Communication is the cornerstone of a good relationship between you and a significant other, so it’s normal for those in recovery to want to share their experience with someone they are seeing. Romantic relationships are complex, and many professionals will not recommend starting a new relationship during the first year of recovery. After that, though, finding the right person can enrich your life. Since your addiction recovery is a big part of who you are, when should you share that part of yourself with this person?
The Difference Between Secrecy and Privacy
The first thing to remember is there are no rules for what you tell others about your history with drugs or alcohol. It’s your choice.
There is a difference, though, between privacy and secrecy. People who are in recovery can sometimes feel ashamed of their past, so they become secretive. Everyone has a past, so there is no reason to be secretive about yours. You’ll feel better if you share even just that you are in recovery.
It’s okay not to go into detail, though. You have a right to your privacy, but by letting a significant other know that you are in recovery, you can avoid potential triggers as you socialize. You decide what to tell them after that, and they shouldn’t press you to talk more about your experience with substance use disorder unless you want to share.
When to Share Your Recovery Story
If your partner cares about you, they’ll understand why you don’t want to share every detail of your recovery. You can provide some details as the relationship progresses and when it feels safe and comfortable for both of you. You know best when you feel a real connection with someone, and when you’re ready to share more with them.
Find the Right Moment
That moment should be early in your relationship. Waiting may just put up a wall between you, and it might expose you to triggers unnecessarily. For example, going to a bar might be uncomfortable for you. What happens if your partner wants you to meet their friends at their local hangout? You can’t expect them to act on information they don’t know.
The truth is if this person has a problem with your recovery, the sooner you know that, the better. Ask people in meetings to share their experiences with relationships and how they approached discussing recovery with their loved ones so that you can get some ideas.
Help Your Partner Understand Addiction
There is a lot of misconceptions about substance use disorders. Not everyone knows that it is a disease, for example. They may not understand the changes drug use makes to brain chemistry.
Come prepared with plenty of information and be ready to answer questions. You might bring pamphlets they can read later in private, too. This will help them better understand what is going on with you and what your recovery means.
Be Honest About Your Recovery
If you do decide to share more about your drug use history, then be honest about it. Take ownership of the decisions you made, but if there are factors behind them like chronic pain, mental health problems, or trauma, that is important information for a significant other to know.
One of the most things you must be honest about is if you need treatment still. An effective drug and alcohol rehab program includes families in the recovery process. Family is an important support system outside of treatment and family therapy can help repair relationships and build that system up.
Making sure that you and your partner have open and honest communication about your past and present can create a strong connection between the two of you. Sharing a bit of your history with substance use disorder can help you both to understand each other better, and it can be beautiful to witness how two people in recovery use their shared experiences as a foundation for building a healthy relationship. Though it may take some time to open up about your addiction recovery, when the right person comes along, you’ll know when you’re ready.
Reach Out to San Antonio Recovery Center for Treatment
San Antonio Recovery Center (SARC), with two treatment locations in the San Antonio region, provides a full continuum of services such as:
- Residential treatment
- Intensive outpatient therapy
- Aftercare services
- Family therapy
- 12-step meetings
San Antonio Recovery Center works to keep its pricing affordable, as well.
The combination of primary treatment options like residential care or intensive outpatient services, family therapy, and aftercare helps strengthen your path to recovery. If you are stable, it will be easier to talk to others about what is going on in your life.