The Reality of Dating Someone in Recovery

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When someone is in recovery from an addiction to drugs or alcohol, it can mean different things. The general idea of recovery is that the person isn’t in active addiction and is not currently using drugs and alcohol.

Recovery, especially in the early stages, can be challenging and time-consuming. The person experiencing it will have to put all of their focus and mental energy into their recovery.

So what does that mean for dating someone in recovery for a substance use disorder?

If you’ve met someone in recovery and you see them as a possible romantic partner, there are some things you’re going to have to think carefully about. It’s not an easy road, but you can make it work and have a happy relationship if you understand the situation. 

Understanding Recovery

Before you date someone in recovery or when you’re in the early stages of forming a relationship, it’s helpful to learn as much as you can about what this process is like for them.

  • First, recovery is something ongoing and progressive throughout a person’s life. 
  • Alcohol or drug addiction are chronic diseases. 
  • As is true of other chronic diseases like diabetes or heart disease, it’s not necessarily possible to cure addiction. Instead, you can treat and manage the symptoms.
  • When someone describes themselves as being in recovery, it’s an admission on their part that they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. 
  • Relapse is always a possibility, but the goal is to avoid that.
  • At one time, recovery was something seen as being associated with 12-step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. Now, however, it’s expanded to mean much more. Recovery is a way of life.

Being in addiction recovery is often described as a process of change. When someone is in recovery, their goal isn’t just to remain substance-free. 

  • They’re also improving their health and wellness and reaching their potential. 
  • For many people who are in recovery, it’s a second chance at life.
  • When someone is in active addiction, they often get to the point where they aren’t a functional member of society. They may have legal problems leading to a criminal record, be unable to have a job, and not have stable housing. 
  • Someone in active addiction will give up social activities and their interpersonal relationships. 
  • Eventually, their daily lives are completely ruled by their addiction. Those things tend to happen in the severe stages of addiction, and without treatment, most addicts will get to that point without treatment.
  • In recovery, the objective is once again to re-enter society as a productive, contributing member. Their substance use no longer controls someone in recovery.

As you might imagine, this is a big undertaking.

People are often discouraged from getting into new romantic relationships in the early days on the road to recovery. If someone is further along in their recovery, they can get to a point where they might be more interested in dating and the positive effects of love and what that can mean in their life.

What’s It Really Like Dating Someone In Recovery?

Some things to know about dating someone in recovery include:

  • You may have to make changes in how you do things to help them be successful. For example, if you drink or use drugs casually or have similar social behavior, you may not be able to do that if you’re in a long term relationship with a recovering addict. Some people in recovery are okay with this, but it can be triggering for others, and you have to consider what this might mean for you in the role of a supportive partner. 
  • Someone with a history of substance abuse may have a personality that’s prone to addictions in general. Keep this in mind because love addiction can be a real thing. Especially if someone is early in their recovery, they might use your relationship as a way to replace another addiction to drugs or alcohol.
  • Recovery should always come first, and that’s normal. When recovery is a priority for someone, it can be time-consuming, but it’s important. Things can shift over time, but early on, recovery has to be the top priority. You need to be ready for this.
  • Relapse in recovery isn’t inevitable, but it can and does happen. What would you do, and how would you handle it if your partner went through a relapse? Some people in recovery relapse several times before they become firmly grounded in their recovery.
  • Could you be okay with the recovery lifestyle? The recovery lifestyle is about finding ways to enjoy the company of friends and family without substances.
  • If you date someone in recovery and they’re intoxicated by the newness and the intimacy, how will they handle problems when the honeymoon phase is over? It can take a lot of work for a person in recovery to get to a point where they can maintain stable relationships, so is the person ready for this? Is there the potential it could turn into a codependent relationship rather than a healthy one?

Along with thinking about the other person and their role in the relationship, you have to think about how it could affect your mental health. 

For example, would you feel responsible if the other person relapsed? You wouldn’t be in any way, but if you think you’re someone who could harbor that sense of self-blame, it might not be the right relationship for you.

On the other hand, if you’re also in recovery, there can be many benefits to dating someone in a similar situation. You have the same goals, and you can hold one another accountable.

Should You Feel Bad For Not Dating Someone in Recovery?

You have to be honest with yourself and what you want, just like the person in recovery has to do the same. If you’re considering a romantic relationship with someone in recovery and you don’t think it’s right for you, there’s nothing wrong with that.

There are certain complications and challenges, and feeling concerned is normal.

If you do have to tell that person that it’s not right for you, remember they may be in a fragile place. Let them know that you don’t feel comfortable dating a sober person or someone in recovery.

What Else Should You Know?

If you’ve given it thought and you believe that you can be in a relationship with someone who’s in recovery, have an open conversation with them. Ask them more about their sobriety, what type of treatment they received and how long they’ve been in recovery.

You should directly ask what they think they’ll need from you to support their recovery and make sure you’re able to do those things, which many people aren’t.


If you enter into a new relationship, take it slow. You aren’t trying to fix the person, and you need to maintain boundaries that feel good for you. Taking care of yourself and your needs will be integral, particularly in a more complex and healthy, loving relationship. 

If you’re interested in learning more or looking to get into recovery yourself, contact the team at Silver Lining Recovery by calling 833-847-6984. We have all the resources you need to lead a happy life free from addiction.