One of the principles of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is to wait a year before entering into a relationship. For some, this might feel really restrictive. The idea behind this principle of Alcoholics Anonymous relationships is that an individual must learn to love oneself before loving someone else, though. Whether to wait a year or not is an individual choice. However, it’s worth exploring the reasons it is worthwhile to wait according to the theories behind AA and relationships.
AA and Relationships
Knowing the reasons that it’s beneficial to wait before getting into a relationship can give you the strength you need to stay strong on your own for the first year in recovery.
One of the dangers of starting a relationship too soon in recovery is that a person is more likely to use a relationship as a substitute for drugs or alcohol. This codependency can form quickly especially if family, friends, and colleagues keep a distance due to strained relationships resulting from addiction. A person can experience shame and fear which keep family and friends at a distance leading to isolation and loneliness. Starting over with someone new who does not know the personal history of addiction can feel freeing but it can be tempting to get involved with the wrong person for the wrong reasons. You don’t want to chance ruining a potentially great relationship because you’re simply using the person as a replacement for drugs or alcohol.
The possibility of relapse is always hanging over people in recovery at any stage, particularly in the first year. Emotions run high in a relationship as well as chemicals in the brain which produce euphoric feelings of being connected early on in a relationship. When the feelings go away, or the person decides to leave the relationship, this can lead to a downward spiral towards relapse to cope. Waiting a year or longer gives you more time to learn coping mechanisms and truly get to know yourself.
An AA sponsor is an important element of the recovery process. When a person enters into a relationship within the first year, especially, it can become all consuming with everything else falling by the wayside. Family, recovery and a relationship with the sponsor can become secondary to spending time, money and energy on the new person who seems more exciting. A good sponsor will be there no matter what and provide support so it is important to maintain close Alcoholics Anonymous relationships only with sponsors. with all the ups and downs of recovery, including relationships.
Making the Decision to Seek Alcoholics Anonymous Relationships
In the end, is ultimately up to each individual what to do regarding AA and relationships. There are reasons to support letting relationships wait until after some time has passed, to allow more time to spend in recovery and with oneself. The key to spending time in recovery is taking space to think about addiction, the ramifications of one’s own behaviors on others and to see how to make amends and create a better life going forward. Recovery is an ongoing process but sometimes it is helpful to wait a period of time to allow space for thoughtful growth and perspective which can lead to healthier relationships down the road which can be ultimately more fulfilling.
Seeking Alcoholism Treatment Improves Your Chances for a Healthy Relationship
Before you begin AA meetings, you may want to consider inpatient addiction treatment. At The Last Resort Recovery, we utilize the 12 step approach as part of our comprehensive alcohol addiction treatment program, to support clients struggling with addiction. In addition, we also offer a number of other programs, including:
- Equine therapy
- Fitness program
- Individualized treatment plans
If you need help, call us for more information on our programs or alcoholics anonymous relationships.