is it a good idea to pursue dating while you are getting sober?

For most residential treatment programs, the answer is no

Many rehab programs have a policy in place against finding a romantic partner in your treatment center. It can be complicated to date someone in the early stages of recovery, even if they are also getting sober from drug or alcohol abuse. 

couple sitting with their backs to the camera

Alcoholics Anonymous and its sibling program Narcotics Anonymous also stand against dating in the early days of recovery. Because drug and alcohol abuse warp our perception of the world around us, AA believes that it is essential for us to regain a good understanding of who we are — and what we are looking for in a relationship — before starting to date again.

 

The Risks Of Dating Early In Recovery

You might think that policies against dating someone in treatment are a bit extreme. There can even be benefits to dating someone who is also in recovery since they understand, more intimately than most, what you are going through. 

But there’s a big difference between dating someone when you have been sober for many years and dating someone in the early stages of recovery. This difference can make it problematic or even dangerous to get into a relationship during your time in rehab.

Another reason why many drug and alcohol treatment programs do not allow participants to date one another is the risk of codependency. You might replace your addiction to drugs or alcohol with a “relationship addiction” instead. 

Once you are romance addicted, there are many more issues you have to face. Relationship problems, mental health problems, and more. You may soon find yourself in couples therapy, as well as individual therapy, and drug and alcohol counseling

Rushing into a relationship too early in your recovery can lead to becoming overly dependent on your partner’s affection for your self-esteem. You might also make excuses for your partner’s bad behavior, even when the relationship becomes abusive. In some cases, this practice may even enable you or your partner to relapse into drug or alcohol abuse again.

It’s important to go into any romantic relationship as the best version of yourself. You want to be with a partner who understands and accepts your flaws. For someone in recovery, it is imperative to date someone supportive of your long-term sobriety. However, you also need to make sure you are fully healed from the issues that led to your substance abuse before seeking a critical relationship — especially if you want a healthy relationship that will last.

 

Consequences of Dating During Rehab

Dating too early in your recovery from drug or alcohol abuse can sabotage your healing process. You might develop codependency, or “relationship addiction,” which can lead you to relapse or find yourself in an abusive relationship. Both of these conditions can make it more challenging to recover from substance abuse.

You might also face severe consequences while seeking treatment for drug and alcohol abuse. Since most treatment programs have rules against dating fellow participants in rehab, there can be repercussions for breaking these rules. One study found that 8% of participants were expelled from rehab programs for dating others in their treatment facility.

Most importantly, relationships in therapy and in the early stages of recovery can distract you from what matters: getting better. Your sobriety requires your full attention and effort, especially in the early days. Relationships can be a distraction, either purposefully or incidentally, that makes it more challenging to focus on yourself and heal from the wounds that led to your substance abuse.

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Likewise, you want to make sure you can give a romantic relationship your total effort and attention. If you or your partner are trying to get sober, you cannot provide the relationship your best shot. That does not mean you necessarily need to end your relationship if you were in one before deciding to get sober. Still, you might find that the relationships you had during your substance abuse no longer serve you in your sobriety.

 

When Can I Date Again?

Relationships in therapy are rarely advised. However, romantic relationships are an essential part of the human experience, and many of us dream of finding a supportive partner to spend our life with. If this sounds like you, you might be wondering when it is okay to start dating again during your sobriety. How will you know when you are ready to start dating again?

The most important thing is that you are secure in your sobriety before you begin dating again. You need to prioritize getting sober over finding a romantic relationship, especially in the early days of recovery. It isn’t fair to you or your partner if you are still at a high risk of relapse. After all, if you have abused substances in the past, you have probably experienced how substance abuse can easily ruin a relationship.

Likewise, you want to ensure that relationship troubles will not derail your recovery if you have an intense emotional experience related to dating, such as a breakup. You need to ensure you have other coping mechanisms to deal with relationship conflict besides turning to drugs or alcohol. These are skills you will learn during rehab.

Because of the rules against dating during rehab, at the very least, you should wait until you are discharged from a rehab program before beginning to date again. For practical reasons, you might also want to wait until you feel equipped to live on your own again. For example, it might be uncomfortable to bring a date back to your place if you live in a shared sober living facility!

Ultimately, you can’t have a healthy relationship if one or both partners are unhealthy. When you are dealing with substance abuse, you are coping with a disease. Like any disease, it needs to be fully treated before you can show up as your best self again. If you want a relationship that will last — and be supportive of your recovery — you should wait until you feel secure in yourself, your communication skills, and your sobriety before beginning to date again.

Understanding Addiction – Taking Care of Your Mental Health When a Loved One is Battling Addiction

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taking-care-of-your-mental-health
Addiction is a chronic disease that affects all aspects of a person’s life, including their relationships, career, health, family dynamics, and psychological well-being. When a loved one struggles with the disease of addiction, you may find yourself struggling as well. Anchored Tides Recovery has 20+ years of experience of understanding addiction, an all-female staff, and an all-female client base. Many generations of women find their path to recovery with our treatment options. We have also learned some methods of coping with the challenges of loving someone who is struggling with addiction.    Here is some vital information to keep in mind to avoid losing your mind…  

Help Yourself First

It is natural to be ready and willing to do whatever it takes to help your loved one in their time of need, especially if you are a parent. Believe it or not, this is often detrimental to their process and does more harm than good. Trying to be the hero who saves the day can come at the cost of your relationships, finances, physical health, and sanity. The road to recovery is a long and personal process. When you try to involve yourself too much, it can have an adverse effect. You may end up pushing the person further away or even trigger drug abuse to cope. Accepting that a loved one has an alcohol or drug problem is extremely difficult. Until the person is ready to take the first step, you cannot do much to help them.   

Taking the First Step to Overcome Drug Addiction

For many people trapped in the vicious cycle of drug addiction, the most challenging step toward recovery is the very first one. They have to decide on their own that they want help. This concept is crucial to understand. You can not force a person to get help if they’re not ready to admit they have a problem. It can be very frustrating to be willing to do anything to help someone but have your efforts yield no results because that person isn’t ready to accept your help. For this reason, it’s essential just to make sure you’re focusing on your mental health problems and not enabling them further. People with an addictive behavior may feel uncertain about whether they’re ready to attend treatment facilities. You need to understanding addiction and know that strong emotions such as anger, shame, guilt, depression, and anxiety usually come along with the thought of needing help. Usually, a person needs to hit their own personal version of “rock bottom” before they even admit they need help. Hitting rock bottom is personal. For some users, this part of the journey may take a long time to happen or may not ever happen at all.  

Raising the Bottom

“Raising the Bottom” is a term that describes helping a person hit their version of rock bottom sooner. It requires a lot of discipline and strength, but many counselors agree that understanding addiction may be the best way to help someone who isn’t ready to admit they need help. Your role in raising the bottom is to stop any enabling behaviors and make it so their drug habit becomes inconvenient.    Here are some examples of “Raising the Bottom.”
  • Cutting them off financially.
  • If they’re using drugs in your house, tell them they can’t stay there anymore.
  • Call the authorities if you find them using drugs. 
  To many, this is considered “tough love,” which makes it difficult to do when you care about someone. It helps to change your mentality and keep in mind the long-term goals of raising the bottom. Making it harder for them to live comfortably with their choices does not mean you do not love them. The more difficult it is for them to live this lifestyle, the more likely it will be that they come around to the idea of accepting help.  

Is Addiction A Family Disease?

Here are some reasons why addiction is considered a “family disease”:  
  1.  Addiction’s impact extends to the entire family. When one family member struggles with substance abuse, it can negatively affect everybody else who cares about them. Family and friends may get stuck in a cycle of trying to fix the person and then feel resentful when they see no results or see that their efforts are not appreciated.
  2. Mental health conditions, such as addiction, are hereditary. According to a study by the American Psychological Association (APA), more than half a person’s susceptibility to drugs and alcohol addiction is linked to genetics.
  3. Families play a large role in the drug rehabilitation process. Spouses, parents, children, siblings, and friends need to forgive past mistakes and be empathetic towards the current efforts. Empathy will help you to provide the love and support they need to make progress.
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Be Patient and Understanding

The road to recovery can be a long and complicated process, both for the person in treatment and for the people around them. They may try and fail multiple times. They will have some good days and some bad days. Don’t assume that a good day means they’re “cured,” and try not to get frustrated if a string of bad days makes it seem like they will never recover. Just remember always to prioritize your own mental health no matter where they are in their recovery process. Don’t enable or do anything to help facilitate their drug use. You can not help someone who is not ready to accept help. You are not responsible for their sobriety, but you are responsible for your well-being.     Have you found your mental health being affected by a loved one who struggles with drug or alcohol addiction? You are not alone; We are here to help you. At Anchored Tides Recovery Center, we always recommend family members to take part in our family programs. Once the client has completed drug addiction treatment, we recommend the family continue working with support programs to better learn about relapse conditions and understanding addiction. Call us today to get started on the road to recovery and addiction-free life. We will educate you on what the process looks like to begin a drug addiction treatment and what is needed to support your loved ones.

The Impact of Heroin Addiction on Mothers and Children

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babies-born-to-heroin-addicted-mothers
Many people don’t realize how their personal choices impact the people around them. In treatment settings, we have seen families destroyed by addiction; the victims are not always the people who are dealing with the illness. The victims become the loved ones who are most vulnerable. Addiction stems from many sources. Growing up in a toxic environment, sexual trauma, emotional abuse, genetics, peer pressure, etc. For many people, addiction is just in their blood. But there needs to be a catalyst event to turn addictive personalities into people with substance use disorder.  How come so many people get hooked on heroin? The risks and dangers are well known; it’s common knowledge that heroin ruins lives.  What leads people to take that first step to heroin addiction, then?   

The Opioid Epidemic 

Believe it or not, Medical Doctors (MD) are often the cause for most heroin addictions. A car accident, fall, or medical procedure leaves a person in a lot of pain; a doctor then will prescribe an opiate medication to make them comfortable.  The medicine may do its job and take the pain away, but what happens next?  Opiates are highly effective and highly addictive; for this reason, they only get prescribed in limited amounts. It doesn’t take long for your body to become addicted to an opiate. You can quickly develop a dependence, and opiates are known to have some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms of any drug.  You may finish the pills you were prescribed but still be in pain. Now you’re also dealing with extreme discomfort from opiate withdrawal. The combination of pain and extreme discomfort will often cause a person to try to get more pills, legally or illegally.  Pain pills are difficult to come by, and without a prescription, they can be costly. These obstacles result in people turning to heroin. Heroin is still an opiate, so it has many of the same effects, but it’s a lot cheaper and easier to get. Who knew “back pain” would lead to so many people snorting and injecting heroin?   

Heroin Use in Pregnancy

In 2019, about %7 of pregnant women reported using prescription opioid pain relievers. Of those, 1 out of 5 reported abuse (meaning they got them from a source other than a medical supplier or used them for reasons other than pain relief.) Women face unique issues when it comes to addiction and substance abuse. Studies  show that women who use drugs can have problems related to: 
  • Hormones
  • Menstrual cycle
  • Fertility
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding 
  • Menopause
  Issues become more complicated when the user is pregnant. Heroin use in pregnancy can increase the risk of: 
  • Miscarriage 
  • Migraines
  • Seizures 
  • High blood pressure 
  • Maternal death
  Those are only the effects of the mother. Opiate abuse while pregnant, for unborn babies, has been linked to:   Basically, babies born to heroin-addicted mothers are babies born addicted to heroin.   

Babies born addicted to Heroin?

Just like adults, babies can have drug dependencies. While pregnant, the fetus shares the mother’s internal resources. If a mother is putting heroin into her bloodstream, the baby is getting heroin into their bloodstream too. After the baby is born, it may experience withdrawal symptoms.  Your baby will need to stay in the hospital for five to seven days after being born so the medical staff can monitor it for withdrawal symptoms (NAS). The severity of a newborn child’s withdrawal symptoms depends on the length and frequency of the mother’s drug use and if the child was delivered prematurely.   

Withdrawal Symptoms on Babies Born to Heroin-Addicted Mothers

Symptoms of drug withdrawal in a newborn can develop immediately or up to two weeks after birth and can include:
  • Blotchy skin coloring
  • Diarrhea
  • Irritability / excessive or high-pitched crying
  • Abnormal sucking reflex
  • Fever 
  • Seizures
  • Hyperactive reflexes
  • Stuffy nose and sneezing
  • Slow weight gain
  • Sweating 
  • Trembling
  • Vomiting
  Defects of babies born to heroin-addicted mothers could be long-term or even fatal:
  • Low birth weight
  • Premature birth
  • Small head circumference
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  When you are pregnant, treatment aims to mitigate withdrawal symptoms, as they can be harmful to your baby. Methadone or Buprenorphine can help ease symptoms, but your baby may still be born experiencing withdrawal symptoms. Children born to mothers who use heroin beyond the first trimester have a 12x greater risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) than those unexposed or only exposed in the first trimester of pregnancy. You have to be extremely careful about your health and well-being during pregnancy,  not just to protect your life but the other life inside of you.   

Growing up with a heroin-addicted mother

When you are a Mother with a heroin addiction, the roles end up being switched. Your child may be the one who has to take care of you. Children are often manipulated by their mothers when addiction is a factor. They can be asked to get drugs, steal, lie, and cover-up. The sad part is, they think they are helping. They may bear witness to some very traumatic events. They call 911 when you are lying on the ground unresponsive. They cry because they thought that was going to be the last time they saw you. They miss you when you are in rehab. They feel like they are to blame when you relapse. They lose trust and faith in you.  

Effects

What does this pattern of behavior do to this child? 
  • Disappointment
  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional trauma 
  • Physical trauma
  • Curiosity 
Amongst all the negative hurt feelings, there is also a sense of exploration and experimentation. Frequently, behavior that is seen is repeated. That is why there is no surprise that children of heroin-addicted mothers are likely to develop addictions or other mental health issues of their own.  

Breaking the Cycle

Loving someone and who is addicted to heroin is challenging. People need to accept help, and you can’t do it for them. You can still love someone without enabling them. Create boundaries, provide resources, say “no” to any requests that support drug use, and use available resources for yourself. Prioritizing your own mental health is critical. If you don’t, the whole family suffers, and ultimately more damage can be done. If you do not have your health or sanity, how can you show strength for the one who needs support? Do you know someone who suffers from heroin addiction?  Are you that Mother or child?  Being open and talking can help. Many times we bottle up our feelings when we need to express them and embrace them. Anchored Tides believes that sharing your experiences in the right environment encourages growth, so we created a gender-specific place where women can heal. We’re not your typical women’s treatment program. Formed in 2016, we offer women struggling with substance abuse and mental illness a haven at our Huntington Beach drug rehab in Southern California. Take a tour of our boutique women’s addiction treatment center in Orange County. Don’t wait any longer. Call us to talk to a healthcare professional. 

The Benefits of a Female Only Treatment Facility for Addiction

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Finding the right addiction treatment for you can be overwhelming. A simple google search can present you with what feels like an endless amount of treatment options. Treatment should be a safe place where you can get honest with yourself and others, be vulnerable, and develop relationships with other sober people.

Addiction manifests in many forms and affects people differently. Addiction can also impact men and women differently. If you’re a woman and looking to get sober, a female-only treatment facility could be a great option for you. At Anchored Tides Recovery, located in Orange County, CA, we’re a female ran and female-only treatment center. It’s safe to say we totally understand women and recovery. 

What is a Women-Only Addiction Treatment Facility?

A women’s only addiction treatment facility is exactly what it sounds like. This is a facility that has been designed specifically to help women who suffer from addiction. During the 1970s and 80s, it came to light that addiction research was historically done on men, therefore the foundation of treatment was ill-equipped for women. As a response to this, research began on the differences between men and women when it comes to addiction. Studies show that:

  • Addiction progresses faster and can be more severe in women
  • Problems related to addiction interfere with functioning in more areas of life than men’s do
  • Are more likely to encounter health-related issues from addiction

After information on how addiction affects genders differently became available, women-only treatment started to form and flourish.

Benefits of a Women-Only Facility

There are numerous benefits to attending a women-only treatment center for addiction.

It’s Easier to Open Up

One of the most important aspects of addiction treatment is opening up to others. People need to be able to share their experiences regarding how addiction has impacted them while also learning from the experiences of others. Women might feel hesitant to open up regarding how addiction has impacted them with other men in the room. In many cases, drug abuse and addiction are going to impact other aspects of someone’s life, including their sexual health. It’s not uncommon for women to have negative sexual experiences during their addiction. It’s important for women to share these experiences in order to cope. 

Find Common Ground

When women enter a treatment facility that is designed for both genders, they might feel like they don’t have a lot in common with the other people in the facility. This can make it hard for someone to come to terms with addiction and rehab. If the treatment center focuses on women, the clients are going to be able to learn from the similarities of others. They are going to feel like they aren’t alone during treatment. Women’s only treatment also sets the foundation for creating a strong sober network. As a woman, it’s important to have support from other women, during and after treatment. 

All Women Staff

At Anchored Tides Recovery, we have an all-female staff. We feel the best way to run a female treatment center is to have females running it. We pride ourselves on creating a welcoming, safe space for women to start their recovery journey. Our female staff understands what you’ve been through while battling addiction and is dedicated to giving you all the tools you need to overcome this horrible disease. We will help you with your addiction and any comorbid conditions such as anxiety, depression, trauma caused by negative sexual experiences or domestic violence, PTSD, and more. 

We Support Women

At Anchored Tides Recovery, we are a comprehensive, dual-diagnosis enhanced program designed specifically for women, by women. Our program offers numerous levels of outpatient services including a Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP), an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP), a traditional Outpatient Program (OP), and long-term recovery monitoring. We are here to help women overcome addiction and mental health disorders. If you would like to learn more about how our program can help you and your family members recover from addiction, please contact us today!