Under the best of circumstances, dating can be pretty stressful. But what happens if you’ve suffered from addiction and/or been in rehab? How do you get back in the game? In today’s guest post, Terry Stegall has some great advice.

You’ve left rehab feeling a new found sense of optimism; you’re wondering if the time is right to share your new sober life with a significant other. The dating world is treacherous and gut-wrenchingly terrifying enough without attempting to remain clean. Dealing with all the emotional highs and lows of makeups, break-ups and the dreaded singles scene is stressful enough as is.

Before jumping feet first and blindfolded in shark-infested waters, take a step back, examine your life and take a thorough look, before allowing someone to share your present and future. You may think you’re ready, but it’s important to realize that beginning a new (and potentially tumultuous) relationship, could prove detrimental to your sobriety.

The One Year Rule

As a general rule, several therapists, counselors and rehabilitation programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous, stress the concept of waiting at least one year after completing any type of program before dating again. The first year after treatment is critical to success and this time should be spent on personal growth, not on romantic pursuits. Imagine attempting to construct a home without a solid foundation? The structure would surely crumble and this same concept holds true for anyone attempting to rebuild their life and relationships after rehab. Even if you meet someone special in that first year, it’s imperative to remain honest with him or her that your sobriety is the first and most important obligation in your life.

Meeting New People

In the world of dating, not much has changed in the last 40 years. A lot of people still are attempting to meet their ideal life partner in a most unsavory setting: the bar. This might have been your arena of choice in the past too, but the biggest problem with this strategy is the other temptations that you confront. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, it probably goes without stating that the bar is the last place you should patronize. Instead, try a little creativity by meeting potential mates in unusual places. You’d be amazed at the catch you might find enrolling in a college course, strolling through the bookstore or even shopping for frozen pizzas at 3 p.m. Where you meet someone really isn’t the point, either. It’s all about ensuring you’re stable enough to handle the exhilarations and pitfalls that come with a serious relationship.

The Emptiness of Addiction

As a recovering addict, you’re probably feeling several mixed emotions. You feel isolated from your friends and family; yet you might also feel a euphoric sense of pride when you realize how far you’ve come. Another emotion you might feel is emptiness, although your lack of companionship on Friday night might not be the cause. As an addict, your only purpose was feeding your addiction. You didn’t care about grocery shopping, paying bills or meeting work deadlines. The constant search for your drug of choice actually gave you a strange sense of purpose. Now that it’s over, you’re left with empty hours, days and nights with no cravings to feed. The lack of options leads many recovering addicts to seek out a lover to fulfill a need for drama, companionship or even turn sex into a new drug. That’s why having an honest and open dialogue with your therapist is crucial. He or she will help you realize the unhealthy role sex and companionship can play in your life and provide you with tools to build lasting, honest relationships.

Is it Love or a Distraction?

You’ve met someone: he or she is the perfect combinations of adorable, smart, funny and charming. You see all the good points about this person, but yet your friends and family members aren’t convinced. The relationship begins casually, but before you know it, this other person becomes the main focus of your life. Once again, honesty is the best policy when it comes to addiction and dating; it’s important to realize if this relationship is based on mutual respect, love and admiration instead of filling a void or creating a distraction for your addiction. As a recovering addict, you must have an honest relationship with your partner, which also means this person must be made aware of your addiction and accept the fact you must be selfish to remain sober.

If you or a loved one is suffering with addiction, there are several Texas drug rehab facilities that will help you live a stable and sober life. Many drug rehab centers in Houston, both inpatient and outpatient, are conveniently located in the metro area and filled with compassionate and caring individuals ready to help you conquer your addiction.

This article was written by Terry Stegall, who is familiar with Texas drug rehab programs. Terry lives in Texas where he works in a drug rehab Houston facility helping others to lead a clean and sober life.