Interpersonal relationships are hard work, no matter the circumstances. Dating an addict or alcoholic certainly brings its own set of worries, but like all challenges, they are more manageable when you have the right tools and a good support system in place.
Whether you’re already in a relationship with someone who struggles with addiction or only considering dating someone in recovery, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the pitfalls of addiction. Even addicts who are solid in their sobriety might relapse; long-term recovery is often hard work, and your partner will have to be aware of and work to mitigate any triggers in their lives.
As a conscientious partner, this means that you will also need to be cognizant of their triggers and any other underlying social or mental health issues. But keep in mind, no matter how much you want to help, sobriety is their job, not yours.
Develop a Support System
Aside from knowledge, the most important tool to help a partner cope with addiction or be successful in recovery is developing your own support system. Supporting a partner is impossible if you don’t foster your own mental health and well-being. And people whose partners relapse or are resistant to getting treatment are significantly more likely to suffer from depression or a condition known as chronic sorrow, so groups like Al-Anon and Nar-Anon, as well as regular therapy sessions, are an important part of navigating relationships with addicts. Romantic relationships have complex interpersonal dynamics, which often benefit from assistance from professionals. Behavioral couples therapy is also particularly helpful if an intimate relationship predates recovery as a lot of emotional work will need to be done to repair broken trust and for both parties to adjust to new patterns of behavior.
Healing takes time, for both the individuals entering into addiction treatment and recovery and the relationship. Even when it’s less convenient, addicts in recovery need to take time to go to meetings, therapy sessions, and to spend time sponsoring or talking with other addicts.
With this knowledge, a nurturing outlook and coping techniques at your disposal, dating an alcoholic or addict should be more than manageable.