Why You Shouldn’t Start a New Relationship during the First Year of Addiction Recovery

Contributed by Nikki Seay.

One of the rules you are given when you enter into addiction recovery is that you should not begin a new relationship until you have been sober for at least one year.

The first time you hear that, it may actually sound somewhat silly to you. However, there is a good reason this rule is in place and has been used by counselors and addiction treatment staff for years.

Your addiction recovery process is no doubt one of the most important gifts you will ever have. You are literally fighting for your life and you do not need distractions that take your focus off your main goal. We all know that relationships can be extremely influential to our peace of mind. It is for this very reason that getting involved in a new relationship when you are fresh out of addiction rehabilitation is a bad idea.

You Need the Attention on You

When a new relationship begins, it is only natural that your attention and focus tends to turn toward the other person. You end up spending a huge amount of time and effort in an attempt to please them, when you should be focused on your own addiction recovery.

While you are working hard to maintain your sobriety, you cannot allow yourself to lose sight of the big picture and lose everything you worked so hard for during addiction treatment. Although it may sound selfish, you and your sobriety are all that matters right now.

You Need to Discover Who You Are

Another problem that new relationships pose is how you represent yourself. We all know that in the honeymoon stage of a new relationship, we present our best selves to our new lovers. For example, we may be overly friendly or even laugh at jokes that aren’t that funny, just to accommodate our date. We may agree with them and say that we like a certain movie or music, when in reality we don’t even know what movie or song they are talking about.

An important part of addiction recovery is taking the time to discover who you are now that you are living without drugs or alcohol. During your first year of sobriety, you are starting to discover who the “new and improved” sober you has become. You cannot go into a new relationship or truly get to know someone else if you don’t take the time to figure out who you have become since gaining sobriety.

You Need to Be in Tune with Your Emotions

Another big reason that you should not begin a new relationship for at least one year is because your emotions are still very raw at this point. Let’s face it, addiction recovery is a process that is intense and really takes a toll on you.

Maybe you have never been able to express your feelings before and you find yourself opening up to others like never before. Whether you have always been open with your emotions or not, the first year of recovery is a vulnerable process. It is a time that you are putting new coping skills into practice and discovering your feelings again.

You have to remember that you suppressed all emotion via substance abuse and you do not want to let a flood of emotions out to focus on one person. You may end up clinging to the first person who has something in common with you or has struggled with an addiction in their lives. It is very easy to confuse a commonality with a connection, or to interpret a friendly exchange as love.

Taking time for yourself is important during addiction recovery so that you get to know yourself outside of drugs or alcohol. Once you do, you will find that you will be able to attract and maintain better relationships in your life.

Rachel says:

I really wish I would have learned this while I was in rehab. I jumped right back into a relationship with my new boyfriend as soon as I got out of rehab. I really didn’t even know who I was at the time and definitely had no business in a relationship with him. Once we broke up and I started paying attention to myself, things got much better for me. Being sober is hard, but I’m never going back to drugs.