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Dating a Recovering Addict: Pros, Cons & Precautions To Consider

by John Santana

TRIGGER WARNING: This article or section, or pages it links to, contains information about recovery addiction which may be sensitive to some people. If you are suffering from any addiction or need help recovering, please consider visiting them at Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) or calling them at 1-800-487-4889

It’s no secret that dating a recovering addict is hard. Addiction doesn’t only affect the person but also the people in their lives. You should remember this if you’re thinking about someone as a future partner who happens to be a recovering person or if you’re already in a relationship with a recovering person.

When dating a recovering addict, there are a few things that you’ll need to understand. You will also need to know what you need to support both you and your partner. This article will share everything you need to know about dating a recovering addict.

Life of a Recovering Addict

To give your relationship with a recovering addict the best chance at being a healthy one, you will need to understand what it’s like to live as a recovering addict. Like any relationship, you will need to learn about your partner’s past to build trust.

Struggling with addiction can take its toll on a person. It will take plenty of hard work and patience for someone to overcome their addiction. To build a healthy relationship, you will need to understand what your partner went through.

Many believe addiction is a disease. It’s considered a disease that will impact their lives, bodies and minds leading to some mental health issues. Dealing with addiction is often a lonely and life-altering situation. To overcome addiction, many people will need help from professionals to become sober.

So it’s important to keep these factors in mind when dating a recovering addict. You shouldn’t think of them in a negative aspect. You should also remember that recovering from addiction is probably the most difficult thing they will do in their life.

But just as with any new romantic relationship, you should find out as much as you can about your potential partner. This is especially important when dating a recovering addict.

Life in Recovery

An addict’s recovery only begins when they officially finish the recovery treatment program. You shouldn’t think that your partner’s recovery is over after completing the recovery treatment program.

Addiction recovery is a life-long struggle that needs patience and perseverance. There will be good days and bad days, but their life will be better for it.

During the bad days, you should try to be as supportive as possible and keep their well-being in mind. Your partner will need to keep going to meetings to ensure that they have a supportive environment.

Is it a good idea to date a recovering addict?

Having a romantic relationship with recovering addict might not always be a healthy choice for them. It will depend on where they are in the healing process. It will also depend on other different factors such as:

  • Your life situation
  • What you and your partner expect from the relationship
  • At what stage your partner is in their recovery
  • How you both treat each other during the recovery process

You’ll need to prepare yourself for some things when dating a recovering addict. The first thing to prepare for is that there is a chance that they will relapse in future. Some studies show between 40% and 60% of recovering addicts will relapse.

If your partner relapses, it can be difficult for you to watch. But you should be aware of alcohol or drug addiction signs and symptoms. Knowing the signs will help you prevent a relapse from happening and the challenges that come with it.

When you’re dating a recovering addict, you should be on the lookout for red flags of a relapse. These could include them being deceptive and secretive. If your instincts tell you something is wrong, you should trust your gut and get your partner professional help.

If your partner relapses, it can be unsettling to watch. A relapse can take a toll on their physical and mental health. It will even change who they are as a person. This will make the relationship difficult.

The second thing you need to prepare for is how you view addiction and addicts. In some cases, people will look down their noses at addicts. Some people believe addicts are weak and have no self-control.

If you’re one of these people, then maybe dating a recovering addict will be an extra challenge. It might not be a good idea to date a recovering addict.

When to Start Dating a Recovering Addict?

It can be challenging to know when you can start dating a recovering addict. It’s important to know that the first few months of recovery are the most difficult time in the process. There will be plenty of changes because they will be dealing with emotions, drug cravings and insomnia.

Another difficult part of this stage in recovery is that they will need to learn to feel emotions again, in particular the feeling of love. All these things will make it difficult to date a recovering addict.

If a recovering addict starts dating too soon, there’s a chance they could choose to date someone who is less emotionally mature than them, possibly leading to a toxic relationship.

Risks of Dating too Soon

If a recovering addict starts dating too soon, there’s a chance they could choose to date someone who is less emotionally mature than them, possibly leading to a toxic relationship. There are two main risks to a recovering addict dating too soon.

Choosing Unhealthy Partners

Typically, a person will want a romantic partner with the same emotional maturity level as them. In most cases, a person in the early recovery stages will tend to choose a partner they would have chosen while they were still using drugs or still drinking alcohol.

This partner will typically be a fellow recovering addict who is most likely codependent or abusive at the beginning of the relationship. With female recovering addicts, they will often choose controlling men because they will feel safe. This is a good example of choosing unhealthy partners.

Often this control will become abusive. Because of this, it’s never a good idea for a recovering addict to immediately fall head over heels in a new relationship. As a woman works her way through a recovery treatment, she will typically gain more confidence, and her self-esteem will improve. They will start to like themselves more, which could change the dynamic of the relationship.

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Replacing Drug Addiction With Love Addiction

It takes a full-time commitment to date a recovering addict. It can be a scary experience for them to return to a normal daily routine. If someone starts dating too soon, they risk looking for the comfort they had while they drank or used drugs.  During the early stages of recovery, a person will be at risk of love addiction. In most cases, a recovering addict who develops a romantic relationship during their first of recovery will have a relapse of their drug and alcohol addiction.

There are common signs of dating a recovering addict in the early stages of their recovery.

These signs include the following: 

  • Waiting to be rescued
  • Sharing too much too soon or not sharing their thoughts and feelings at all
  • They try to fix one another.
  • They pressure their partner to enter a relationship
  • They are desperate and believe they can’t live without the other person.

Questions to Ask When Dating Someone in Recovery

Before you start dating a recovering addict, there are a few questions that you’ll need to ask them.

These questions will include the following: 

1. What is Their Dating History?

Not every addiction is about drugs or alcohol. Some people will suffer from love or sex addiction. Because of this factor, you’ll need to ask your potential partner about their dating history.

This question will also give you insight into how their addiction affected their previous relationships. If they’re part of active recovery, you shouldn’t judge them based on their past.

2. How Long Have You Been Sober?

Another important question to ask is, “How long have you been sober?” or “How long have you been in recovery?” This question is essential to ask whether the person has been in recovery for a few months or for 20 years because you need to know where they are in their journey.

3. Are they Enrolled in a Recovery Program?

Another question to ask recovering addicts is if they are enrolled or if they have had professional help for their addiction. You may already know that a professional recovery program is the best way for an addict to recover with less chance of relapsing.  If your partner or someone you want to date hasn’t sought professional help, they should at least be attending meetings with support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous.

If your partner attends AA meetings, it can benefit both of you. In these meetings, the recovering addict will have the support they need from people who understand their experiences. If you’re both recovering addicts, you can attend these meetings together.

4. What Support do they Need from You to Stay Sober?

Every recovering addict is different. They will have different triggers and have different needs for their mental, physical, and emotional well-being.

In some cases, recovering addicts will want their partners to play an active role in their recovery journey. In contrast, some recovering addicts will want to keep that part of their life private at the beginning of the relationship.  So it’s important to ask them what they need from you. It’s important to get a clear idea of what they need from you before you commit to a romantic relationship with them.

Then, you will also need to ask yourself if you’re comfortable with what they need from you. If you have any doubts about being able to support them, you should be honest with yourself and them. If you’re not, it’s best to end the relationship before hurting both of you.

5. Are they Ready for a Committed Relationship?

There’s a reason there are so many films and songs about falling in love. Falling in love can be an amazing experience. This experience causes a rush of serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. But this warm and fuzzy feeling that we get can make it easy to ignore the red flags and personal issues that might pop up.

These good feelings cloud our judgement and are the reason why it’s important to ask recovering addicts if they are ready for a relationship. You should also ask yourself this question.

If someone needs to focus on their healing process, you should give them their space. If you can’t support their process or their decision, you yourself might not be ready for a committed relationship.

Advice for Dating a Recovering Addict


Before you start dating a recovering addict, you will need to take an honest and hard look at yourself. You need to ask yourself what you can and can’t handle. You need to ask yourself questions such as the following:

  • Am I mature enough to date a recovering addict?
  • Do I have what it takes to date a recovering addict?
  • Is my lifestyle suitable for dating a recovering addict?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, you might be ready to start a romantic relationship with a recovering addict.

It’s nice to believe that love conquers all, but it might not be the case when dating a recovering addict. It’s important to remember that no matter how much you love a person, you shouldn’t pursue a relationship with a recovering addict if you can’t handle the situation.

But if you are ready to date a recovering addict, there are still some things you can do to prepare for this relationship.

Learn About Addiction

If you’re not a recovering addict, it can be difficult to understand what your partner is going through in recovery. So it’s important to learn as much as you can about addiction and recovery.

To get as much information as possible, you can visit a local health service office, treatment centre, library, or even search online for information. You can also attend meetings that allow friends and families of addicts in recovery to attend.  These meetings will give you some first-hand insight into what addicts in recovery are going through. You will also learn more about the treatment options available to recovering addicts.

Make their Recovery Your First Priority

It can be scary to date recovering individuals, but it’s important not to let negative stereotypes cloud your judgement. Keep a healthy and realistic attitude about your relationship but ensure that you prioritise their recovery.

For example, you should keep their recovery in mind when you make dates with your partner. If they are in the early stages of the healing process, you should avoid places where drugs and alcohol be found. Maybe an outdoor activity or a movie will be a better date for them.

Avoid Using Substances Around your Partner

You should avoid taking drugs or drinking alcohol around your partner. This is another way you can prioritise their recovery.  For example, if you’re dating a recovering alcoholic, don’t take them to a bar, club, or party. Don’t drink alcohol in front of them.

Don’t Assume the Worst

If you’re dating a recovering addict, there will come a time when you’ll be tempted to jump to conclusions. However, you’ll want to avoid this because it could destroy the trust in a relationship.

For example, if you’re dating a recovering alcoholic and they’re late for a meeting or don’t answer the phone when you call doesn’t mean that they’re getting high or getting drunk at the local bar.

Also, worrying about your partner relapsing will harm your relationship. If you can’t trust your partner, it will ruin your relationship before it even starts.

Set Boundaries

When you’re dating a recovering addict, it’s essential that you set some boundaries for yourself. To do this, you can ask yourself some of the following questions:

  • What will I do if being out in public makes my partner uncomfortable?
  • Do I need to make any changes to my lifestyle to be in this relationship?
  • Is my partner comfortable with me going to a party or bar without them?

Give Yourself Some Self-Care

Like any other relationship, making time for some self-care is essential. Don’t lose track of who you are when you’re dating a recovering addict. This can be damaging to both you and your partner’s health in the future.

Just because you’re dating a recovering addict, it doesn’t mean you have to act like their parent that does everything for them. It’s important to remember that their recovery isn’t only about staying sober but it’s also about leading a fulfilled and happy life. So they need to learn to take care of themselves and have their own life.

Final Thoughts

Dating someone in recovery is more complicated than most relationships and you might feel hesitant to do this. However, all the hard work can be worth it. To give your relationship with a recovering addict the best chance, you will need to keep the advice in this article in mind.

You should keep in mind that perseverance and patience will be key to ensuring smooth sailing in your relationship. Just like any other relationship, honesty will be the best foundation for dating someone in recovery.

As they say, honesty is the best policy for both you and your partner.

John Santana

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