When we are born, we are dependent on others to survive. It’s not only for the sake of food and safety but also as we need to look up to somebody to teach us social behavior and to feel bonded.
Throughout our childhood, we learn to communicate, to understand society and various relations between its members.
As humans, we came a long way since the times when we were hunters and gatherers. We don’t need our tribe, to secure regular meals or build shelters, anymore. What we need these days mainly is support, understanding, and the opportunity to connect on a deeper level, and we usually call it a healthy relationship.
Have you ever wondered why something as natural and beautiful as emotional relations are, often can be difficult and complicated, at the same time? It’s normal to run into problems, according to relationship experts. What we need to learn is how to fix them. First, it’s not easy to open to others and show your vulnerability. Second, you need good communication skills and knowledge of conflict management. Let’s not forget to always have realistic expectations, to never take anything for granted and to keep the romance alive.
As we only scratched the surface on the subject of romantic involvement, let’s now focus on a man who just finished the process of recovery from addiction. As Tammy L. Anderson, Ph.D., specified in her “Drug Use and Gender” study, the gender approach to the subject of substance or alcohol abuse is a relatively new way. Until the 1980s, most researchers based their work on the male standards, for both male and female addicts. Comparative studies revealed that the percentage of male addiction (check rehab for men: men-only addiction treatment centers) is much higher than with females, for several reasons. Males start using substances and drink alcohol at a younger age than females, they repeat the use more often, and in larger amounts. The results from the surveys, conducted in the first two decades of the 21st century, confirmed these findings.
The rehabilitation process is long, exhausting, and unfortunately, it’s a life long commitment. The most important decision and, probably, the toughest one is to begin. The second step, to seek help in a men-only rehabilitation center or any other specialized facility, could be equally difficult. Throughout recovery, an addict has to cope with detoxication, adjustments to new life routines, and all kinds of changes to maintain the sobriety. Relapses can happen, especially within the first six months after the rehabilitation. During the rehab, men, as well as women, are sensitive and uncertain, and they need professional help, support, and understanding.
Completing rehabilitation is a great accomplishment. However, it’s just a part of the process. New life is full of possibilities and challenges. For example, you just finished your alcohol rehab for men, and you should start socializing again. But, as you changed your drinking habits, going into the bars and other familiar places is not an option, and you are still not confident enough to contact your old friends. It’s just one of many occasions when a man can feel lonely and desperate. In this situation, finding an emotional partner could look like an excellent solution. But, there is a good reason why it could be a source of problems and even a reason for relapse.
Addiction is a brain disease, a condition manifested by the compulsive use of substance or alcohol, despite the consequences. Changes in the addict’s brain lead to cravings for the substance and repetition in use. The areas of the brain that suffer the most relate to decisions, judgment, memory, and behavior.
Romantic relationships can trigger the sensations, in the brain, similar to ones caused by the drugs. For that reason, men’s rehabilitation counselors will advise the addict to wait for at least a year, with emotional bonding. The first twelve months of the recovery should be dedicated to new habits, a healthy life, and mental and emotional strength empowerment.
As we already established, relationships are like bumpy roads. Things can look great and promising one moment, and then change and suddenly become chaotic. During long-term recovery, people need stability and balance. Emotions are more like a rollercoaster, everything but order and permanence. Behaviors can change and fluctuate from ecstatic impulsiveness and carelessness to sadness and anxiety. For a person, already under a lot of pressure, this can be a lot to take.
Even after the first year of recovery, starting a new relationship can still be tricky. People with addiction problems can choose to exclude themselves from society, often feeling ashamed and guilty, to face their challenges in solitude. Coming back, and interacting with others could be extremely difficult for these people. However, opening to potential emotional partners and letting them know about addiction and recovery are necessary steps.
There are several opinions on how should addicts disclose their status and when to do it. One of them is that conversation on this topic should be completely honest and open, during the first date or encounter. Another one believes that a relationship needs to develop first, in order to choose the best moment to reveal the past and present situation. Practically, there is no right or wrong opinion. Every case is different, and the decision should be free from any kind of pressure and made exclusively by the person on recovery.
Despite how promising the relationship looks, a rehabilitated person has to think about recovery first. In some cases, former addicts might actually believe that new relationships are the only way to come back to normal living. They could falsely choose to abandon their routines and activities and put the whole recovery at risk, to satisfy their new emotional partner.
Therefore, at any sign of discomfort or partner’s suspicious behavior, such as the absence of communication and laying, infidelity, dramatic behavior, frequent conflicts, lack of intimacy or ignorance, the relationship should be re-evaluated.
By joining programs in men drug rehab facilities or free addiction counseling centers, former addicts can seek assistance and advice on how to cope with relationships, existing or new, during recovery.