What To Expect When Dating A Recovering Addict

Although every relationship is a unique story, there will usually be some broad similarities when people begin dating. Most new couples will go through a honeymoon phase where everything is wonderful. However, no matter how well your relationship is doing, you will probably run into some issues down the line. Much has been written about navigating the common pitfalls of relationships and dating. You can find a lot of good advice online. However, it’s natural to wonder what to expect when dating a recovering addict. Dating can be a scary prospect, even without the added doubts and fears of dating someone in recovery. At Little Creek Recovery Center in Pennsylvania, we always try to educate our patients and their loved ones. Hopefully, we can give you some useful advice and shed some light on the matter.

Should You Be Dating a Recovering Addict?

Unfortunately, there are many stereotypes regarding addiction and the people who suffer from it. Starting any new relationship is hard, and there will always be a level of uncertainty. Every couple needs to find their way of navigating these challenges. There is undoubtedly an added challenge when dating a recovering addict. However, there can also be plenty of positives. Only you can know for sure if you are ready for what that kind of relationship entails. Hopefully, we can help you make an informed decision.

The key to any successful relationship is going to be establishing trust. The sad reality is that most addicts will lie to cover up their problematic behavior. When people lie, trust is broken, and that can put a heavy burden on any relationship. Individuals that have gone through recovery had to learn a lot about rebuilding trust. During rehab, patients will learn how to be honest with themselves and with others.

One of the first things patients in recovery learn is that they have to be truthful and sincere. They first need to be upfront and come to terms with themselves. Healing starts with individuals admitting they have a problem. From there, patients in recovery will learn how to own up to others. In reality, you can be even more trusting of people who have undergone rehabilitation. They know the importance of being honest and probably have very developed communication skills.

Talk to your partner about their addiction, and ask them how far they have come. You could be dealing with very different scenarios if they are already in recovery vs. if they need treatment. Knowing which stage of recovery they are in will have the most significant impact on your relationship.

Happy couple holding hands.
When you are dating a recovering addict you’ll need to offer them a lot of support.

If Your Partner is a Recovering Addict That Has Already Completed Rehab

If the person you are dating has been through rehab, you have to understand that they have already put in tremendous work into becoming a better person. Most people will never spend as much time improving themselves as much as patients during rehab. Rehab requires patients to do a lot of soul-searching and fully commit to their treatment. Patients who want to get better must entirely devote themselves to that task since addiction leaves no middle ground.

Individuals in recovery have already shown a desire to get better and become the best person they can be. Remember that becoming the best version of yourself is a lifelong journey, not a destination. If your partner has decided they want to stay on that path, it shows they have a lot of determination. The skills patients learn in recovery can also help them to maintain healthy relationships.

Patients can undergo cognitive behavioral therapy, which can help them gain better insight into their emotions. CBT allows individuals to understand the motivations behind their actions. Additionally, individuals can receive dialectical behavioral therapy at the Little Creek treatment center. DBT will help them establish bonds with other people and form functional relationships. As you can see, the skill training in therapy can transform recovering addicts into well-rounded and emotionally balanced individuals.

If Your Partner Needs To Go To Rehab

Individuals yet to enter rehab have a long journey ahead of them. The initial rehabilitation steps are usually the most difficult. A critically important issue that you must understand – you cannot fix an addict, and your love cannot heal them. Addicts require professional help from highly trained specialists. However, your support, encouragement, and understanding will help if your partner is struggling with addiction.

There are several forms of treatment, all with different requirements. One of the initial stages is inpatient treatment, where individuals must stay in the rehab facility. This stage of treatment typically lasts from 30 to 90 days, after which patients can progress to less demanding programs. If you are beginning a relationship with someone about to enter rehab, you’ll need to come to terms with the fact that you probably won’t see them for an extended period.

Even after inpatient treatment is over, there are other programs patients need to go through. It will take a long time before they will be able to maintain a functional relationship. The time required for recovery doesn’t necessarily need to scare you away. Some people are worth waiting for, but you should be realistic about what you are getting into. Sometimes, it is better to postpone entering a relationship until they complete their programs.

The risk of relapse always exists, but the chances of that happening are highest in the early days of recovery. The longer an individual has been sober, the better their odds of maintaining sobriety. If you want to date someone still on the road to recovery, you should be ready to support them through the rough times ahead.

Couple in therapy for addiction.
You can attend therapy together if you are dating a recovering addict.

Visits While They Are in Rehab

The clinical program at Little Creek in Lake Ariel is divided into several stages. Home visits and family integration is possible during the second stage of care. This is when you will be able to see your loved one after they go into rehab. Keep in mind that home visits are not intended for dating. When making a home visit, patients are encouraged to spend time with their families and start re-building trust. Although dating is discouraged during this time, you can still meet up with your partner. Use this opportunity to see how they are doing and to offer them support.

The Relationship When They Complete Treatment

On the other hand, entering a relationship with someone after they have completed rehab is a much more realistic prospect. It would still be best to know what to expect when dating a recovering addict. The best relationships are the ones that begin with honesty. Talk to each other and set realistic expectations from the start.

As with any relationship, there will be good and bad days. It will be up to the two of you to find a way to cope. Individuals who are recovering addicts will need your understanding and support. Family and romantic partners play essential roles in the recovery process. There are certain compromises that you will need to make if you plan to build a lasting relationship.

First of all, if you plan to share a home, it will need to be substance free. There are many forms of substance use disorder, and it would be best if you talked to your partner. Learning what they need is a great way to show them that you care. Ask them to explain their addiction and which substances should not have a place in your home.

Recovering addicts know that avoiding triggers is one of the best ways to maintain sobriety. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to be as easy as just skipping parties with alcohol and evenings at the bar. Addiction triggers can take many forms, and your partner may feel extreme discomfort from mundane things. Specific sounds or smells could even trigger them. If you are aware of your partner’s triggers, you will both be able to avoid problematic situations. This can save your relationship from a lot of stress and frustration.

People who are dating are riding bicycles together.
Your support and understanding can help your partner.

Your Partner Will Need Access to Therapy

Just because the person you are dating is in recovery doesn’t mean their addiction is a thing of the past. You must realize that addiction is not curable. On the other hand, we can treat substance use, and individuals can live sober, fulfilling lives. One of the crucial elements of success is having constant access to therapy.

Even if your partner has completed their outpatient rehab program, they will still need to attend AA meetings. It is also possible for individuals to have a hard time coping with their cravings. In these situations, it is best to seek immediate help. You’ll need to be understanding if your partner feels triggered and needs to cancel your plans to attend a meeting.

Unfortunately, some of the stress and burdens of dating a recovering alcoholic can sometimes make you feel overwhelmed. It would help if you also practice self-care. Making everything about your partner and their needs is a mistake that could ruin your relationship. The fact that you are dating a recovering addict shouldn’t turn the entire relationship into caring about them. You are also a person with feelings and needs and should feel validated by your relationship.

Thankfully, Little Creek offers family therapy to help families build a better home life. Addictive behaviors can affect the entire family. The fact that you are dating a recovering addict will, undoubtedly, put you under a lot of pressure. It is perfectly acceptable to require help and advice regarding how to live with a recovering addict.

Couple watching sunset when dating a recovering addict.
You can enjoy sober activities together.

What If You Realize That Your Partner Is Struggling

As we previously mentioned, there is always going to be a risk of relapse. Supporting your partner also means watching for signs of substance use. Former addicts can be very adept at hiding the initial signs of substance use, making it difficult to tell if they are using again. You shouldn’t ignore any early warning signs since addiction is a progressive disease. Regardless of what they may think, recovering addicts cannot manage their substance use. If you believe your partner is using again, talk to them about it. If they are evasive, you may even need to stage an intervention. You can ask their friends and family for help when confronting them with their relapse.

Recovering addicts will know what’s at stake, and hopefully, they will be open to the idea of attending rehab. Keep in mind that asking for help is always difficult. Your partner may require your support and assistance in the admission process. Although we have a streamlined admission, recovering addicts can be wracked with guilt and shame if they start using again. It may be easier for them to have a friend or loved one contact us on their behalf.

We suggest acting pre-emptively and talking to your partner. If you plan on dating a recovering addict, you must establish a relationship built on trust. Tell them they can turn to you for support when struggling. Many addicts begin abusing substances without telling anyone due to fear and shame. Tell your partner that you accept them for who they are. If your relationship is to succeed, there can be no room for those kinds of negative emotions. Therefore, they must talk to you if they are experiencing cravings. If they turn to you, then you can get them the help they need before they start using again.

Couple having a loud argument due to addiction.
Make sure that you are both ready for the relationship.

Make Sure That You Are Ready To Start Dating

Are you both ready for a committed relationship? Most people come with emotional baggage. However, having a partner with a history of addiction may be too much for some. There is no shame in realizing that you aren’t too keen on dating a recovering addict.

On the other hand, falling in love and feeling butterflies in your stomach is the best feeling in the world. It is far too easy just to set everything aside and lose yourself in a new relationship. You mustn’t neglect real-world problems that can get in the way of the relationship. One such problem could be a history of drug or alcohol addiction. However, even if you are completely fine with that, other issues could prevent you from dating. Make sure you are entering the relationship for the right reasons.

If you realize that you both like each other, but the timing isn’t right, another option is to remain friends. Individuals who have just completed rehab might need some time to get their footing. Although sober life is what patients in recovery hope to achieve, it can also be challenging at times. Perhaps it would be best to give them some time to discover who they are when sober. You can use this time to get to know each other better and build trust. Dating can come later when you are both comfortable with that notion.


There are no guarantees in life, and dating someone new is always a scary prospect. We hope you have a better idea of what to expect when dating a recovering addict. You are bound to succeed if you are honest with each other and build your relationship on trust and mutual support. However, it would be unrealistic to claim that you will never encounter any problems. On the other hand, that is true of any relationship. If you or your loved one need professional assistance from a rehabilitation facility, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can offer you advice, support, and a wealth of online resources.

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“Adventure trek is always popular”

Little creek lodge is such an amazing place for people who want to make a serious change in their life. I’ve watched my loved one grow immensely through his recovery with the help of the caring staff and engaging programs. Adventure trek is always popular on the agenda!

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