The matrix of addiction, relationships and dating

BY JACOB OKETCH

One of the biggest worries of an alcoholic is how to resuscitate their intimate relationships after recovery. A long period of drinking leaves a litany of harms that takes longer to sort out. 

Many relationships have been severed because one of the partners was alcoholic and their behavior made the relationship untenable. You will not be surprised to find many people who live alone because their marriages were broken due to alcoholism.

During the period of alcoholism, a tendency occurs where the alcoholic involve themselves in all manner of sexual relations that are not intimate at all. In most cases, these liaisons are mainly for sexual gratification with people of dubious backgrounds. In the end, this kind of liaison leaves the alcoholic much worse than they were when their marriages broke down.

So when you make a decision to seek recovery from alcoholism, you are one very vulnerable fellow who needs a bit of time to repair yourself before you even think of getting intimate with someone. There are those who get involved with fellow alcoholics even when they are in treatment. This does not work in most cases because both of you are trying to sort out your messes and hardly have the energy and time for being intimate. There are also instances where a patient gets attracted to a counselor and tries to pursue them. This may not even be a genuine attraction but transference. The patient confuses their feelings for their former partner to be for the counselor.

In such a scenario, a counselor told me that the best thing to do is to transfer such a patient to a different place or to ask to be replaced by another counselor. A relationship between a patient and a counselor is not healthy at all because it would be very difficult for them to perceive each other as partners after having had the patient-counselor relationship during recovery.

When you are a recovering alcoholic, it is advisable to take a back seat for a while as far as relationships are concerned. The recommended time frame for resuming dating is one year. This makes quite a lot of sense given that you have a lot of issues to deal with before you regain your full sobriety and focus. You don’t need to rush things because you are working the steps towards recovery and you don’t need any distraction that easily gets you off track.

In the case of people who were married and need to restore their marital life, there is need for a period of adjustment. You see, your marriage may have faced such a hard knock that there are several issues to be ironed out before even talking about getting back together. A lot of people misconceive that a recovering alcoholic can just go back and fall in the arms of their partner now that they are recovering and are sober. Surprisingly, in some instances, as soon as the alcoholic returns home to continue recovering, the marriage breaks down irretrievably. It is important to give each other some time of adjustment before reviewing the state of the relationship.

It takes time to be addicted and become a full-blown alcoholic. Hence, the process of isolation that is characterized by alcoholism is a long one. It is not something that just goes away as soon as one is sober. The alcoholic needs time to regain their confidence in order to be able to be intimate again. Moreover, if they had challenges relating to intimacy before they became alcoholic, they may need even a longer time to work this out.

When one partner is an addict, there occurs a total communication breakdown in the relationship. For some, this breakdown could have been going on for years to the extent that the relationship could have all but collapsed a long time ago but was surviving on the consideration that there were children to be raised and educated. For such a relationship to be repaired there is need for restoration of that communication and it takes quite a great deal of time to do that.

When relationships break down due to alcoholism, even trust goes with it. A partner who has been enduring an abusive relationship attempts to find ways of coping with their challenges. So when an alcoholic is recovering and needs to restore the relationship, they must bear in mind that their partner requires time to wean off their coping strategies before they can resume the relationship. This can only happen when trust has been restored between the two and this takes time.

Counseling works all the time for recovering alcoholics. When you feel so challenged by intimacy issues, it would be useful to consult a counselor who can guide you over how to handle the situation. A therapist will assist a patient to dig deeper into the underlying issues that plaque their intimacy. And if alcoholism has caused so much damage to the relationship, the best thing to do is to end it because it will just pile miseries on both partners and that is not a conducive environment especially for someone who is on recovery from alcoholism.

If for some reason, one has problems with their libido, they should consult a doctor to identify where the problem is. It is important to note that the lack of drive for sex during years of alcoholism can severely affect one’s sex life and specific therapy towards this problem may be called for.

For an alcoholic, the early stages of recovery are quite emotional and so things only start to settle down only when somebody has settled in sobriety as well. This is when one is able to find time to manage their intimate affairs. It may also be very helpful to seek relationship-counseling services from experts. This way, you start on a clean slate and look forward to healthy and fulfilling relationship in your s
ober future.    

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