FILE PHOTO: couple, dating. Photo by Nong on Unsplash

CONTRIBUTED – When overcoming drug or alcohol abuse and entering recovery, there becomes a streamlined focus on remaining sober. Yet, there does come a time when there is an urge to pursue romantic relationships; Valentine’s Day has a way of sparking interest.

While there are risks and benefits to being in a relationship while in recovery, it’s crucial to never lose sight of your sobriety goals.

Generally, most health professionals recommend that people in early recovery from substance abuse wait about one year before pursuing a new relationship. Every recovering addict knows the risk of relapse. Today, there are greater threats because of opioids like fentanyl; accidental overdose is a common occurrence. Utah is particularly affected by prescription opioids, which are responsible for 38% of the unintentional and undetermined drug poisoning deaths in the state.

Initially, you’ll want to assess your personal readiness for dating in sobriety. This may involve some self-reflection about whether you want to pursue relationships or not. Looking inward helps you determine your emotional stability and self-awareness to begin a healthy relationship.

Moreover, you will want to evaluate your motives for dating. This will ensure they align with a genuine connection you are seeking and not simply fill a void.

Before entering the dating world, it’s a good idea to be confident in your sobriety, have a strong support network, and even a relapse prevention plan.

If you are dating and in a relationship, set clear boundaries and communicate your sobriety and preferences openly when you feel comfortable. This could be done at any stage, but generally based on your comfort level with the person you are engaging with.

It’s generally wise to go alcohol-free or choose mocktails or alcohol-free drinks. Usually, you can locate alcohol-free establishments or places that do not promote excessive alcohol use.

Use your support system or consider sober dating apps, which are plentiful in today’s tech age. There are generally numerous sober communities you can lean on and meet like-minded people.

Finally, prioritize your self-care and do not lose focus on your sobriety. As cliché as this sounds, there is someone for everybody. Remember, the right partner will respect your commitment to sobriety.

Do not let Valentine’s Day bring you down for any reason, and don’t feel obligated to pursue relationships to fill a void. Everything happens in time, which means there is ample opportunity to pursue meaningful friendships and better relationships with family.

Jody Boulay

Jody Boulay is a mother of two with a passion for helping others. She currently works as a Community Outreach Coordinator for DRS to help spread awareness of the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

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