Reader Mailbag – “Will My Relationship with an Addict Help or Hurt...

Reader Mailbag – “Will My Relationship with an Addict Help or Hurt their Recovery? When Can I Start Seeing Them Again?”

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Reader mailbag

An anonymous reader asks:

“My boyfriend of 8 months went into rehab a week ago. He is doing pretty good now. He says he wants to see me and I am really excited to see him in a better condition. But i am not sure seeing him so soon is such a good idea at this time? Will my presence be helpful or harmful to his recovery? I want to be there for him, but will a relationship (that has been going on for some time) be good for someone in rehab? If not, When will it be okay to see him again ?”

Good question, reader. Kudos to you for being so thoughtful about the situation and not just rushing ahead without thinking, I think you are already on the right track with how you are handling things.

Unfortunately, there is not a universal answer for this type of situation, because there is such a wide range of relationships that can occur in early recovery. You could have a couple that has been married for decades, or it could be two people who just met each other less than a week ago. These vastly unique situations would require a completely different approach, in my opinion.

You mentioned that you have been seeing each other for 8 months. This is a significant period of time, in my opinion. However, if you had just met him 2 weeks prior, my advice here would certainly be different (in that case, I would advise extreme caution and for both of you to give it much more time before moving forward).

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However, in this case, I think 8 months is fairly significant, and so is your cautious and healthy-sounding attitude towards the situation. I think you will be fine as long as you don’t rush into things.

One word of caution – relationships as a replacement strategy

The creative theory of recovery states that a person needs some sort of replacement strategy in their life to overcome chemical addiction. The word of caution is that new relationships (with their euphoric stage of infatuation) make a very dangerous substitute for spiritual and personal growth.

If you continue in your relationship with your boyfriend, he might do well to ask himself: “What am I doing for my recovery today?” If the only answer he has for that is “My life is perfect when I’m with you,” (or something similar), then that could be a sign of caution. Any long term, real solution for recovery cannot hinge on another person. I’m not just quoting this out of literature, this is what I’ve seen, based on my own experiences. People who use a new relationship as their primary vehicle of recovery or sobriety inevitably fail.

So I don’t think you need to call the whole thing off or avoid him necessarily. But I would use some caution and watch to see if he is truly growing as an individual, or if he is just clinging to the relationship as a “spiritual substitute.”

Thanks again for the question and I hope that helps!

Does anyone else have any suggestions about how to proceed in these circumstances?


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