Challenges and Compassion: Dating an Addict in Recovery

Dating an addict in recovery comes with many challenges. You will need patience, compassion, and help to be able to support them adequately. We Level Up California is here to show you that being in a relationship with an addict in recovery doesn’t have to be impossibly difficult.

Dating itself is challenging these days, but dating an addict or being in a relationship with an addict in recovery imposes challenges other couples are not facing. It requires a lot of understanding, empathy, boundary-setting, and communication strategies. Acceptance and support are crucial for both the relationship and the person struggling with addiction.

How dating an addict will look depends on where they are in the process. Behavior, communication, and needs can be different for someone only starting medical detoxification, someone doing inpatient rehab, or someone further in the process. This raises the importance of educating yourself on what to expect when dating a recovering addict. 

Understanding Addiction and Recovery

The American Psychological Association defines addiction as physical and psychological dependence on substances (such as drugs, prescribed medications, or alcohol) or on activities and behaviors (like sex or gambling). It´s a chronic disorder manifested as compulsive behavior despite knowing the negative consequences of exhibiting it. People with substance abuse disorders experience changes in their behavior, and the majority of it becomes substance-related, whether it´s looking for the substance, acquiring it, or using it.

Dating an addict in recovery banner

Typically, people also lose interest in activities they enjoyed before. They start acting more recklessly and neglecting their responsibilities. These changes impact both professional and private life, posing challenges, some of which are related to social relationships, including dating. 

When a person decides to look for help for their addiction, they enter a life-long process of recovery and rehabilitation. Their time at an institution might be limited, but as addiction is chronic, recovery ought to be an ongoing process. 

Get Help. Get Better. Get Your Life Back.

Searching for an Accredited Drug and Alcohol Rehab Centers in Near You?

Even if you have failed previously and relapsed, or are in the middle of a difficult crisis, we stand ready to support you. Our trusted behavioral health specialists will not give up on you. When you feel ready or just want someone to speak to about therapy alternatives to change your life call us. Even if we cannot assist you, we will lead you to wherever you can get support. There is no obligation. Call our hotline today.

FREE Addiction Hotline – Call 24/7

The rehab starts with a tailored detoxification to address the particularities of each case. Usually, it is done as an inpatient program, meaning a person will spend some time in a facility to get proper medical and psychotherapy treatment. Once out of the facility, they might join support groups or continue going to individual or group psychotherapy sessions. Some might use this recovery period to improve themselves and grow their skills with recovery coaching.

Two people on a date representing the challenges of dating an addict in recovery
Dating itself is challenging these days, but dating an addict in recovery brings challenges other couples are not facing.

What to Expect When Dating an Addict

Dating an addict can be emotionally exhausting and pose challenges for both partners. Many behaviors related to substance abuse can damage emerging or existing relationships with a person struggling with addiction

Here are some typical examples of what to expect when dating a recovering addict:

  • Trust issues. Addicts have a tendency to try to hide their addiction, often involving lying about their whereabouts or activities. This secrecy, with time, creates distrust and breaks bonds in relationships. 
  • Financial strains. Keeping an addiction alive is a costly matter. It is not unusual for an addict to spend money behind their partner´s back or even take loans to finance their substance abuse. A person dating an addict might fall victim to a borrowing scheme or experience money loss if the relationship is advanced enough to have a common budget. 
  • Codependency. It is not unusual for a person to sacrifice their needs when dating an addict. You might find excuses for their behavior or even accidentally enable it. 
Ryan Zofay forming a circle and hugging friends.

Get Your Life Back

Find Hope & Recovery. Get Safe Comfortable Detox, Addiction Rehab & Dual Diagnosis High-Quality Care.

Hotline (855) 695-1160

Although less challenging, changes in behavior can still take a toll on relationships. For some, socializing might become an issue as it exposes them to substances they used to use. There is a risk of relapse, resulting in stress for both partners. Partner´s availability might change, and they might want to isolate for a while. This is a period when they are rediscovering themselves, and some programs encourage being single for a while. This can end some relationships. 

No matter what stage of recovery a person is in, the whole process of recovery will impact both partners. Feelings like anger, frustration, and sadness are likely to happen at some point, and both sides may feel isolated and alone. 

Strategies could be put in place to fight these issues. It´s important to set boundaries and stick to them to protect yourself and your partner. Communication ought to be clear and effective but also compassionate and empathic.

A couple holding hands symbolizing support needed when dating a recovering addict.
Being in a relationship with an addict in recovery requires understanding and support.

How to Support Your Partner in Recovery

Being in a relationship with an addict in recovery means helping out and supporting rehabilitation. However, many, in their efforts to help, actually end up enabling recovering addicts. Enabling means passively allowing or unwillingly encouraging maladaptive behavior. It might be as simple as allowing a drink to take the edge off or going to a party with the idea of socializing, only to end up exposing the addict to recreational drugs. 

First-class Facilities & Amenities

World-class High-Quality Addiction & Mental Health Rehabilitation Treatment

Rehab Centers Tour

Renowned California Addiction Center. Serene Private Facilities. Inpatient rehab programs vary.

Addiction Helpline (855) 695-1160

Proven recovery success experience, backed by a Team w/ History of:


Years of Unified Experience


5-Star Reviews Across Our Centers


Recovery Success Stories Across Our Network

  • Low Patient to Therapist Ratio
  • Onsite Medical Detox Center
  • Comprehensive Dual-Diagnosis Treatment
  • Complimentary Family & Alumni Programs
  • Coaching, Recovery & Personal Development Events

Here are a few things you can do when dating a recovering addict to help and support them:

  • Encourage participation in recovery programs. Rehabilitation does not end when a person leaves the facility in charge of their recovery. It is an ongoing process of re-establishing oneself, regaining control over one’s life, and imagining and working towards a better future. All of this is easier with professional support, and making a recovering addict feel it is okay to seek help makes them more likely to do so. 
  • Set boundaries. Agree on rules regarding accommodation, finances, plans, and the future. Make sure they are realistic and that both sides adhere to what they agreed upon. Establish consequences for situations when boundaries are disrespected. 
  • Suggest alternatives for socializing. Meeting other people, going to parties, or celebrating milestones can be especially challenging when being in a relationship with an addict in recovery. Socializing and celebrations very often imply the presence of various substances that can be triggering for someone going through a recovery. It is not necessarily a call for relapse; a person might feel estranged and excluded. To help your partner, consider alternatives like sober parties, going out for coffee, or doing activities rather than just going out.  
  • Talk about each other´s needs. To work on (re)building trust and establishing a healthy relationship dynamic, openly communicate needs, desires, frustrations, and struggles. Only with open communication can both voices be heard, and a solid base for working on potential future problems can be established. 

Do not forget about yourself in the process. Think of your needs and your own support system. Being a helper and supporter can be exhausting, so make sure you feel taken care of as well.

When Professional Help Is Needed

There is always a danger of relapsing with former addicts, and a person should be aware of that when dating a recovering addict. Even when strategies are put in place and support is provided, your partner might need additional assistance or help if experiencing a crisis. They might not be open to admitting it, so keep an eye on their behavior. If it starts changing, there are mood swings, or they become secretive, have an honest conversation about it, and if your doubts are true, seek professional help.

World-class, Accredited, 5-Star Reviewed, Effective Addiction & Mental Health Programs. Complete Behavioral Health Inpatient Rehab, Detox plus Co-occuring Disorders Therapy.

CALL (855) 695-1160

End the Addiction Pain. End the Emotional Rollercoaster. Get Your Life Back. Start Drug, Alcohol & Dual Diagnosis Mental Health Treatment Now. Get Free No-obligation Guidance by Substance Abuse Specialists Who Understand Addiction & Mental Health Recovery & Know How to Help.

If you want to aid your partner but feel uncertain about where to start, here are a few resources that can help you out:

  • Benzo addiction treatment in California – If your partner used to struggle with misuse of a prescription medicine called benzodiazepine, specialized treatment for benzo abuse is the right choice. It is also important for you to learn about the signs of benzo addiction and withdrawal symptoms.
  • Prescription drug rehab in California – If your partner was prescribed a medication but is now struggling to wean off the drug, prescription drug rehab is the right place to be. At We Level Up California, we offer specialized treatment approaches for every prescription medication. Don’t hesitate to contact us. We will make sure you understand all about the symptoms you need to look out for and suggest different treatment modalities.
  • Opiate rehab in California – The We Level Up CA team can also teach you about opioids, symptoms of addiction to them, and signs of overdose. A person can survive an opioid overdose, so be sure to learn how to help if it ever comes to that. 

While recognizing signs of a problem is necessary, addressing it is crucial. Seeking professional help is the best way to go. In cases of relapse, and in order to reduce the chances of it happening again, inpatient drug rehab California would be a solution you can rely on. It is crafted for individual circumstances and needs and provides 24/7 care, reducing the discomfort of the detoxification process.

To ease the recovery process, you can explore different insurance options for addiction treatment. For instance, California drug rehab insurance Aetna can be of help. It covers substance abuse disorder treatments fully or partially. With it, the financial strain of addressing a loved one´s recovery is bearable, and with We Level Up California, you need not worry about the quality of services.

A professional explaining what to expect when dating a recovering addict.
A professional can explain what to expect when dating a recovering addict.

A Few Final Thoughts on Dating an Addict in Recovery

Not many things can prepare a person for dating an addict. It comes with many challenges, often followed by negative emotions and frustration. However, behind every addict, there is a person worth fighting for. Showing compassion and understanding when being in a relationship with an addict in recovery might be emotionally costly. Still, with some help in your corner, you can end up having a fulfilled relationship despite less-than-ideal circumstances. 

We Level Up California is here to provide help when needed, whether with information and advice or a carefully tailored program for your partner´s recovery. We are here to support you and ensure your and your partner’s life satisfaction.

Experience Transformative Recovery at the We Level Up California Treatment Center.

See our authentic success stories. Get inspired. Get the help you deserve.

We Level Up Treatment Centers for Drug Alcohol Rehab Detox Behavioral Mental Health Dual Diagnosis Therapy We Level Up Treatment Centers for Drug Alcohol Rehab Detox Behavioral Mental Health Dual Diagnosis Therapy We Level Up Treatment Centers for Drug Alcohol Rehab Detox Behavioral Mental Health Dual Diagnosis Therapy
Hotline (855) 695-1160
Voluntarily testimonials from the We Level Up Treatment Center network vary. Not intended as a guaranteed treatment or outcome as each person's journey is unique.

Start a New Life

Begin with a free call to an addiction & behavioral health treatment advisor. Learn more about our dual-diagnosis programs. The We Level Up treatment center network delivers recovery programs that vary by each treatment facility. Call to learn more.

  • Personalized Care
  • Caring Accountable Staff
  • World-class Amenities
  • Licensed & Accredited
  • Renowned w/ 100s 5-Star Reviews

We’ll Call You


American Psychological Association. “Substance Use, Abuse, and Addiction.”, 2021,

Search We Level Up for Dating an Addict in Recovery Topics & Resources