photo of a man and woman holding hands while walking on a bridge

While romantic relationships can be a source of strength for men recovering from addiction and substance abuse, they can also pose challenges that can inhibit or even derail the healing process. Addiction experts have noted that both new and previously established romantic relationships are a significant cause of relapses, especially in cases where the relationship goes awry. When a man in recovery is not adequately prepared for the emotional and psychological fallout of relationship problems, he is more likely to revert to addictive behavior. This is largely because he hasn’t yet developed new, healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with the situation.

Romantic Relationships and the Early Phase of Recovery

While every situation is different, the prevailing wisdom among professional addiction counselors is that men should avoid establishing new romantic or sexual relationships during their first year of recovery. Here’s why:

• Substance abuse and sexual activity stimulate the same essential reward centers in the brain, thus delving the recovering individual into risky psychological and emotional territory.
• Men are more likely to enter into unhealthy relationships early in addiction recovery when they should be focusing on their treatment.
• The romantic relationship may come to serve as a “replacement” for addiction to drugs or alcohol, creating fundamental instability that can become dangerous if the relationship fails.
• Making a full recovery from substance abuse and addiction requires focus, concentration and commitment, which can become diluted if the recovering individual becomes deeply involved in a new relationship.

It is essential for men recovering from addiction and substance abuse to take the time to get to know their true selves and restore their damaged sense of self-esteem. Entering into a relationship before these objectives have been accomplished can threaten the forward trajectory of the treatment program.

Existing Romantic Relationships and Addiction Recovery

Addiction often does significant damage to established relationships, and repairing lost trust can take a very long time. During recovery, men need to focus on becoming a better person in the present rather than immersing themselves in the failures of the past. Existing romantic partners need to adapt to the recovering individual’s new situation, and that isn’t always easy; the stresses of a relationship can plunge the recovering person back into the throes of the substance abuse and addiction cycle.

During initial phases of treatment, the recovering individual should have a comprehensive discussion about his existing romantic relationships with his counselor. While evaluations should always be made on a case-by-case basis, it is often necessary for both partners to take a step back before they can take a step forward.

The caring, experienced professionals at the 10-Acre Ranch addiction center for men understand that recovery is a process. While the people you care about can be great pillars of strength, relationships should be carefully managed—especially during the early phases of treatment. Our multimodal approach to treatment helps men develop the tools and skills they need to move past addiction and grow into a healthy psychological and emotional place. To learn more, please confidentially contact a member of our counseling staff by phone or email.

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