A woman "likes" a man's picture on a dating app - Can You Date In Rehab Relationships In Early Recovery

You can date in rehab, but it isn’t always a good idea. Many factors can affect a romantic relationship during rehab; romantic involvement can influence your recovery.

If you’re in a healthy relationship when you enter a recovery program, staying in the relationship may be helpful. But, starting a new relationship during addiction treatment can be difficult and harmful.

Is Dating Allowed In Rehab?

Rehab centers don’t prohibit dating, but most discourage it.

The purpose of rehab is to change your life and heal you. Romantic relationships can be a distraction from these goals. You must focus on your health and happiness, not someone else’s.

Many rehab centers have separate housing for men and women as well as gender-specific treatment programs. These programs remove much of the possibility of romantic entanglement while encouraging platonic bonding with other men or women.

Risks Of Dating During Early Recovery

Most experts agree that dating within the first year of sobriety should be avoided. It takes time to ingrain new habits and adopt a better lifestyle. The focus of early recovery should be staying sober, improving coping skills, and replacing substance abuse with healthier habits.

Starting a new relationship during a treatment program puts pressure on you to make the other person happy and gives you less time to take care of yourself.

Staying in an unhealthy relationship during addiction treatment can increase the chance of dropout and make it harder to succeed in recovery. Other risks of dating during early recovery are:

  • you’re more vulnerable to emotional distress
  • relationships can bring intense emotions that trigger substance use
  • hurt from a relationship increases the risk of relapse
  • your sobriety is fragile, so you’re susceptible to peer pressure
  • you may seek comfort in the other person that you used to get from alcohol or drugs, which can lead to codependency (you can’t live without them)
  • you may not be able to be a good partner because you’re emotionally depleted
  • you might change a lot during the first year of sobriety, which can harm a relationship
  • your self-esteem may depend on how your partner sees you, which makes you more vulnerable

Increased Risk Of Relapse

Dating someone else who’s in recovery may lead to relapse.

If you aren’t both strong enough to stay sober on your own, you could enable each other. Talking about how difficult it is to stay sober and sympathizing with the struggle might permit you to slip.

Dating someone who’s currently struggling with drug or alcohol addiction (not in treatment) is an even more dangerous choice. During early recovery, you likely aren’t capable of helping someone else with their addiction. It’s more likely that they’ll bring you down with them.

Dating someone who has never struggled with drugs and alcohol may seem safe. But if they don’t understand what you’re going through, they may not offer the support you need in early recovery.

Benefits Of Dating In Rehab

Everyone is different. Some people benefit from dating in rehab. This is often the people who are in a good relationship before they enter treatment, but it can also be true for those who find each other at the treatment center. Some benefits of dating in rehab and during early recovery are:

  • having someone close who knows what you’re going through
  • building a support system for your recovery journey
  • encouragement from someone you can count on to be there for you
  • avoiding isolation and loneliness, which are harmful to your mental health
  • focusing less on your problems so they seem more manageable
  • creating a healthy relationship as a fresh start to a sober life
  • having someone to hold you accountable
  • if they’re in recovery too, you can go to support groups and work on positive coping mechanisms together

Whether or not dating during rehab is a good choice for you depends on your needs and the person you choose to date.

Whatever you decide, it’s essential to set boundaries and beware of depending too much on the other person. Your well-being is the focus of the recovery process. You can’t overcome alcohol or drug addiction if you’re too focused on someone else.

Can You Date During Outpatient Rehab?

When many people think of rehab, they think of an inpatient program where you live at the treatment center. Outpatient addiction treatment exists for people with less severe addictions, no history of relapse, or people who want to keep working while in rehab.

Dating during outpatient rehab has the same risks as dating in inpatient care. However, if your substance use disorder is less severe, it can be easier to maintain a relationship in an outpatient recovery program. There’s less time commitment in therapy and you’re free to live at home.

Some people use outpatient care as a transition out of inpatient rehab. It may consist of 12-step meetings that your loved one can attend with you if they’re also in recovery.

Building or growing a relationship can be part of healing from addiction. But you should have a strong foundation in recovery before you become romantically involved with someone else.

To learn more about dating in rehab or to explore addiction treatment options, reach out to a Northeast Addictions Treatment Center specialist today.

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Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

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