Addiction Treatment


Addiction, Recovery, and Relationships

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Addiction, recovery, and relationships – this is such a broad and important topic that it is tough to address all of these ideas in one post, but I’m going to try. I have seen so many people experience problems with relationships throughout my recovery that it is just ridiculous.

Photo by funkybug

Recovery is all about relationships, in fact. Think about it. What would recovery be like on a deserted island? You wouldn’t even need a recovery program or anything else to help you get through your day. The only relationship that would need cultivating would be the one you have with yourself, and there would be plenty of time for that because there wouldn’t be any other people around! This little thought experiment gives us a key insight into recovery: it’s all about relationships and finding peace and balance within them.

Those of us in 12 step programs have undoubtedly heard the saying: “resentment is the number one offender when it comes to relapse.” But what is a resentment? It is a problem that we have with a relationship.

So relationships in recovery can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Of course they are necessary and they can provide us with joy and fulfillment in many different ways, but at the same time, relationships can be somewhat dangerous, especially for the newly recovering drug addict or alcoholic.

Let’s dig in and examine relationships and see if we can find some universal truths and any practical conclusions here:

Your relationship with yourself

They say that in early recovery, you have to develop 3 relationships in order to be successful: a relationship with yourself, a relationship with a higher power, and a relationship with a sponsor. For the bewildered newcomer in recovery who is just coming off of drugs and alcohol, figuring out how to have a “relationship with yourself” can be a bit perplexing. I mean really….what the heck does that mean?

For me it meant a couple of things, much of which I did not figure out for the first several years of my sobriety. The first thing it meant was that I had to forgive myself. When I first got clean and sober, the shame and guilt I was carrying for all of the crap I had lived through in active addiction was dragging my down and keeping me stuck. I had to let go of all that emotional turmoil and allow myself to start living again. People in recovery would say “give yourself a break” and I never understood what they meant. What they meant was that you have to allow yourself to start over with a clean slate and forgive yourself for all the chaos you just went through if you ever want to hold your head up again. So forgiving yourself is critical in early recovery. It’s a big part of building a strong relationship with yourself. The biggest amends you make is to yourself.

Another part of your relationship with yourself really takes a long time to uncover–this is the process of truly getting to know yourself all over again. In active addiction, I had covered up those parts of myself for so long with the drugs and alcohol that I had no idea what my life was about anymore. Strip away all of the drugs and alcohol and you are left with a shell of a person–one that needs to learn how to live again and start putting themselves out there and trying new things.

The creative theory of recovery addresses this specifically because it pushes people to find both passion and purpose in their new life. Developing a relationship with yourself becomes natural when you are living with real purpose, helping others in recovery, and creating a powerful new life for yourself.

Your relationship with a higher power

This can be a touchy subject for some but it doesn’t have to be. Consider the different ranges of beliefs that various people will have upon entering recovery: some will believe in God, some will be hard line atheists, others might believe only in the force of the “universe” or in nature as their higher power. All of these belief stances allow for some cultivation of a spiritual relationship, be it through prayer and meditation, studying of religious texts, reconnecting with nature, or simply expressing gratitude to the universe for existence itself.

Photo by wili hybrid

In other words, regardless of your specific belief system, you can work on your relationship with a higher power in some fashion. Doing so is part of the foundation of the creative theory of recovery, as spirituality is the “glue” that holds the whole program together. Focus on the spiritual principles that come from your spiritual relationship, such as forgiveness and gratitude and compassion for others. These principles are the guiding forces in your recovery and a key reason to continue cultivating your relationship with a higher power.

Romantic relationships in early recovery

Romantic relationships are only one small part of recovery, but they can be of critical importance, and can literally make or break your sobriety. Particularly in early recovery, romantic pursuits can and usually are extremely dangerous. The primary reason for this is because of this fact right here:

When we first pursue a romantic relationship, the other relationships in our lives get moved to the back-burner.

This is especially true when it comes to our relationship with a higher power. The reason for this is simple: a new romantic interest “fills us up” and “makes us whole” again, completely filling the spiritual void that otherwise would have been filled by our spiritual practices. This phenomenon cannot be denied and has been played out over and over again by other recovering addicts and alcoholics, almost all of which eventually relapsed due to their romantic endeavors.

Now does this mean that you cannot pursue a relationship in recovery? Of course not. But any sane addict will want to have a foundation of recovery before they venture out into this dangerous territory. Some people suggest waiting a full year in recovery before getting into any sort of a relationship. This is probably good advice, although the specific length of time really depends on how solid a foundation you have built and what kind of relationship you have built with a higher power.

This can be misleading sometimes because there are some very religious people who do not necessarily have a strong relationship with a higher power. There is a difference. If you are seeking a romantic relationship so that it will “fill the void” or “make you whole” then you probably have some more work to do on your spiritual foundation before you can safely get back into the dating scene.

Letting go of old “friends”

One of the biggest stumbling blocks, especially for young people, is letting go of their old friends that they use to drink or get high with. This can be especially tough because in many cases, these people were actual friends and not just “using buddies,” as the recovering community usually likes to dismiss them as.

I personally had some true friends in active addiction and it hurt badly to let them go when I got clean and sober but it was absolutely necessary. There is no way to successfully continue those relationships when the relationship involved drinking and using together on a regular basis and the other person is continuing to use.

There is no easy way around this in early recovery. And again, it is especially painful for younger people, because their friends will tend to be more important to them. But keep in mind that new relationships will form in recovery to replace the old ones (no one wants to hear this of course, but it’s true). Living the creative life in recovery will open you up to many new and healthy people.

Stick with the winners

This goes along with the idea of getting rid of your old drinking and using friends. You will undoubtedly be attracted to the “winners” in recovery–the people who are genuine and helpful and really seem to be working a solid program of recovery. Stick with these people! They are your lifeline and guide to a creative new life in recovery. If you are seeking a sponsor, then pick someone who you think is one of the “winners,” someone who has what you want.

Our peers have a powerful affect on us, there is no doubt about it. If you hang around with shady characters in recovery then you’re probably going to get led down a road that you weren’t planning on going down. Stick with the winners in recovery and use them as inspiration to create a powerful new life for yourself.

Photo by wili hybrid

Communicating feelings – a critical concept

I did not want to admit that this was important in early recovery but communicating feelings is extremely critical. Let me give you the quick crash course:

Feelings versus opinions - when you make a feeling statement to someone, make sure that you are not stating an opinion. Your feelings can be either sad, mad, glad, or scared. That’s it. There are no other feelings (only synonyms and variations on those 4). So when you are having a fight with your teenage daughter about her coming home late, you could say:

“I feel scared when you come home late like that. I also feel hurt that you don’t think to call and let me know you’re running late.”

Those are feeling statements. They cannot be refuted because they involve your personal feelings. No one can take those away from you. So you can’t argue about them. They are what they are.

But instead, if you said:

“It’s irresponsible and inconsiderate of you to come home late like that and not call me.”

That is stating an opinion, and it is therefore arguable. You might think you are communicating feelings but in the second example you are not.

The whole key to communicating in recovery is to accurately convey your feelings to others. This is usually very simple but hard to do. You don’t have to dress it up or talk around it or play games–just state your real feelings (sad, mad, glad, or scared).

Once you practice this a bit you’ll come to realize that you don’t even have to state why you have those feelings or try to explain them at all. Just state them, and the other person can do what they want with it. This leads to a much higher level of healthy communication, rather than just slinging accusations and opinions back and forth at each other.

Connecting with a sponsor

One final relationship I want to mention is that with a sponsor. I’m usually not a huge proponent of sponsorship but I can see where it is an important part of some people’s recovery, and I have certainly benefited from having a sponsor myself. Here is what I have learned about sponsorship:

* A sponsor is merely a guide. They are not a guru.

* A sponsor can hold you accountable, but they can not make you accountable. Understand this difference and realize what a sponsor can and cannot do for you.

* Seek a sponsor who lives the way you want to be living, not one that agrees with your ideas and philosophies.

Action items – what you can do:

1) Cultivate your relationships with yourself, your higher power, and with others in recovery (such as a sponsor). In that order.

2) Remember to communicate feelings, not opinions.

3) If you’re in early recovery, get honest with yourself when entering a new relationship. Are you trying to “complete yourself” by getting involved with someone? If so, back off and regroup spiritually first (hint: this will take a long time/lots of effort).


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  • Anonymous

    Great article, very helpful

  • lisa b

    informative, i want to learn how to have healthy relationships

  • Patrick

    Good luck Lisa B. I am still learning myself…..

  • Alicia B

    Thank you for the article, even though I’ve been sober over a year, it really helps to remind myself what I am working for.

  • Allyson

    Great article. Very helpful and simple enough to understand without being overwhelmed. Thank you!

  • RC

    Very informative article. Been a bit “capsized” since my partner of 3 years+ (80 days clean) said she wanted/needed us to be “friends”.
    I think you have helped me understand her perspective a little better and also question and explore myself more deeply.
    I’m going to try to understand, be there for her and hope it works out.
    Best wishes to all.
    Good job Patrick.

  • Patrick

    Good luck with that RC, sounds like a reasonable approach to me. Give it some time and it will become what it is supposed to be!

  • Cecil

    I have a buddy who relapsed after 1-1/2 yrs clean. At the end of ’08 he verbally mistreated a woman who’s been there for him (they were on/off for many, many years) through every relapse & woman. He began seeing a woman in Nov ’08, relapsed in March and reached out to the woman he mistreated in June while he was in rehab. She wasn’t receptive (heart broken); he’s now with another woman. Very unhealthy behavior. How can I advise him?

  • Patrick

    @ Cecil – to be honest this is not my area of expertise, but I would say the old rule about going for about a year in early recovery without any significant romantic undertakings is a pretty good idea.

    I have watched many, many alcoholics relapse who did otherwise…..

  • Natalie

    I googled advice on this topic because I’m very concerned about a present situation. A guy that I’ve been close friends with for the past 6 years. He has never recieved help for his addiction through any type of structured program. Due to an overdose, he finally decided to check into a rehab with my influence encouraging him to do so. We did date a few years ago when he was clean but I broke his heart by dating another guy. He told me back then and continues to say he loves me even though a lot of time has passed since we were in each others lives. I moved to a different state. I work in a teen recovery program. When I heard about his overdose, I had him fly here to see me because I wanted him away from the crowd he was in. I didn’t have a plan but I just wanted him out of that town. When he got here I told him about the Men’s facility close by that is a year long program. He wanted to go and so he did. He’s been there for a little over a month and a half. I’m his only outside support. His family isn’t there for him because they are on drugs. I’m the only friend he has that lives a clean life. I’m all that he has and he’s even a state away from anyone else other than me. Usually the rehab doesn’t allow female visitors unless family but because I work in the female teen branch of this organization, they allow me to visit him every Sunday for 3 hours. I’ve had about 4 visits with him at this point. I know relationships are not good for those in recovery. But at the same time I’m finding it very hard to just be friends with him. He always tries to hold my hand and be affectionate. He’s not all to blame because I find myself wanting to do the same thing. I’m just worried about the situation and I don’t want him to replase because of me. He says he’ll be mad if I don’t show up for visitation but maybe I should only go twice a month…maybe not at all? I’m very worried about the situation. I want him to suceed. I would be devesated and unable to forgive myself if I messed this chance up for him. :( Help.

  • Natalie

    Also, spiritually, he’s bubbling with life and very passionate about pursuing God. He spends a lot of time in prayer and meditating on positive things. I believe that what he is aquiring spiritually during this time is authentic. However, this still leaves room for relapse because I’ve seen him this way once before.

  • Natalie

    Cool. Props to you! Read the Authors Bio. You write extremly well by the way. That’s amazing that you’ve recovered so well. I agree with you on the long term treatment! Some of the most sucessful programs are those that are lengthy. Drug use is often a lifestyle. They say 28 days can make a habit or break one but addiction isn’t a habit, it’s a way of life. Cool. :) Thanks for the website.

  • Patrick

    Hi Natalie

    I agree that a month and a half in is a bit early to get into a relationship. The problem is that the “newness” of the relationship will kill the drive for spiritual growth and personal development. Of course he will deny this, because it feels SO GOOD to be getting into a relationship with someone. But it is playing with fire.

    When is it not playing with fire? That is a length of time that will vary from person to person. But here is the measuring stick: when he can be happy without anyone in his life. When he is “complete” while being single. That is when he is truly ready.

    If he “needs” you right now….then it is playing with fire and will likely end badly.

    How do I know this? I lived in long term treatment, and watched about 40 guys relapse over a two year period. Every single one was over a relationship.

    Just my 2 cents of course. I believe he has to “get well” without being with someone. I could be wrong…..

  • ciara

    hi iam not recovering from any major addictions but maybe you could say iam recovering from life many of my symptons are the same,i found this articles extremly helpful to me i have just discovered what i have spent month s looking for on this site by chance well there you go,iam a young but iam preventing myself now from destroying my life by reading this thank you x

  • Gracie

    My issues stem from all three relationships. I’ve been clean for about 3 months (after 3 years of daily active addiction). Right before I started my three year binge, I met my current boyfriend. We dived into drugs together. I was 17 living away from my family so they yanked me out of school and I moved home. Within a month I found out he was doing more intense drugs and we broke up because of the mental distance.
    A year later I had coffee with him and the sparks flew like crazy (even though we were both still using). We dated long distance for a year (with a lot of fighting because he continued to use heavier than my “minor daily dabblings” as I affectionately called them). He moved to my university and this summer he was acting needy. I was becoming more aware of my problems and my addictions and asked for a month long break. Within weeks of reconnecting I found out he was once again “in deep”. He went to rehab and then I went to rehab. We went about 2 months without seeing each other, missing each other like crazy, but also talking and admitting it was nice to finally put on “sober glasses” again and see the world and ourselves.
    This process of the “sober glasses” is hard because you see a lot of things about yourself that hurt. I know I’m very angry, mostly at myself for all the chances I ignored or dropped, etc.
    Last week we saw each other for the first time and drove back to our high school town to be with his family. I was incredibly excited!
    It was awful. He wasn’t trying to be rude or cold, and its natural for him to feel weird about himself, but I was very hurt at how he was pushing me away. Five days, four kisses, perhaps 9 or 10 hugs, and 16 awkward hours of driving. I really felt like I was getting to know myself these past few weeks and was ready to share that, but he was in his own little world.
    Now, I’m angry at him. But not like I was when he was using. This time he says “you’re not doing anything wrong”. I know that.
    I love this man. As naive and crazy as this sounds, this is the person I want to walk with until this body no longer breathes. I want a family with his mind and heart and his family. I want to go to meetings with him when we in our fifties and be the old couple that has been sober “for, like, ever!”.
    I’m worried that if we push and pretend now we’ll lose that. And I’m also worried that all those dreams are just gone to the wind.
    Our communication is poor because we are so uncomfortable with ourselves, and I know I have a lot of anger.

    I know that’s a lot, but any advice for folks who’ve entered recovery already in a relationship? Or a third eye view.
    We’re both in college and working our program with 12 steps, reading, sponsors, therapists the whole 12 yards (as one might say).

  • Gracie

    By the way: we’re both morbidly aware of the co-dependency. (both set of parents are social workers. I know, ironic).
    I know that’s where my hesitation comes from, which makes me fear that I just want him because I don’t know any different, and I don’t want to scare him away thinking I don’t worry about it.
    Again, how to solve the communication barrier…

  • Leslie

    I have read so many blogs and so many articles and I hear about all these people that have recovered from alcoholism and it gives me hope, but at the same time makes me feel like why can’t he recover. My boyfriend is an alcoholic and I knew it when I met him, heck we met at a bar and he got stinken drunk, I had to practically pull him out of that bar. I have tried to be supportive, AA, promised to pay for rehab, stayed up countless nights to listen to his drunk babble, but I am losing faith fast. I have been to alanon and it makes me crazy listening to these women and how they put up with it and sometimes I want to yell, ” LEAVE HIM! HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE!” Then here I am still with him, I feel like I am having a pity party but I just don’t know what to do. I know about the disease and what you are supposed to do but I just don’t know how much I can take. Anyone out there have any words of encouragement for me? Tell me there is hope? Tell me to leave? I just need some direction from those that know where I am right now.

  • Leslie

    I am not an addict but I’ve been in a relationship with one for 4 years now. He’s in recovery, 30 days, and I understand that he needs to be selfish right now and work on himself. I’ve been there for him every step of the way… Here is my issue, someone please tell me if I am crazy… In the last week or so he has been distancing himself from me in a way that I can’t understand, we’re best friends, he’s the love of my life, I would do anything for him… He says he is re-evaluating everything in his life and that he doesn’t doubt that I love him but that I need to take a look at what that means. Every time I voice concerns ( calmly stating my feelings) he says that I am hurting his recovery and that he can’t help me with my feelings…. I feel extremely hurt because I don’t know what I am doing wrong. My life doesn’t stop and my feelings don’t change just because he is sober now, I feel as if I am being purged with the rest of his past. I guess I need to know if there is something I should be doing or not doing, If this is common and how to deal…

  • Patrick

    Well it sounds like he is going through some growth at this point, especially if he does manage to stay sober, but the part about denying you of your feelings and saying that you are hurting his recovery, that sounds a little suspicious.

    You can choose your opinions, but you can NOT choose your own feelings. These are things like sad, mad, scared, happy. You don’t get to choose how you feel. If your boyfriend can’t get with that, then that is a pretty big problem.

    He should respect your feelings. Not your opinions, but your feelings. Make sure you are separating the two.

    You might have to defend an opinion. But you should never have to defend a feeling. Why would you have to? It was not chosen. Feelings just happen. We accept them and move on.

  • Jackie

    This article finally explained relationships to me thoroughly enough to see the flaws in my ways to approach recovery in the past. I need to rebuild my relationship with myself, get over my resentments, and find a sponsor. I truly do have a spiritual relationship now that I am turning my will to God’s will.

  • traci

    i dont know what to think anymore. the person i am with right now is the only reason i am clean he literally draggd me away from my “friends” and told me what i was doing to myself and my family all the advice he has given me has done nothing but help. but people are telling me i need to distance myself from him and i dont understand why i should distance myself from a very positive relationship??

  • Patrick

    @ Traci – If he is not using drugs or alcohol and he is a good influence on you then I would ignore what others are saying.

    Of course, if you are codependent, then being alone for a while would probably be the stronger path for you.

    Maybe hit an Al-anon meeting and ask them what they think of your situation? They are the experts at it!

  • Genna

    I was involved with someone (until last week) for just over 3 months, not knowing he had been an addict (heroin +++) or had a whole other past going back the past 10 years – it was long-distance and we spent bursts of quality time together that was more fun than anything, although it seemed to get serious all of a sudden, as these things do, possibly because I could sense something and needed to know where we stood…

    He called me up last week to say that he didn’t see how our relationship was going to work out, especially if he fell deeper for me while visiting me for an upcoming pre-Xmas holiday. The following day’s hour-long phone call revealed his past and blind-sided me, yet despite that, I realised that I actually care intensely (dare I say have love) for this person. I have been through hell this week, and in turn he has too, wracked with guilt and remorse. My biggest fear is that he’ll relapse because of this (he’s been teetering the last couple of weeks, which is why I knew something was up (depressed) and his sister reckons he did have a relapse of some sort 3 weeks ago following bad news in the family and as a result of guilt, although I don’t know for sure…)
    He at least admitted to me (in person when we discussed this further 2 days ago) that he was scared, confused and didn’t know anything but most of all didn’t want to hurt me, especially as he hates himself for what he’s like when on drugs and didn’t want to do that to me.
    Last week it seems he went out with mates, who went home to their girlfiends, but he couldn’t and then got depressed and it turns out, wanted to relapse which is what triggered this (does this mean he wanted to binge vs the ‘softer’ relapse from 3 weeks ago? I don’t know… do I have a right to ask?). Anyway, apparently a sponsor told him to go home so he did, but he says he was so scared and he didn’t want to go down that path.
    After being told last week that his feelings for me had changed (thanks to distance) he is now telling me he’ll take a long time to get over me and will miss me etc., and is doing this not to hurt me in the long run, but also that I deserve better – he obviously cares very much. Despite this, and our vastly different lives, he has given me such joy these last few weeks / months and to have him think that I don’t value that is what’s hurting me – I want him, good and bad (call me crazy, I know, but on the level that means the most to me it doesn’t get much better – he is genuinely a good soul but with an evil shadow).
    I have to give him his space and reluctantly do so, having reinforced to him that he is a good person and that I forgive him, at the same time asking his family for regular updates.

    I am desperate for him to find his way forward, and I realise that I cannot do it for him, but have told him that I am here if he ever needs a friend, or to talk, particularly if he goes astray which is something quite possible given the misplaced sense of loyalty to his more evil friends. When we spoke, he also said he didn’t love himself and therefore couldn’t expect anyone else to, or at least doesn’t accept it….
    He is wracked with guilt but also doesn’t seem to have recovered properly, despite having done rehab 2 years ago, going to alcohol and occasionally pot. The 12 month sober thing doesn’t seem to have happened, and he can’t grasp the ‘one day at a time’ thing when all he wants to have a ‘normal’ life and move on…. to me he’s in a vortex and he’s not playing by the rules that will allow others to help him out of it.

    How do I help him find acceptance for who he is and self-forgiveness? He will not move on unlesss he gets this right (judging from the crash-course googling I am doing now…!) Also, we didn’t really talk about a higher power as I didn’t realise its importance, but I want to be able to use the little influence I may have to help him. I do not judge, and even told him straight that my feelings haven’t changed towards him since he told me but in reading this article, realise that the positive reinforcement and self-acceptance for him are missing….

    As an off the cuff comment I said he should try yoga as it would help him find acceptance and inner-peace, not realising that some form of spirituality is actually a key in the 12 steps and this could in fact be a good answer!
    While I have to come to terms with this disease of his, and its impact on me, I also have to back away – which is very difficult – but is it okay to choose to wait for him, however long it takes, or am I deluding myself that he will get better, when he hasn’t got the first steps right? For me he lacked passion and purpose, but of course it all makes sense now why…. he wants to find it, but is struggling with how to get there. Is there anything I can do beyond what I have?

  • Patrick

    I believe Yoga and other holistic techniques are great for long term recovery, but they are not really the most effective strategy when you are just getting clean, or if you have not yet made the plunge.

    For a using addict or alcoholic, holistic recovery techniques are meaningless. They change nothing.

    No, early recovery requires the OPPOSITE of holistic recovery. It requires overwhelming force, it requires laser precision, you have to stop using drugs at all costs, period. Nothing fancy about it. I recommend long term rehab, or at the very least, detox followed by residential treatment.

    Just my 2 cents of course but for me, I had to start slow and get the basics right. I had to lock myself up and focus on simply not using, at any cost. It took a few months or even years before I started to tackle the holistic path, and start exercising, quit smoking, etc.

  • crystal

    Well I saved my partners life on Sept 25 2010. He went to rehab he came out not loving me. And telling me I was a crutch. I was engaged to this man. He stayed one month in rehab. And now he is 4 mths sober. And is living with his new girlfriend who is a recovering addict at his meetings only knew her a month and moved in together. I still care for him and dont want him hurt. But I been to meetings and all say this is not good. This addict he is with has been in recovery 5 times for cocaine and pills. The guy I was with was on perecets. I am just shocked cause I was with him 2 yrs and have known him all my life and he do me this way. I loved him and never did him wrong. I am not a addict and do no drugs I work at a hospital and he chooses a girl who does not work has a 8 yr old child and depends on her parents she 28 and I am 31 and he is 35. I could be wrong they may make it but I see no good. How long does it take for a addict to get their feelings back?

  • crystal

    thanks I am still at a loss I hope it works for both of them.

  • crystal

    I read the article I was given. I am confused does it mean their relationship is good thing or bad. I really wish them the best. But they are both calling me in the middle of their drama. I dont know what to do about it.

  • crystal

    Will he wake up to see what hes doing?

  • Jessica G.

    Might I also suggest “Relationships and Recovery a Basic Text on Relationships for Addicts and Alcoholics”. It really opened my eyes about romantic relationships.

  • Lola

    Thanks for this information.
    Two weeks ago, I started dating a guy that have been cleaned for more than four months (Cocaine and Marijuana). I did not ask him, he just mentioned it in our first date.
    We’ve been dating frequently in the last two weeks, and I feel we are getting closer. He mentioned the fact that he won’t be able to be in a relationship after a year, but at the same time, he wants us to date exclusively. I asked him to talk with his sponsor about the dating situation, and the sponsor advised him that “to give himself a break’, and keep dating me. I am just scared, I am not familiarized with this matter and have no idea how to handle it.
    He says that I am a good influence for him, maybe because my lifestyle ( I meditate regularly and practice yoga as well) and I don’t use drugs at all. He attends meetings almost everyday and is in touch with his sponsor in regular basis as well, at the same time he says that he needs to find himself and handle life without being clean.
    Any advise about how to handle this situation, I don’t want to he become codependent of me. Although there is not strong feeling between us or any kind of attachment, we enjoy being together.
    Please I’d really appreciate your help.

  • Lola

    Sorry, he says that he needs to handle life without being under drugs effects.

  • http://jwinslow59@yahoo april

    Thank you for this article my boyfriend a recovering alcoholic 7 years sober told me when we met he had been single for some time and was happy that way but ready for a relationship ,was praying to God to put someone good in his life . he also told me his sobriety came first. I knew this all sounded good for some reason now I understand. I,ve never been addicted to drugs and never much of a drinker.I,ve been trying to learn all I can because I want to be an asset to his soberiety rather than a liability. Im an easy person to get along with and he,s turned out to be the most wounderful guy I,ve ever been with. We,ve been living together 6 months and I must say theres alot of harmony between us. I love him dearly. So far all I know to do is be sopportive and understanding if he needs to go somewhere to counsel another alcoholic and I,ve told him whatever meetings etc he did before he met me mustve helped, to continue that never mind he,s with me that I agree that comes first.He prays at the side of the bed every night and I think thats wounderful.I hope to learn all I can to try to be an asset to his sobriety rather than a liability I feel thats what love does. hope im doing right things.

  • http://jwinslow59@yahoo april

    By the way he tells me hes proud of me and that I am good for his soberiety but I still want to learn. his spirituality is rubbing off on me too and he,s been a good infleuence in my life.I use his program to deal with my every day life.

  • cielo

    what if you are in a relationship already with someone who decided to start recovering when you were with them, does that mean I should let him be and not have relation with him for a year?????

  • Mitoman

    reading these blogs doesn’t really help me recover from withdraw lol… I think the only way to do it is through time. But what can I do in the mean while? =/

  • julie

    I met my boyfriend 7 months ago and told me about his past drugs problems right away. He is a very good person and this became more apparent the more time we spent. At 3 months he told me he had started using again and was goign to check into rehab. Which after a couple weeks he got in. He is 4 months sober now, seriously into his program with spirituality and a higher power being the most important part. He has a fantastic sponsor, goes to meetings at least 4 days a week and talks to his sponsor almost daily. I joined al-anon about 2 months ago. The first meeting I walked into was about helping him but by the time I walked out I knew I would be back and it would be about me. I am really into it. I have a sponsor that I adore that I talk to daily, I go to 1-4 meeting a week and my relationship with my boyfriend is wonderful. We have unbelievable communication, and very drama free. We work opposite hours, him night and me days. We talk everyday and I understand that he needs saturdays to go to his home meeting and work with other alcholics for most of the day. Generally we hang out on saturday nights and sundays. At first I had a hard time. When he got out of rehab I wanted his time again but since joining alanon I understand that our programs come first. I am now much better about not demading his extra time. We talk about our programs alot, share our experiences and have wonderful times when he get to be together. I am not perfect and neither is he, some issues have come up but we talk them out instead of attacking each other. No major greivances so far and weve been together for 7 months. The article scared me. I would never want to be the reason for him to relapse. I care about him a great deal and would like for there to be a future with him if that is what is meant to happen. We are both aware that it is not a good idea to have a relationhip so soon but we were together before he got sober. Does that make any difference in that rule? I believe what we have together is supportive and understanding but the article was a bit worrysome. Anyone have any thoughts for my situation?

  • jonny

    well im scared because im starting to get attatched to a girl and im in the early stages of my recovery. ive been clean for 4 months and still think about using. i am confident i can think it through and not use when i have the temptations to use, however, im affraid that if i become more involved/attatched to this person it could lead me to relapse. i have alot going on in my life right now besides this girl. i recently got out of jail on bail, went to and completed a treatment facility, am about to move into a recovery home, and am going back to jail when i get sentenced. i find my biggest problem is loneliness and because of this i think im drawn to this girl more easily. shes been a good support to me thus far, i can express how i feel to her and in the past i never expressed feelings to anyone. today i still find it hard to express my feelings but i am working hard on becoming more comfortable with it. when it comes to expressing my feelings with her it seems easy. she knows my whole situation and ive been completely honest with her and yet she doesnt judge my past but encourages my recovery. shes never had an addiction problem but realizes my sobriety comes before anything. i want to be able to start a romantic relationship but im afraid too at the same time because i dont want to jepordize my sobriety. i am working on staying sober and gtting to the point where i can get my daughter back into my life and cant let anthing get in the way. i dont have a sponsor yet but do have many people in recovery that i goto for support and with concerns. ive been told to go for it but take it very slow but im still not sure if its a good move. can someone who has experience in a similar scenario please give me some advice? i’d prefer and email but a response on here will serve the same purpose. thank you

  • Anonymous

    Mate. Four months clean, no sponsor and being told ‘go for it’ is a recipe for disaster. You gotta look after yourself forst before trying to get fixed by emotional attachments with others. Far too early for that! Remember, the most important relationship you are ever likely to have, and is life long, is with yourself. By fixing on someone else, you will be avoiding yourself. Co-dependent lifestyles are a set up to relapse. use your fellowship and get a sponsor asap!

  • Samantha

    Hi Patrick
    I just came across your article – very helpful. I had been seeing someone for a few months who had just started his recovery for co-dependency. He is an old friend but it turned quickly into more when we re met. He was very open with me about his recovery and even told me that he might have to let me go in the short term until he was better but we kept going. Now 3 months in when I am there to support him he suddenly dissapears on me and won’t return my calls or texts etc. I was told by his friends wife who is now married to a recovered co dependent that they are told to just cut off from people who threaten their recovery. why could he not do the decent thing and end things normally. Is this really what they are advised and why would he do that to me when I am only loving and supporting him? Do I walk away from him or be there for him no matter what when he decides he is better if he does at all? Any advise would be hugely appreciated. Thanks

  • Samantha

    …. and why would I be seen by him to be threatening his recovery?

  • Summer

    I am in a somewhat similar situation. My wonderful boyfriend is suddenly ignoring me and saying I threaten his recovery. I have done nothing but support him since I met him 4 months ago. I wish I understood why he views me as a threat. It’s heartbreaking.

  • Gloria Andersen

    Hi, what about two early recovering drug addicts falling in love, all this will the two are different people. My recoverin drug addict husband of 18 years just told me that “he is in love a a married in early recovery from drugs…whom also is only 21 years old…my husband is 42.
    Any comments will be greatly appreciated.

  • susan

    I have been cleaan for 14 months and I would like to find a good man to have a relatjonship with I am the secretary at equal time group at our AA house in cedartown Ga. I love being clean. its the greatest just trying to find relationship happiness

  • susan

    To all you recovering drug attics. My best advice to you is to find you an AA or NA program. Get involved and stick to it. That is the way that I got cleaned. I have 14 mths clean. Good luck to you all.

  • Jen

    Hi. I started dating a recovering alcoholic/addict of 3 years…20 months ago. After 10 months, we moved in together. From day 1, we have had nothing but fun, laughter, talk about AA, etc. Between the two of us we have 5 children (none of them together) and when we are together on weekends, we truly have an amazing time. I fell head over heels in love with him and have worked hard to learn more about his addictions and recovery, etc. The past 6 months, I have gone through a lot of changes in my life, extrememly stressfull (loss of job, new job, going through legal issues, financial difficulties), but I thought we were keeping lines of communication open and everything has been wonderful. Last week, he told me that he was having a very hard time balancing a relationship and his sobriety. He has had thoughts of driking again, found himself in a liquor store and he recognizes he needs to get out of the relationship. He has left me to put my house up for sale, is leaving me in the midst of my troubles, and originally said he wants to continue to date me, but last night said he doesn’t know if he’s even healthly enough to do that. I am left completely broken hearted, shocked, and so confused. We attended the same gym, church every Sunday and truly an amazing kind of love. We went through Christmas normal and I cannot stop trying to understand where he is coming from. I love him so much, that I don’t know how I will cope when he moves out. The saying about Having loved and loss is better than not having loved at all…is questionable. He is even so great with my children and my dog. I really don’t think it’s possible to find someone that can compare to him. Yes, I didn’t always like that he had to go to many meetings, etc., but being with him was still worth it. My advice is to watch out. I think he became addicted to me (in a way), but when things got too stressful, he backed out. I am so disappointed in his “broken promises”. Watch yourself…I really have never been through anything as upsetting as this in my life.

  • Keith

    I’ve also just gone through the same thing,we started dating 5 months ago and feel in love right away,she has a 6 year old son who i have also become very close to,she has 19 months clean And I couldn’t Be happier for her.3 days ago she dropped a bomb on me and told me it was over,I have always told her that her recovery will always comes first and I will always understand that,and be there to help in any way if it was just to listen.we had talked of having her and her son move in with me and maybe someday staring a family,I have never had a problem with drugs or alcohol and I stopped drinking when I first got together with her(just something I do after the summer season I’m a chef).i just so lost now and I’m left to pick up the pieces

  • dj

    I am living on my own after leaving a 20 year relationship 6 months ago, breaking my partner’s heart. Too much, stress, conflict, and pain led me to make this abrupt decision. I realize now that I lost myself in a sea of co -dependence and addictive behaviour. I stopped being honest about my feelings and covered them up with too much work, chores, problems to solve and addiction. I am beginning to face the addiction has played in my life. I know that when this relationship began, I stopped smoking and drank only occasionally…wine with dinner, a beer with friends, after a game or mowing the lawn. I was happy…..with me and my life. Things changed when stressors started mounting up….losses occurred…..conflict increased. I started drinking more…..incuding by myself. I started covering it up, lying about it. My closest two friends , one who watched me begin my relationship with alcohol in adolescence, knew. My partner to this day says, “You are not an alcoholic.” My sister says “don’t tell mom you went to an AA meeting” what? In other word….don’t upset her…worry her. Hmmmmm.
    In the middle of the wreckage of my life last summer, I met someone who had just lost her partner, an old friend of mine who stopped drinking years ago. I began to fall for her, was honest about that, explained the whole situation……we knew neither of us was ready to get involved……but we both feel strongly about each other. She is clear, has a strong spiritual life, has worked through a ton of stuff….I am just beginning…….I know she is ‘good’ for me but know I need to ‘do my work’. Take this time for myself……stay sober……..clear up the old relationship, the house etc…… wondering about what kind of intact I should continue to have with this kind, healthy, loving but clearly ‘more ready for a relationship person than I am’ person. I have had a very difficult time extracting myself from the old relationship. Her on troll, fear, despondency issues make it hard to even communicate about practical things.
    Any thoughts out there ?

  • dj

    Should have said ‘the role addiction has played in my life ‘
    And the last line should say ‘my partner’s control issues, her own co-dependency, and her devastation over many things, including my leaving’ make it very difficult to talk about even practical things.’ Sorry about these mistakes.

  • dj

    and also should have said what kind of ‘contact’ not ‘intact’ should I have with new person

  • Paula C

    i still personally do not like romantic relationships they can be a bit much i have 17yrs in recovery. but i know. That i look for healthy relationships. No more low self esteem i think first. And get more spirtually fit. God comes first Since i been sober and dokng the right thing. Cant find a man. i dated yes. They seem to want yhe loose women. Yes men in recovery are scared of me. I dont know why.

  • Nicola

    This article helped alot recently started seen someone has just said he 50 days clean things were grand then he said he hadnt time for the relationship didnt no wat was wrong buy this explains

  • http://spiritualGrace Jordan River

    All righty First of All I Am Moveing forward with living I will get to see Natalia Again because I’m working hard with God in over looking all my short commings new old and Future if any body hear actually went to a respectable Church u would know how to handle relationships better because well lets just say join a Congregation and the clean people of God will help. To give u strength to find the Knowledge to fill in the distance between evry step u take.i was raised in the home of our lord and dating wasent allowed unless it was for courtship and Evan turn u would need a shaparown to make shire thires still a respectable distance between a girl and guy so when i was 22 i had found a Awesome group of friends to spend alot of time with but the church probly wouldn’t allow me doing such a reckless way of living so I picked the girls and being able to get a girlfriend and do whatever we wanted to over the safety of a loveing congregation of beleavers and now I’m almost in the same situation as Natalia describes how it goes. So the choice I maid was Love over my life and so during my years of experience thru the sands of time I learanded more and more. So after one summer my friends started droping off due to Recovery and other things we had to do to keep rolling along with Now I’m practically all alone Just me and God Who’s giving me more and more understanding about how to recover and Now I feal the Love See the spirit and recognize more of how to stay strong in these times whare the Growing and healing take place Im very lucky to have a friend who is on the other side struggling with the healing process but I see is already healthyer stonger and more fit to over come the obstacles we all place in front of our self’s I have a strong supporter that knows how to bring me up when I feal left behind and A light to show me the way to a better life free of the Chains of Addiction by the strength and courage it takes to bring about an end to Our Suffering.

  • http://spiritualGrace Jordan River

    LONG LIVE THE PERSUTE OF Happiness and Love Freedom from endless war against Addicts.Keep looking for the keys to unlock your mind to free u from whatever it is that Keeps you from your Dreams.

  • http://spiritualGrace Jordan River

    oh And SAVE your Money!! Some reason that’s all that matters in the end.

  • Pingback: Building Healthy Relationships In Recovery | Cuties Live()

  • Jacqueline Ashley

    Hello i am Jacqueline Ashley ,from USA, I am out here to spreed this good news to the entire world on how i got my ex lover back.I was going crazy when my lover left me for another girl last month,But when i meet a friend that introduce me to Dr Agumagu the great messenger to the oracle that he serve,I narrated my problem to Dr Agumagu about how my ex lover left me and also how i needed to get a job in a very big company.He only said to me that i have come to the right place were i will be getting my heart desire without any side effect.He told me what i need to do,After it was been done,In the next 2 days,My lover called me on the phone and was saying sorry for living me before now and also in the next one week after my lover called me to be pleading for forgiveness,I was called for interview in my desired company were i needed to work as the managing director..I am so happy and overwhelmed that i have to tell this to the entire world to contact Dr Agumagu at the following email address and get all your problem solve..No problem is too big for him to solve..Contact him direct on: or and get your problems solve like is my email address in case you need any question from me

  • Kathy

    I have been in a relationship with a recovering alcoholic for 6 years. 4 years friends/lovers, 2 years committed & living together. 3 relapses within the time frame. He has 36 years with AA. Sober & clean now for over 90 days and has taking his sobriety serious for the first time in his life, for him not anyone else. I’m grateful!! However, if anyone can help me, give some experience strength and hope, I will be super grateful. Sorry, but this will be lengthy, it’s complicated.
    This is my issue: Upon finding his 4th step inventory by accident (not searching, it found me) I read that he “was only keeping me around for his use and afraid to tell me the truth, for fear I would kill myself”. That was a shocker for me to read. Ironically, I was the one out of work for 3 months and he was supporting me. So really how was he using me???LOL! We got passed that with a discussion, he stated that was his honest feelings, funny, b/c I was the one that originally had spouted off to him that I felt he only sees me as someone to fulfill his needs. I regret saying that now and yet I apologized for it and asked for forgiveness, he accepted and forgave me so I thought.
    We had been fighting a lot since the relapse and DUI, I did contribute to his stress due to our living arrangement is not of normal circumstances, a lot of home fixing issues that have been ignored and shown no interest. (do not want to get into that). He now has made the decision that he can only be “FRIENDS” with me and still live together but as roommates, but sleep in the same bed. This really has hurt me and angered me. We were going to AA meetings once a week & then the movies/dinner (our Saturday date night). He goes 7 days a week 2-3 meetings a day and I am extremely happy about his efforts and continued sobriety. I offer encouragement and support. Now I am NOT allowed to go with him to one meeting a week or any meeting for that matter and I enjoyed going. It was time with him and I got understanding of my alcoholic and strength/hope in AA meetings. I am also a grateful Alanon member 2 years this September. I am told to just focus on me and give him time. That’s fine, I get that but he gives mixed messages.
    He has stopped ALL AFFECTION and of course no sexual intimacy at all – none. However, will make me a sandwich before work, used to bring me coffee to the bedside, but I don’t expect any of these things I don’t read into them, I simply appreciate them. Then he recently started reaching out with hugs and a kiss and responding back with “I love you” after I tell him that because I do love him. A Kiss/hug when saying good bye not at bedtime though etc. aaah Friends/roommates do not do that. I thought maybe he was coming around. BUT NO!!!!
    I had a bad day Friday a.m., I attempted to give him a lil affection b4 getting out of bed by just putting my hand around his arm and to just hold him without any demand of him responding. What I got was a total rejection, he squirmed away from me, pulled away and I lost it! I said really, I can’t show you a lil affection? I was told in an angry/hateful tone that I am demanding him to say I love you and demanding him to do this or that. Totally incorrect!!! His mind is dellusional, he is imaging stuff I say or do. He told me that now the hugs/kisses he was giving will not happen again b/c of what happened that a.m. That we can only be friends and that’s it!. He says he loves me & doesn’t want me to leave. I asked what he would do if he were me, he replied he would move on if he was that miserable haha, I’m stuck, no $$$$ or family or anywhere to go. I asked is that what you want me to do, he said no. So really, I am so mixed up and confused and emotionally torn.
    I feel He is being so darn selfish, total discernment for my feelings, needs, etc. I accept and give him all that he wants and what the heck am I getting, that is what is really the egg in my face. I’m the one that has been there for him, bailed him out of jail, always been his friend, supported him, loved him, and now I am being punished for his resentments towards himself. I am now without the love and affection I’m used to receiving and being pushed to the back burner and for how long this will last???? only God knows.
    I feel like his sponsor or AA has told him to do this to me. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for AA they have saved millions of lives and thank God they exist. But what the heck is going on. I feel like I am in a time warp of hell. I am doing all I can. I’m doing my best to live and let live, let go and let God and accept him for who he is. I have not nagged or scolded. I have grown since I joined Alanon. I am in my own recovery. I’ve doubled up on it, by doing a step study with my sponsor in Alanon and at CR at the church. How can I be toxic to this person? how can he just kick me to the curb and forget who I have been to him in his life with me???
    Is this normal in early sobriety or perhaps for someone who finally after 36 years is taking his sobriety serious? I want his sobriety as much as each breath I take, but darn it, I want our relationship back. We have a spiritual bond and he is the most loving guy I ever knew. Never physically abusive or verbally. He understands me and has always accepted me for me. we were always known as the great couple everyone used to ask how do you two do it, you compliment each other your so awesome together. We always said b/c we were friends first. Now he wants to reinvent the wheel of our relationship when I had nothing and never had nothing to do with his drinking. The three “C’s” I didn’t cause it, can’t control it or cure it.
    CAN SOMEONE PLEASE HELP??? I am outreaching here.

  • amanda Kons

    where so many people have been helped,i decided to give him a try to help me bring my lover back home even not for me but just for the kids,the therapist to me what to do within the next 3 days after doing what therapist isaac ask of me, i saw a car drove into the house and behold it was my husband,he have come to me and the kids and that is why i am happy to make anybody is same issue to visit this Therapist isaac via Email and have your lover back to your self.

  • gcalonsag

    Hi april.. I’ve seen that u have posted this 4 yrs ago. Im in a relationship with recovered alco and his 4 yrs sober. He broke up with me a few weeks back but now his trying to get back to me as what he said realizes what stupid mistake he has done. He seemed geniune and was really trying to show his commitment to me..but what worries me if I am making the biggest mistake of my life giving him another chance.. ive been thinking is this worth a shot???

  • Linda Alex

    I was crushed when my lover of three years left to be with another woman. I cried and sobbed every day, until it got so bad that I reached out to the Internet for help. I wasted so much time and effort trying to get her back until I hit on the real thing. And that is you, ultimate spell. You were different from all the rest – you are the diamond in the rough. Thank you from the depths of my soul! I am extremely happy now. I hope God blesses you as much as you have help me to get my Love back, visit him on ( he can be a great help to you all.

  • Tink

    My husband started rehab about 2 months ago within the first week a receptionist at the center he was attending started texting to “check on him”. I told him this was inappropriate but he said she was only trying to be “a friend”. Not even 3 weeks later I was asking questions about a lot of strange phone usage and texting and he refused to let me see saying he was clean. He left that day to stay at his moms and within a few days I realized it was because of a relationship with this whore at his rehab facility. We have been married over 26 years with 3 kids who now won’t even speak to him. He is living with her now and saying he’s moving hundreds of miles away. I am sure this relationship will not last but my heart is broken. I believe he has attached himself to her in search of a new high. I want to keep him from throwing away our marriage and the relationship with his kids.