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Stay sober and maintain healthy romantic relationships

Jody Boulay

Special to the Village News

Recovering from addiction is different for each person. There are circumstances where a person in recovery feels a need to pursue romantic relationships. Valentine’s Day can often create emotions that spark this desire.

Generally, most health professionals recommend that people in early recovery from substance abuse wait about one year before pursuing a new relationship. However, there is no set-in-stone time limit, but it’s crucial never to lose sight of recovery goals.

California has done more to help people struggling with addiction. Between 2017 and 2019, the number of facilities offering residential care for substance use treatment grew by 68%, and the number of facilities providing hospital inpatient care more than doubled. While this benefits the state, the goal should not be to wind up back in rehab.

Overall, there are risks and benefits to being in a relationship while in recovery, and if you are at a crossroads, there are practical tips and advice you can consider.

Initially, you’ll want to assess your personal readiness for dating in sobriety. This may involve some self-reflection about whether you want to pursue relationships or not. Looking inward helps you determine your emotional stability and self-awareness to begin a healthy relationship.

Additionally, you will want to evaluate your motives for dating. This will ensure they align with a genuine connection you are seeking and not simply to fill a void.

Before entering the dating world, it’s a good idea to be confident in your sobriety, have a strong support network, and even a relapse prevention plan. Consider some of the following tips to help you out.

Set clear boundaries and communicate your sobriety and preferences openly when you feel comfortable. This could be done at any stage, but generally based on your comfort level with the person you are engaging with.

It’s generally wise to go alcohol-free or choose mocktails or alcohol-free drinks. It is challenging to select alcohol-free venues, as most places serve alcohol in some capacity. Ideally, you are choosing people who respect your choices and boundaries.

Use your support system or consider sober dating apps, which are plentiful in today's tech age. There are generally numerous sober communities you can lean on and meet like-minded people.

Finally, prioritize your self-care and do not lose focus on your sobriety. As cliché as this sounds, there is someone for everybody. Remember, the right partner will respect your commitment to sobriety.

Do not let Valentine's Day bring you down for any reason, and don’t feel obligated to pursue relationships to fill a void. Everything happens in time, which means there is ample opportunity to pursue meaningful friendships and better relationships with family.

Jody Boulay is a mother of two with a passion for helping others. She currently works as a Community Outreach Coordinator for DRS, to help spread awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.


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