Tag Archives: 12-step meetings

Early Recovery and Romantic Relationships

early recovery

If you are new to recovery, and have started attending 12-Step meetings, it is likely that you have been bombarded with a lot of information and tips for achieving success in the program. There is very good chance that the people you have met, in the rooms of recovery, cautioned you about people, places and things that could jeopardize your recovery. They have probably warned you about forming romantic relationships within the first year, or until you have worked all the “steps” honestly. As simple as that advice may sound, what you choose to do with that guidance could actually make or break your recovery.

Most people who enter a program of recovery, attempting to turn their life around, have no idea what a healthy relationship is, or what it looks like. Especially since most people with a history of addiction, also have a history of unhealthy relationships. People with substance abuse issues typically gravitate towards others with similar or the same problem. The old saying that ‘misery loves company’ couldn’t be further from the truth. Somebody who drinks or drugs heavily typically doesn’t want to be involved with teetotaler. Perhaps that was your experience?

There are a number of things that can get in the way of your program, especially in early recovery. It could easily be argued that after resentment, relationships take the prize for setting people in recovery on a course to relapse. If you are a young man, clean and sober from drugs and alcohol for the first time, there is a good chance that you have started bubbling with romantic ambition. It would be wise to resist the urge to pursue someone with romantic intention in early recovery. You may be reading this and are saying to yourself, “problem solved, I was in a relationship when I started the journey of living a healthier life.” While that is a valid point, if your partner is still actively using drugs and/or alcohol, it could compromise your program.

Growing Apart in Early Recovery

When you made the choice to pick up the pieces of your life, and embark on a journey of spiritual resurrection, there is a chance that your romantic partner had different plans. He or she may not be ready to admit that they, too, have a problem that needs to be addressed. Or, maybe they do not actually have a substance use disorder and are not in need of treatment or 12-Step meetings. Either way, when one’s partner is “using” while the other is not, it can and often does cause a void in the relationship. It is a schism that can manifest itself in a number of ways.

Having a partner who you once drank or drugged with (who is still using) often has a triggering effect, which could make you want to use again. Naturally, you need to be vigilant in fighting off such urges, and the best way to do that is to invest more of yourself into the program. Recovery is not something that we achieve on our own, we stay the course by forming bonds with a sponsor and a network of peers that you can lean on when times are difficult. Over time you may realize that your romantic relationship is no longer tenable, and that separating is the surest way of protecting the gains you have made in the program.

True Relationships in Early Recovery

If your partner’s continued use is having an impact on you in early recovery, talk to your sponsor and recovery peers. If they advise you to end your relationship for the sake of your recovery, that may be the best course. Your recovery, as you probably have gathered already, must come before anything else. Without your program, you cannot find the gifts of long-term recovery.

In early recovery, your relationship with a “higher power” is the most important, followed by your sponsor and support network. If your partner or spouse is not part of your support network, then she is likely having a countering effect. You have to ask yourself, what is important to you Today? Hopefully, the answer is your recovery.

Addiction Recovery Requires Assistance

addictionThose of you who have ever spent time in 12-Step meeting, such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and/or Narcotics Anonymous (NA), are probably aware that a number of people found their way to addiction recovery via the legal system. Over the last several decades people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or possessing an illegal narcotic are commonly required to attend 12-Step meetings.

From Incarceration to Recovery

While many of the people who are mandated to go to recovery meetings are only doing so to fulfill an obligation, a significant number of people hear something said that resonates and they decide to give recovery a shot. Another group of people with substance abuse disorder find their way on the road of recovery while they are behind bars—serving time for a felony drug conviction. Despite the fact that the recidivism rates for felony drug offenders is nothing short of staggering, there are some who are tired of living in the insidious cycle of addiction and manage to work a program of recovery while incarcerated. It becomes a new way of life which they plan to embrace and continue to work at after their release. Unfortunately, the odds of success outside prison walls are low, partially due to the fact that the options for felony drug offenders are limited. If you are working a program of recovery, it is likely that you are no stranger to the feeling of hopelessness—and you are probably aware that such feelings can lead to relapse. In fact, in many states across the country, those who are released from a penal institution after serving time for a felony drug offense, find that there they are not eligible to state assistance programs. Such benefits do not apply to people with the aforementioned past, yet those same people often require such services more than anyone when you consider the fact that it can be hard for a felon to find work. Without work, being able to afford sustenance is difficult to say the least.

A Second Chance

In recent years, lawmakers have begun to sing a different tune regarding addiction in light of the American opioid epidemic. It seems like that with each day that passes, Americans become more accepting of the idea that addiction is mental health disorder rather than a moral failing. The paradigm shift in thinking has led to changes in mandatory minimum sentencing laws for nonviolent drug offenders; therefore, giving addicts the option of treatment over jail time. Moving away from draconian drug sentencing laws has lead the current White House administration to commute 562 sentences since 2008. The vast majority of those incarcerated were serving time for nonviolent drug offenses, some of which were serving life. But what about those who have already served their time and the felony on their record makes it next to impossible to survive in an above the board manner. Recognizing that drug felons need help upon release if the chance of recidivism is to be mitigated, a number of states have begun let up on restrictions that prohibit such people from receiving state assistance, such as food stamps, PBS NewsHour reports. Thus another move in the fight to change archaic laws that only serve to disenfranchise those whose only crime was that of addiction.
One of the best ways that someone can move on after they’ve been released from prison is their ability to eat and take care of themselves,” said Marissa McCall Dodson of the Southern Center for Human Rights.
In 1996, a federal ban went into effect that prohibited those convicted of felony drug crimes from receiving food stamps and cash assistance, according to the article. You may find it interesting to learn that the ban did not apply to all felons, just drug felons. Fortunately, states have the option of loosening up on such restrictions. And now, there are only seven states that still enforce the full ban on drug felons receiving food stamps. Those states include
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Indiana
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia

Intensive Outpatient Treatment Is An Option

PACE Recovery’s men only rehab and intensive outpatient (IOP) treatment is ideal for men that require additional support with their addiction and/or behavioral health issues. The curriculum is flexible to allow clients to continue their everyday activities, such as work, school, volunteer or family commitments. We understand the importance of helping our clients learn to manage both recovery and life’s obligations.