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Inspiring Success on the Road to Recovery

Monday, February 27, 2017

Relationship Tips for People in Recovery

By Dr Mel Pohl, Chief Medical Officer at Las Vegas Recovery Center


There are a few behavioral patterns people in recovery should keep in mind when (re)starting a relationship. 

Tip 1: Wait a year before you start a new relationship

If you're single and new to recovery, it is strongly recommended you wait until you have at least one year of solid sobriety under your belt before you enter into a new romantic relationship. This is so that you can remain focused on your top priority: staying sober. 
New romances can actually become a substitute for alcohol or drugs (i.e, replacing one intoxicating feeling with another one, all of which stimulate dopamine), which can make you vulnerable to relapse.  

Tip 2: Don't keep feelings bottled up inside

Communication is vital to the health of any relationship, and it's a skill that many people in recovery may struggle with. You've likely spent several years or decades burying your feelings with alcohol or pills in order to avoid facing your emotions head on; which can make voicing your thoughts (even just to yourself) challenging and scary, especially at first. But staying with the vulnerability — no matter how uncomfortable it may feel — will help make these emotions more manageable, especially with practice. If you're unsure where to begin, start by simply telling your spouse or significant other how hard it is for you to talk about your feelings. Sometimes the simple act of "telling on yourself" can open the doors to communication and make it easier to be honest. 

Tip 3: Focus on the needs of others

Self-absorption is a hallmark of addiction and when you've spent so long focused on your wants and needs, it can be difficult to begin to consider another person's. But a healthy relationship is 50-50, so it's important those in recovery learn how to be fully present and committed to making the relationship work. 

Tip 4: Know yourself well 

A big part of recovery is learning who you are as this new, emotionally vulnerable person and discovering healthier ways of coping with life stressors. As you get to know yourself better, you may realize that the qualities you seek in a partner or relationship have changed. Whether you are single, in a relationship, new to recovery or have been living substance-free for years, it's a good idea to have an in-depth understanding of your motivations, needs and desires. Before you can understand others, you have to understand yourself first. 

Mel Pohl, MD, DFASAM is the Chief Medical Officer of the Las Vegas Recovery Center (LVRC). Dr. Pohl was a major force in developing LVRC’s Chronic Pain Recovery Program. He is a Board Certified Family Practitioner, certified by the American Board of Addiction Medicine. www.lasvegasrecovery.com