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. 

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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.

Helping a Loved One in Recovery: Struggling with Addiction

helping-a-loved-one-in-recovery

helping-a-loved-one-in-recovery

 

Anyone can fall into the trap of addiction. When someone develops a drug habit, family members and friends are also often directly impacted by the addiction. When you’re one of the family members or friends who is being affected by a loved one’s addiction it could be confusing what to do, or hard to empathize with. While many people struggle with addiction, every situation is unique. Helping a loved one in recovery can feel like navigating a minefield. It’s a delicate situation and if you take the wrong step you can make everything worse. This article will help you navigate the minefield that is addiction. 

According to the latest statistics from National Institute on Drug Abuse and Alcoholism, in 2018, about 5.8 percent of American adults were dependent on alcohol or had difficulties relating to alcohol abuse, and more than 11.7 percent of Americans aged 12 or older reported using an illicit drug in the prior month. These statistics represent that millions of people around the US struggle with substance abuse and addiction daily, and almost all of these people have family members and friends supporting their life in recovery. 

 

Is Addiction a Family Disease?

Drug and alcohol addiction is often called a “family disease” because the disease’s impact extends to the entire family, the addict is not the only one affected by this disease. Children, parents, siblings, friends, and even colleagues can have difficulty with the addict’s behavior. Your loved ones are being put in a state of heightened stress and anxiety; Worrying, being lied to, being stolen from, embarrassed, and just all-around concerned. These emotions are enough for family and friends to want to get involved and be sucked into a cycle of trying to “fix” the addict, and then feeling resentful when their efforts don’t work or are not appreciated.

 

How do families play a role in substance use disorders?

Families play a prominent role in the overall recovery process of addiction. They may be triggers for stress, resentment, or feelings of inadequacy which may leave some people looking to self-medicate. 

Sometimes family dynamics are difficult to manage, but it’s important to understand when you’re involved in a toxic relationship so you can take measures to not make situations worse. Family counseling, or understanding the importance of space and distance is helpful when your family dynamic seems to be out of control. Treatment facilities and drug rehab programs offer family therapy sessions that will prioritize relationships and mental health.

Additionally, family members will often be enablers of drug abuse. For instance, someone with a cocaine addiction faces a few obstacles. The effects of cocaine do not last long, and the cost is high, so a common obstacle for cocaine users is money. If you’re noticing the symptoms of cocaine addiction in a family member, giving them money or allowance may be enabling their habit.

While families are often contributors to the reasoning for drug use, inversely families are often a source of strength and guidance for helping a loved one in recovery. It is helpful for spouses, siblings, parents, children, friends, and others to understand addiction and help and protect their loved ones from a relapse. This will help you provide the love and support the addicted person needs to heal completely and not feel isolated or misunderstood. 

Here are a few steps to take for helping a loved one in recovery:

 

Educate Yourself About Addiction

Addiction is complex, and it’s completely okay if you don’t know everything immediately. However, doing your research will help you to understand their struggles and support them in this journey to recovery. Read up on the symptoms, causes, and treatments for depression on your own.

 

Offer Your Support

People with an addiction problem don’t always understand how much family and friends love them. Talk to your loved ones about your concerns, and don’t wait for them to hit rock bottom to speak up about their problems. Try talking them through this phase and instill hope that they can fight this illness. 

 

Encourage Them to Get Help

Seeking professional medical help for getting rid of an addiction is often considered taboo in our society. Help break this cycle by actively pushing and encouraging your friend or loved ones to make that first appointment. Be persistent about how important it is to get treatment for their addiction, but avoid making them feel guilty or ashamed in the process of recovery. Listening to their concerns about the treatment or medications and help address those concerns.

 

Support Recovery as an Ongoing Process

Once your loved one decides to opt for treatment, you must remain involved. Helping a loved one in recovery could be as easy as letting them know that you care and are always available to help. Continuing to be a supportive presence in your loved one’s life can make all the difference.

 

How Can You Support a Person in Your Family Struggling with Addiction?

Conflict in close-knit family relationships can be disturbing for everyone. In such situations, people with drug and alcohol addiction history need to be taken special care of to contribute to a relapse. Social support can help reduce stress and facilitate coping.

You can reduce tension in the household and try to be supportive by

  • Encouraging good communication and providing constructive support
  • Being flexible and resourceful at times of trouble
  • Expressing your love and care for each other
  • Spending quality time together with family and friends

 

Can Drug Addiction Be Cured or Prevented?

Drug addiction is considered a chronic “relapsing” disease, which means that people recovering from an addiction will be at risk for relapse even after years of not taking the drug. However, addiction is treatable, can be managed and treated successfully at a rehab center with specialized treatment options. 

Detox for withdrawal symptoms, short and long-term residential treatment, outpatient treatment programs, support groups, medication-assisted therapy, are just some of the drug addiction treatment options offered at treatment centers across the United States. Treatment plans are tailored to each patient’s drug use patterns and any co-occurring medical, mental, and social problems. Drug addiction can be quit with the help of professionals and the support of family/ friends.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction and ready to take the steps towards a happier and healthier life, contact us at Anchored Tides Recovery. A gender-specific treatment facility and a place for women to heal.