Patients in early recovery are generally advised to avoid forming any new, intimate relationships until after the first year of recovery. The reason for this is that those in recovery need some time to nurture the skills and maturity needed to be able to effectively recognize, internalize and process their emotions and feelings. The recommendation is to first understand their new self and their changing emotions, feelings, needs and expectations; whilst maintaining sobriety/abstinence from drugs.
However, maintaining healthy relationships can be an important part of the recovery process. Often, a person in recovery comes out with a new set of positive friends who form a lifetime bond with them; due in part to their connection to recovery. This new set of friends often come from positive circles, such as support groups, group therapy sessions and other recovering addicts.
The patient in recovery can also begin to re-establish trust with their significant other, or family members; they must however endeavor to stay away from negative influences and those who played a part in forming their addiction. The guidelines below are designed to offer advice for maintaining a healthy attitude, as you make a full recovery and embrace your new self.
Keep recovery as your focus
Healthy, positive relationships can speed up the healing process; the patient must never lose sight, first and foremost, of the need to make a full recovery. Recovery needs to remain the priority.
Loneliness is a common emotion for those undergoing rehab programmes; often the temptation is to seek new relationships as emotional support, which could be toxic if with the wrong person.
First develop a relationship with yourself
Firstly, learn to befriend yourself by loving, trusting and understanding the new you. This is the first step to moving away from self-doubt and low self-esteem.
Take relationships slowly
Relationships that progress intimately can often do so quicker than we envisaged; it’s a great feeling to be loved and to share your emotions, but both individuals must understand that recovery should remain the priority. If betrayal and heartbreaks occur, there is the possibility of a relapse for the patient. When a relationship grows at a natural pace, there are greater chances of developing a stronger connection.
Keep expectations honest, healthy and reasonable
It’s important to keep an honest and open attitude, and to understand that your expectations may not always be met. By retaining focus of your goals, you allow yourself to be emotionally healthy; avoiding heartbreaks and fear.
Walk away from toxic relationships
Avoid negative people and relationships which could bring back old behaviors or cause a relapse. Simply walk away from stress-related relationships to avoid future obstacles.