Relationships in Recovery
Tips for Getting Sober Alongside Your Girlfriend

Getting sober with a significant other can be tricky. If you have both battled substance abuse and you make the decision to get sober at the same time, you are liable to experience a range of challenges. Maybe your girlfriend relapses after medical detox and you stay clean; maybe she doesn’t want to transition into a higher level of care while you believe that a multi-phased treatment approach is the best route to take. If you have been in a relationship for an extended period of time, you might be wondering, “Can I get sober with my girlfriend?”

At Immersion Recovery Center we believe that recovery is always possible regardless of your current circumstances. However, seeking professional addiction treatment is also a very self-involved process. Addiction recovery is an opportune time to focus on personal growth and development, to work through underlying issues and to heal past wounds. Over the course of your recovery journey you will learn about yourself and what makes you tick while developing a vital sense of self-worth. Only when you have developed a solid foundation for your personal recovery will you be equipped to help the ones you love. Once you have a firm foundation to stand on, then you can work on your relationship more in depth. We recommend that each of our clients take time to focus exclusively on their own recovery in gender-specific treatment. Not only will this allow you time to work through what is keeping you stuck in a cycle of substance use, but it will allow you to successfully work through future relationship issues with the tools you have learned.

Relationship Challenges While Seeking Sobriety

Self-care is an important part of addiction recovery regardless of your relationship status. When you’re getting sober while in a relationship, it becomes important for an entirely new set of behaviors. Engaging in self-care implies putting your personal needs before the needs of your girlfriend, setting and maintaining healthy personal boundaries and keeping up with your personal program of recovery. If you and your girlfriend are getting sober at the same time, there are several potential hurdles you could face. Here are some tips for facing challenges.

Tips For Facing Potential Challenges:

  • Your girlfriend experiences a relapse – Of course, we hope you never have to experience this; but considering how shaky and vulnerable early sobriety can be it is a good idea to prepare yourself for the worst. Maybe you continue going to 12-Step meetings on a daily basis, calling your sponsor and working through stepwork, meeting with your individual therapist and taking care of your mental health, while your girlfriend steps away from her personal program of recovery. If she slips back into old behaviors, it is important you have the tools in place to avoid going “back out” with her.
  • You fight more than ever before – Early recovery can be a tumultuous time. Why? Because you’re both growing, and growing pains can be difficult to work through! As you both learn more about who you are individually and as you both begin experiencing feelings once again (after numbing them out for months or years), you are bound to butt heads on occasion. If and when you do get into a spat, take this as an opportune time to hone your conflict resolution skills. Remember that you have the power to effectively resolve any argument and move on — emotions are always temporary.

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  • You end up going your separate ways – In some cases, the only thing two people have in common is a substance abuse disorder. This is a harsh reality but it is one that’s worth preparing for. When people get sober they grow, change and evolve. They learn what it is they like to do and what they want out of life; in some cases, that doesn’t align with what their partner wants. If you find out you and your girlfriend are quite different people, you might make the mutual decision to go your separate ways; and that’s okay.
  • You’re tempted to offer your girlfriend advice on her sobriety – If you see your girlfriend struggling you might feel inclined to tell her what’s been working for you. You might want to bring her to your favorite meeting or suggest she call her sponsor. It is important to focus on your own recovery and allow your girlfriend to focus on hers, otherwise you begin treading into codependent territory which can ultimately be dangerous.

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Benefits of Getting Sober in a Relationship

Getting sober while you’re in a relationship can also be a beautiful and incredible thing. If you and your girlfriend stay sober and learn to focus on your recovery programs individually, you will start experiencing immense benefits in a short period of time.

getting sober with my girlfriend

Benefits of Getting Sober:

  • Without drugs or alcohol you are able to approach interpersonal relationships with a healthy understanding of others. You will start to understand your girlfriend’s needs, expectations and frustrations, which will set you up to be a much better partner.
  • Getting sober helps you understand your own role in conflict. When active in addiction it’s easy to place the blame on everyone else and avoid looking at yourself. Once you get sober you can step back and process situations, then come back and approach them in a more appropriate (and less selfish) way.
  • You will learn to let go of your personal expectations. One of the biggest hangups we have in relationships is unrealistic expectations of our partner. Once you get sober you learn to let go of these expectations and focus your emotional energy on your own self-growth.
  • You will let go of unhealthy behavioral patterns. The longer you stay sober, the more aware you’ll become of how you function in relationships. You might learn that you engage in certain patterns of behavior that aren’t conducive to healthy interpersonal relationships. Sobriety allows you the opportunity to reverse these behavioral patterns while working towards self-improvement.

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Learning to Let Go

One of the most difficult lessons to learn when you get sober is that you have no power over how well your partner does in their recovery. There’s a certain saying, one made popular in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous — “Let go and let God.”

According to an article published in the A.A. Grapevine, a piece of literature published and distributed by Alcoholics Anonymous, “If we’re truly letting go and letting God, the probable result is that we’ve lost most of the fear and anxiety concerning any problem that might be troubling us at the moment. Obviously we’re hopeful that the solution, whatever it may be, won’t involve too much temporary pain or loss. Still, we should also be careful not to assume that God delights in causing us pain or loss, for these usually occur only as a result of our partial or total separation from Him. Surely God’s will for us is that we live fully and abundantly on all levels – the physical, emotional and intellectual, as well as the spiritual.”

It’s important to understand the only person you have any control over is yourself.

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When you reach out to Immersion Recovery, whether by form, chat or call, you will be instantly connected to one of our Treatment Advisors. Most of our Treatment Advisors are either in recovery themselves or have helped a loved one through the process. We understand exactly what you are going through and are ready to help make the process of receiving treatment simple and straightforward. Immersion Recovery Center is among the few treatment centers in the United States that infuses a 12-Step approach with clinically proven therapies. This truly immersive experience benefits body and mind and offers hope for lasting, long-term recovery. Not only will you heal on a personal level, but the damage done to your interpersonal relationships will be resolved over time and you will learn how to function in healthy, fulfilling relationships. The only choice you need to make right now is to begin. Contact us today for more information or to begin your personal journey of recovery.

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Reviewed for accuracy by :

Serving as the Inpatient Clinical Director at Immersion Recovery Center, Susan will work directly with staff members, clients, and family members to ensure the clinical program remains as effective and individualized as possible. Susan is no stranger to the fields of behavioral health and addiction. She has over 25 years of experience, working in an inpatient setting, an outpatient setting, acute stabilization and nearly all other settings in the realm of addiction recovery.