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Because of the enormous emotional transition occurring during drug treatment, the temptations towards romantic involvements are high, but the costs to recovery are equally high.

Why are romantic relationships so tempting during drug treatment?

Recovering addicts enjoying the companionship and support of a group of people who understand and empathize with the pains and trials of recovery often form lasting bonds and friendships. Although the bonds of friendship can assist in the recovery process, the bonds of romance or sexual relationships turn our attention outwards, away from the focused internal healing that needs to occur.

Because many drug and alcohol abusers have experienced a lessening of sexuality due to the effects of substance abuse, the initial period of recovery, and with recovery a restoration of normal sexuality and desires, can create strong infatuations and romantic feelings for others in the facility.

Additionally, because fellow recovering addicts really understand the pains and heartaches of addiction and share the journey of recovery; many recovering addicts feel spiritual connections of understanding and support that can be interpreted as love or sexual attraction. Whether this initial attraction is real or not makes little difference, as during recovery, these relationships are uniquely damaging and reduce the probability of long term success and sobriety.

What are the dangers of romantic relationships?

Although peer support relationships, relationship strengthening with family, and even professional relationships with therapists and addictions professionals are all beneficial to the process of recovery, romantic and sometimes volatile sexual relationships are rarely helpful.

Firstly, the dangers of STD's are elevated within populations recovering from substance abuse and having often engaged in risky drug or sexual behaviors while using. The last thing a recovering addict needs to complicate their recovery is the addition of a new and destructive ailment.

Secondly, when we get involved in a romantic relationship, there is an inevitable desire to present ourselves in a positive light to the other party. While this presentation is generally harmless, during the healing and introspective days of rehab, when honest and full participation in group and other therapies can make the difference between success and failure, failing to reveal our ugly truths can be very harmful.

Thirdly, rehab is an internal and personal process; and healing towards addiction recovery needs to come from within after great introspection and personal honesty. This process of introspective and meditative healing cannot be assisted when our focus turns outwards to infatuation with another person. Any distraction in drug treatment negatively affects the recovery process, and even a distraction that may feel compelling and right, is ultimately destructive to recovery.

Relationships in drug treatment

Drug treatment facilities actively monitor the interactions of participants in a program, and are aware of the frequent temptations towards romantic feelings and the negative implications of enacted sexual relationships. Addictions professionals working within drug treatment facilities do not police relationships as a matter of prudishness, but out of concern for the recovery process of each and every recovering addict.

The strengthening of family and peer support relationships assists the addict when once again immersed in the environment of temptation, but romantic relationships have no place during a period of introspective rehabilitation, and as tempting as they may seem, they are never a wise idea.

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Page last updated Oct 29, 2012

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