It can be extremely tempting to indulge in the romantic side of life while going through addiction treatment, especially if you are a single person. After all, being drug free is opening up an opportunity to start a new life, and most people envision a happy life as something that involves true love. Although being part of a couple is a reasonable desire, it may not be the best thing to get involved in while you are in recovery.
The road to recovery from addiction can be a challenging and demanding process. A person going through rehab may not have enough time to devote to a partner, especially since he or she has so much inner work to do. And in some cases, a romantic partner could be more distracting than helpful, and that potential interference creates a risk for both parties.
Mixing recovery and romance is taking on a huge responsibility. For the recovering individual, it can make it difficult to balance time and attention between the partner and the recovery process. For the partner, being in a relationship with someone in recovery can be a challenge for a variety of reasons. If it doesn’t go the way either party wants it to, the relationship can end in heartbreak and possibly encourage a relapse.
The Connection Between Breakups, Substances, and Temptation
A breakup could result in you feeling a lack of control in your life. In fact, most people who have battled with substance use started the cycle of using because it gave them a sense of control. In a way, the substances were the one thing they could take charge of in their life. With that being said, it makes sense that a breakup is something that can cause someone to relapse due to wanting a feeling of being in control of his or her life.
One of the best ways to avoid relapsing after a breakup is to recognize what risks lie in the situation and to do your best to reduce those risks. Even if you try to map out your entire relationship, there is no true way to control every aspect of the partnership in order to avoid a breakup.
Acknowledge How Difficult the Situation May Be
Breakups are often considered one of the most difficult parts of life. In a way, it is similar to experiencing a loss or a failure to overcome a huge goal in life. Breakups can take a serious toll on the mind and spirit, regardless of how strong and mentally adept a person may be.
Because this is a harsh reality that we all have to risk facing, it is best to avoid trying to minimize the impact of the heartbreak and to be aware of how it might trigger a desire to relapse. Allow yourself to experience feelings throughout the heartbreak, and grieve while not forgetting to love yourself and to avoid addictive behavior, especially since most substance users seek to use substances as a way to block out bothersome and painful thoughts.
Breakups end differently for every couple. If you feel that your physical safety or intellectual safety is at risk, take the necessary steps to care for yourself. Recognize the triggers that cause feelings of sadness or depression. Don’t isolate yourself, but avoid using social media or surrounding yourself with people who may trigger these feelings or situations. If you do go out with friends, avoid environments where you used or visiting places where you know you might fall into the temptation to relapse or to contact the person you broke up with.
Know That This Is the Perfect Time to Seek Help
Times like these are the best times to reach out and to connect with those in your support network. If you are in a program, connect with your sponsor, and make sure that you try to attend as many meetings as you can so that you can better navigate the breakup. Don’t hesitate to reach out to family and friends for support as long as they can empathize with the fact that you are in recovery. A good support system is one that doesn’t raise the risk for relapse.
If you find that the support system you have with family and friends is weak, you could also seek help from an individual counselor. Even if you aren’t able to rely on family and friends to support you, there are always professional people in the network who care about your growth and progression.
Tips for Getting Through a Break Up Day-to-Day
- Understand That Expression Is OK: One of the most important things to remember is it is perfectly fine to grieve and to feel through the breakup process. In fact, refusing to release those emotions can do more harm than good. When you hold emotions in, they tend to build up and fester until they explode out in an outburst. Releasing emotions doesn’t mean you have to cry or be stuck in a loop of despair, but it is important to allow yourself to do just that if you feel that’s what your body wants you to do.
- Explore Old and New Hobbies: Sometimes, the best way to handle deep times is to indulge in a healthy activity that brings you joy. Take some time out to indulge in your favorite hobbies. If you don’t have any or if none of your hobbies interests you enough right now, take time to explore different hobbies, such as trying out different forms of art or exercise, until you find one that suits you and your lifestyle.
- Tell Your Story: It never hurts to connect with others online or in person, especially those who are going through the same experience or who have gone through it in the past. Talking the situation and the feelings out with others in the same boat can sort of add meaning to what you experienced. This includes the occurrences of the relationship and the breakup and also the healing and recovery process that followed.
If you’re telling your story and looking back at the breakup in a negative manner, it will put a strain on how you operate in your present life. Try not to view it as a rejection or a lost opportunity at true love; otherwise, it will be harder to recover from the breakup and to remain optimistic about the future. Once you let the feelings of rejection in, it can be easy to trap yourself in this narrative.
Once you talk with others that have been down the same path, you’ll learn that other people can relate to the same emotions and thought processes that you have concerning the breakup. At that point, you’ll understand that you’re not alone and that these feelings have a sense of normalcy. Try to look back at the experience as more of a lesson than a rejection.
- Spend Some Time at Home: Your house protects not only your body but also your mind and spirit. It is a place where you should be able to be your true self and to live in your true form without the worry of judgment or discomfort. Home can be anywhere, whether it is the rehab facility or the place where you pay rent. Either way, it can be a great first step in recovering from a breakup because at home you should be able to connect with people that you trust and feel supported by.
Many people find that calling home is a great way to get a witness to their grief when they are going through the troubles of life. That way, you can acknowledge the feelings and validate them. Home is wonderful for this reason since it acts as an escape from the harsh and cold world.
Since the home protects the mind and body, it is a good idea to take some time to reinvent your environment. The people in your support system are there to ensure that you are protected and supported, even in the darkest times, to ensure that you are safe and healthy. You can do your part in that process by making sure that the place you call home is set up to raise your mood and to keep you set on your goals.
Try switching up the decor in the area or adding to it to make your home base more lively and personal. If you find dark colors enjoyable, buy a new comforter or a nice pair of curtains in your preferred shade. You could buy some plants or invest in a goldfish to bring life into your home. Adding an easy-to-care-for pet would give you a sense of simple responsibility and would make the area feel more occupied, even during alone time.
- Avoid Jumping From One Situation to the Next: Most people jump from one relationship to the next to make getting over the last person easier. Beginning something new is usually used as more of a distraction instead of a healthy way to avoid sinking into despair over a breakup. Some distractions can be good ones, but this method will only be a disservice to you and the other person involved because it only encourages you to neglect your needs.
Try to think about relationships as the human breath. No human being is able to inhale and exhale at the same time. It is in our nature to have space in between each breath. The same idea can be applied to relationships. A healthy recovery is going to be much easier if you take time to breathe and to be mindful of yourself and your actions before you try it again. Being whole and healed will not only help you recover but will also prepare you for your next run.
A lot of people jump in and out of relationships so quickly because they don’t want to catch themselves in that empty void. Most of them would rather avoid being alone. But this space in-between relationships is a space where you can let the pain breathe and take the time to learn from what happened, so you don’t make the same mistake again.
See this as a time to reflect on your actions and to transform those pieces of yourself, so the new love that you give to a new person comes from a positive place. Always remember that whatever difficult time you’re going through won’t last forever. Naturally, an exhale will always come after an inhale.
What this essentially means is you have to remind yourself that you’re not going to miss out on romance if you take some time to love yourself and remake the parts of yourself that you believe need re-creating. People will always exist, and that means there will always be an opportunity to start something new with someone else.
- Use It as an Opportunity to Reinvent Yourself: Most people overlook the idea that exes are sort of like professors in the way that they teach people about themselves. Every relationship and friendship is an opportunity to study and to observe yourself and the way that you operate with other people. All of your interactions have something that can be used as a lesson, no matter if it was toxic or beautiful.
One thing you can do is observe and study the eight dimensions of wellness. There are the physical, intellectual, emotional, financial, spiritual, social, environmental, and occupational dimensions. Studying these areas of your life will make room for you to focus on yourself and rebuild. This doesn’t have to apply to just the breakup, but also the life you live as someone who is recovering from addiction.
- Create Goals You Can Look Forward To: Sometimes, the best thing that makes life good is when you have something that you can look forward to. Having something you want to work towards gives you motivation and hope, and it usually inspires people to do better and to be better so they can achieve their goals. Keeping yourself focused on a positive goal will keep you excited and rooted in anticipation, and you will always want to propel forward. The goal can be something small, like a day trip, or it can be as big as visiting a secret library in a foreign country.
Try sitting down and asking yourself, “Who do I want to be, what do I want to do, and what can I do every day to achieve that?” Or, you can just think about something positive that brings you joy and happiness, even during the lowest times. Imagine that happy and content version of yourself. Do you feel proud of yourself?
If you are, record that feeling in your mind, and use that as a source of motivation as you navigate your way through the breakup. To help keep yourself afloat and to avoid relapsing, envision your future self with a healthy mind, body, and spirit that is not suffering from the dangerous side effects of substance abuse, like lung disease and irreversible effects on the brain.
Once you have your goals set out, don’t forget to share them with positive people in your support system and community. Many people share their goals with others so that they can be held accountable for them and remain inspired to achieve them.
Treatment at Granite Recovery Centers
The community at the Granite Recovery Center is more than familiar with helping people deal with a breakup while trying to recover. Since the situation is so common, it is important for you to know that you are not alone and that there are people in our facility who have dealt with this situation many times. For over 10 years, our center has helped transform the lives of adults from all walks of life that have gone through a variety of situations, and we can do the same for you.