Successful Relationships After Rehab Start With Hard Work and Self Care

Couple, addict in recovery

You’ve met someone and you think he or she might be “the one,” or you want to get to know them better. You find out early on that they are in recovery and just recently finished rehab. Should you get romantically involved? Or maybe, you’re resuming a relationship with someone who has just come back from rehab. If you’ve never been in recovery yourself, you may have some questions about a potential future relationship with someone who is in recovery. While each person is different, and there’s no pat advice to give to everyone, we’d like to share some information from our experience of working with those who are overcoming drug or alcohol addiction.

Dealing with addiction is hard, and it can be a hard road back. For someone who is early in their recovery, they are learning how to deal with life without resorting to drugs or alcohol as a solution. If they completed a good rehab program, they will have learned tools and skills to deal with life’s problems and will have the support of the aftercare team from the rehab as they find their way in their new sober life. For someone new to recovery and still navigating obstacles to get back on their feet, starting a relationship is not advised.

Happy and long-lasting relationships are built from two stable individuals that are secure in their own identity, and together, progressing toward mutual goals, they will make a stable happy couple. While it’s true that everyone needs love and relationships, someone who has just completed rehab needs to focus on their energy and attention on themselves, and on applying the skills learned in treatment to create a stable sober lifestyle. That must be their first priority, rather than handling the day-to-day stresses of being in a relationship or looking for love. It would be best to support them as a friend and helping them to maintain their newfound sobriety.

Some of the obstacles in early recovery make successful relationships rare, and unadvisable. For those already in a relationship, these factors are no less daunting but must be considered when continuing a relationship.

  • They will have to repair a lot of burned bridges. Addicts tend to lose the support of family and friends after several failed attempts to help them with their addiction. Most of all they lose self-respect. While rehab provides the individual tools to regain thier self-respect, the work must be done after leaving rehab. The process of regaining trust with family members, rejoining society and rehabilitating one’s self-respect can take quite some time. Relationships are unlikely to flourish until this has been completed.
  • Starting off a new drug-free life isn’t easy, but the added support and daily interaction with staff provide firm support and safety. While in rehab, an addict can learn a lot about themselves, and learn tools to help them confront people that don’t mean them well and to repair relationships that are meaningful to them. This doesn’t mean that addiction is “cured.” Life, as we know, has tons of ups and downs and the real challenge begins once a person leaves rehab and the training wheels are off.
  • Some days will be harder than others. It’s essential that individuals in recovery surround themselves with supportive family and friends and keep in touch with the center that helped them.

Before starting a relationship with someone in recovery, it’s important to know where they are in their journey in their sobriety. The first weeks and months out of treatment are going to be the most difficult. As they get more “clean time” under their belt and more experience handling life sober, a person in recovery may cautiously begin to explore new relationships.

We all need loving relationships and, of course, we have the right to create or rebuild relationships as part of a full and rewarding life. However, building an environment and lifestyle that will support long-term sobriety is a strenuous process, and timing plays a critical role in this decision. If you are in a relationship with someone new in recovery the best thing you can do is be caring and supportive of their recovery. They will have good days and bad days, most importantly they must learn to deal with life on their own, your relationship has to come second to their recovery.


Fabian Padro

Narconon Ojai, the premier Narconon center in the United States, is led by Fabian Padro, AS, RADT. After starting a career in International Business and earning an Associates Degree, Fabian changed course and has now dedicated his life to helping those trapped in the downward spiral of addiction.