Why relationships don’t work in recovery

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Drug misuse remains a controversial topic that has sparked a wide range of studies and viewpoints. Drug abusers display behavioral, physiological, and cognitive patterns that evolve as a result of long-term alcohol dependence and a loss of self-control, with the drug of choice acting as the main motivator. Drug recovery programs, in particular, have sprung up to help drug users overcome the bad habit and, most specifically, to sustain sobriety until the treatment is completed. Although there are several different types of recovery facilities, the 12 step treatment is the most popular. There lies a lot of controversies whether immediately after a rehabilitation program if it’s wise to be involved in a relationship although one is advised not to do so in the program. This essay seeks to outline and expound why relationships don’t work in recovery.
Majority of drug addicts rarely get intimate unless under the influence of alcohol or drugs. When one is abusing drugs, inhibitions tend to be low and one can easily be comfortable when an intimate situation arises. However, once one is sober, one’s self-awareness is heightened, and awkwardness may arise in intimate situations. The major problem is that an individual who is fresh from the program tends to be still weak and one should especially take this time to rediscover oneself and build on personality without the use of drugs. The tricky part is that, should the efforts to initiate a relationship be rebuffed, past successes under the influence of drugs may tempt one to break their soberness streak and indulge in their drug of choice.
Drug addicts characteristically have a “type” and in most cases are people who enabled their behavior by indulging with them or by purchasing the drug of choice for the addicts. In the real sense, drugs dupe one into thinking that certain characteristics are most favorable and after a rehabilitation program, the irony of this basis comes into question. An addict fresh from the program should concentrate on building their strength in soberness and not searching for the right “type”. An experiment gone wrong with the search of the desired partner makes a drug addict prone to relapse, and the best and only way to go would be to first self-discover, build on a new personality based on soberness, and then tackle a relationship.
Drug addicts find it difficult to date “normal” people due to the intricacies involved. Individuals who have not been in the program during a date may want to visit places which may pose a challenge as persons in recovery are advised against visiting places that may rekindle their past. Further, drug addicts, as part of their reformation on the 12 step program, have to be honest which poses a challenge on what to divulge to a new partner yet one is not firmly embedded in successful sobriety. These tenets pose a challenge and whatever one chooses may have a detrimental effect on the drug addict giving credence to the avoidance of relationships when fresh from the program.
Drug addicts seem to pursue the idea that dating someone in recovery is a suitable option as each partner is aware and wants to maintain sobriety. The fact that the partner is aware of the challenges and that they are not likely to tempt one to visit dangerous places such as a bars seems to be a very sound idea. However, the challenge is that addicts in recovery have been observed to be impulsive, obsessive, and oriented to seeking pleasure. This sometimes leads to the two recovering addicts being catalysts for the reversion to old habits of drug abuse. Two wrongs do not make a right; two people who face the same problem, and in this case addicts in recovery, may not be best suited to face drug abstinence and to maintain their sobriety.
A common phrase in the 12 step program is taking it a day at a time. This entails that the journey of sobriety is a day to day battle and not the total length of time one has accomplished while sober. A challenge that is observed among drug addicts in recovery is that; in pursuit of a partner, they seek to find individuals who have already worked the steps and have accomplished a lengthy sober time. One challenge that can be observed is that drug addicts tend to be generally hard to deal with, and even when sober may have strong personalities or unresolved emotional issues that they may find difficult to handle hence a relapse. Further, there have been accounts of people who have been sober even for long periods of time and then relapsed. In this regard, the length of sobriety is irrelevant and can easily be a trap for the addict in recovery. Such a person may think that he/she is strong enough to handle emotions, an assumption that can be potentially fatal and easily contribute to a relapse.
Drug addicts, above portraying unresolved underlying emotional issues, usually have self-esteem problems that are mostly masked by abuse of drugs of choice as well as engagement in illicit relationships. To appear valid in social circles, a person in recovery may depend on a relationship. However, a drug addict in early recovery should learn how to rely on internal or self-validation, as well as loving themselves, to build up on their courage and relation with others. Relationships seem not to work in recovery since the drug addict’s dependency on the relationship as the anchor to their perceived self-worth leads to poor judgment and the consequences can be disastrous with the addict relapsing.
Relationships do not work in recovery as drug addicts in recovery who directly seek relationships seem to exhibit cross-addiction tendencies. This arises because an addict takes drugs for the rewards they offer to their system, making them feel good. Drug addicts, therefore, have been known to replace the need for drug intake with seeking of sexual pleasure as it also rewards the system. The danger in such a notion is that it is simply a form of cross-addiction that does not really deal with the problem but in turn creates another one with potential disastrous consequences of ending up in more addictive cycles.
A person in recovery has not settled in the ways of sobriety and an attempt at a relationship would set the addict up for repeating the same cycle of mistakes done in the previous relationship. This is mainly due to the fact that the addict has not had time to heal their old wounds, assess the life of sobriety, as well as learn and grow in terms of maturity and sobriety. The adage that a habit is a disease and the only way to kick bad habits is to create new good habits, suffices.
A key issue that faces persons in recovery is that they are in an unstable and unprepared mental state and lack recognitions of limits thereby are easily taken advantage of by the partners. Any major decision about life especially as to dating and sex is unchartered territory and poses a challenge and potential danger of relapsing. An addict’s intake of too-much-too-early in terms of decisions to handle is seen as the undoing of many, and the approach to first build and mold oneself is best advised.
The 12-step program asks drug addicts to depend on a higher power, as the spiritual parts of recovery are quite as important. The danger of initiating a relationship too soon in recovery is that there is a high possibility of the partner in question becoming one’s higher power. This scenario is volatile as people may fail, or yet still, the relationship may end, a situation that can easily trigger a relapse.
A person in recovery lacks successful coping skills to deal with life and the possibility of mistaking infatuation for love is quite high. The pursuit of fulfillment of lust mirrors the same tendencies that addicts chasing the highness of drugs exhibit. Such issues encompass the same risky behaviors that may result in life altering consequences such as relapsing. The euphoria experienced from the relationship becomes a reminder of perceived good times during drug abuse and actually many relapses have occurred as a result of such.
Another reason why relationships do not work in recovery is the addict’s rekindling of old flames. This development has been known to trigger old thinking patterns and thus hinder the healing process with disastrous consequences. The association of the drug addict with former feelings of shame, and low self-esteem creates a dysfunction and relapsing from that point on is quite easy.
Drug addicts in recovery exhibit a lack of awareness of the actual journey ahead and the challenge and intensity it poses. A treatment center, therapy sessions or other recovery programs are not just a place to keep one from accessing their drugs of choice, but instead promotes self-discovery and learning how to express one’s feelings. Drug abuse buries one’s feelings and in fact some people actually experience certain emotions for the first time in the program. This may leave the persons in recovery feeling vulnerable, and therefore, adequate time is needed for the drug addict to learn to cope with such feelings. The initializing of a relationship too early in recovery means that one has not yet mastered such feelings and therefore is emotionally weak. A relationship, with its ups and downs, may just be the tipping point that leads to a relapse. The fact of the matter is that evidence shows that a relationship for an addict in recovery is a danger to sobriety; instead of poking the waters, the best approach for such an addict would be to stick with what works and avoid what does not.
In essence, owing to the high stakes involved in establishing a relationship too early in recovery, it is best advised that people refrain from intimate engagement. This treatise has highlighted and discussed some of the reasons as to why relationships do not work in recovery.

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