Recovering Addict in Rehab. What should I do?

I’m in a relationship with a recovering addict… We started dating a little too soon after he got out of rehab (say 2 months) –obviously he relapsed… I being the only one who didn’t know…. Now he is in a new program doing excellent. He’s been away for 2 months (he went to a program out of the country)… Should I leave him?

Response from Daniel…

The problem in your relationship goes back to its beginning. You may have heard, or at least suspected that, “No intimate relationships during the first hear of sobriety,” may have some validity and can certainly apply here. The overwhelming majority of relationships whose origins go back to an early stage of recovery (during the first year of sobriety) are doomed.

It may help to understand that addiction is as much an emotional problem as a substance or (activity) dependence; that you are powerless over your pain and emotions (from unmet emotional needs) just as you are unable to control your addiction. The first year of recovery not only involves being sober/abstinent and learning how to live a sober life, but also identifying, expressing and handling your emotions. We can assume that in a sexually intimate relationship, emotions will be running high. Let’s also assume anyone in an early stage of recovery, is in emotional withdrawal, with a big hole needing to get filled, and is learning how to deal with his or her emotions without resort to desperate measures, i.e. alcohol for relief. In short, a sexually intimate relationship puts those in early recovery at increased risk of relapse, as those in recovery has not developed enough of a relationship with him or herself to get through an emotional crisis in tact.

Right now, the recommendation is to not “leave” him, but rather put the relationship on hold. In the interim, get clearer about your priorities by putting recovery, meaning time and space from sexually intimate relationships at the top of the list, and put off getting sexually involved with this guy for at least a year. Giving yourselves some time and space to grow as individuals will maximize your chances of creating a healthy, emotionally nourishing, intimate and, yes sexual relationship, one that weather the invertible storms that test relationships.

author Daniel Linder
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