Alcoholism and Relationships

I have a question about alcoholism and relationships. I am a recovering alcoholic in my first year of sobriety – can I be in a romantic relationship?

While no one can really tell you what to do, it is generally recommended to stay out of all romantic relationships in recovery – at least the first year of sobriety. Whether or not you decide that this is important for you to follow or not will be completely up to you.

I happen to believe that the majority of the suggestions made in the rooms of twelve step meetings are good suggestions.

This suggestion can become a little tricky if you are already in a relationship when you decide to get sober. Obviously, if you are in a very serious relationship or marriage, no one is going to tell you to break up or get divorced until you have one full year of sobriety. 

I personally was in a relationship already when I decided to get sober, and I believe that there are positives and negatives to this.


On one hand, being in a relationship is hard enough on its own…now add the extra pressure of staying sober.

If the relationship starts to have problems, which all relationships inevitably do, this could cause some extremely negative emotions and trigger a person to go back to drinking or using.

When you are in early sobriety, you already have an extreme range of emotions to cope with. Being in a new relationship also gives you an extreme range of emotions to sort out. The combination of these two things

– staying away from alcohol and

- relationships

could be a very harmful thing for your recovery if you are not able to deal with these emotions in a healthy way. A relationship with an alcoholic definitely has its own unique challenges.


If a relationship is going well, it can be a really good support system, assuming your partner supports your decision to get and stay sober.

My experience with alcoholism and relationships was that my relationship made staying sober a lot easier. I had someone who was supportive to me in every way possible, at all times. My husband does not drink or do drugs; he has been sober since the first time I decided to get clean. Sure, we have disagreements every now and then, but I’ve been lucky enough to have a relationship that really supported and reinforced my sobriety.

Again, no one can tell you what to do, and no one can predict how a relationship or your sobriety will turn out. That being said, early sobriety is a time for you to get to know yourself and to rediscover what is important to you. Relationships with recovering alcoholics can be difficult. After using or drinking for so long, people’s realities become so skewed that they may not really know what they want and what they need. I think that taking that first year to just focus on yourself, your life, and your recovery is a really good suggestion and don't mix alcoholism and relationships too soon. 

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