With February 14th right around the corner, love is in the air… wait, is that love, or is that just a kind of triggering, super obnoxious and overly commercialized holiday that was originally developed by greeting card companies exclusively for profit? The truth is, Valentine’s Day does have some historical origins – it was not actually developed by Hallmark in order to boost greeting card sales. Still, it is estimated that Americans spend roughly 20 billion dollars on this day every year. So yeah – there might be a little bit of societal pressure involved. If you are currently in a relationship, you might be planning a cute little (COVID-friendly) dinner date, or expecting the same overpriced bouquet of roses you get annually. If you are currently single, you are probably dreading the holiday or expecting to violently ignore it altogether. Maybe you’re hosting a Single’s Only movie night, or simply locking yourself inside and watching The Notebook on repeat as you cry into your cat. Whatever the case may be, the reality of the situation is inevitable – Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and “relationship-centric” holidays really suck for some of us.
Romance, Valentine’s Day and Sobriety
As far as addiction recovery goes – we are told to stay out of romantic relationships for the first year of our sobriety. There are several reasons behind this sentiment. First of all, romantic relationships serve as a major distraction. Because staying sober is no small feat, we truly do need to give our recovery our full attention during (at least) the initial 12 months. Entering into a relationship takes away from our program, even if we adamantly attempt to convince ourselves that it doesn’t. There will come a day when we skip out on an AA meeting in lieu of a beach day with our sweetie, or a night when we overshoot the halfway house curfew by a solid 45 minutes because we were passionately making out in a Taco Bell parking lot. So yes, in short – romance (or whatever you want to call it) can be a distraction, and can detract from what it is we are actually trying to achieve, which is, uh… becoming a whole and functional human being. Secondly, going through a break-up can serve as a major relapse trigger. Break-ups are never fun, and they often lead to a wide variety of super uncomfortable emotions, like grief, sadness, self-pity and poor self-esteem. All of these feelings are triggering, and there is a good chance that if you are only several weeks into your recovery journey you don’t yet know how to handle them.
If you are reading this and you are both new to recovery and currently romantically involved – of course you are. Getting sober is hard, taking suggestions is even harder. We truly do think we know what’s best for us, even when our very best thinking landed us in rehab in the first place. If this is the case, however, know that all hope is not lost. We have compiled a list of ways to stay sober through anything – even through a heart-wrenching early recovery break-up.
Staying Sober Through a Break-Up
Here are several tips on how to stay sober through even the nastiest of break-ups:
Even though it might seem “overly dramatic,” block your ex on all forms of social media immediately. Space is crucial to healing, and taking a break from Facebook might not be enough – if you really want to move on, it’s a good idea to go through the motions and completely distance yourself. Otherwise, you can easily fall back into the pattern you are trying to avoid. Get back together, break-up again, get back together one last time – distance yourself!
Even if you don’t feel emotionally up to doing so, stay committed to your daily recovery routine. Go to your homegroup even if you cry through the whole meeting, call your sponsor even if you “really don’t want to talk about it,” and talk to your higher power every morning and every evening, even if it’s just to say, “Why do you hate me?” Even if you’re just going through the motions, stick to your schedule.
Find some creative outlets. Working through emotions is tricky, and it might be difficult to talk things out when the wounds are still fresh. Try jotting down your feelings in a journal or utilizing another form of artistic expression, like drawing, painting or collaging. If art isn’t your thing, try exercising – go for a jog on the beach (and if you feel like crying, allow yourself to cry) or take a yoga class with a close friend. Try to move the uncomfortable emotions through your body in any way that feels right, and remember to be patient with yourself while you explore what works for you.
Reach out for additional help and support. Maybe AA meetings aren’t enough, and you know that you would benefit from a one-on-one session with a trusted therapist or addiction counselor. Deep down you know what it is you need – listen to your gut, and reach out for additional help if you need to. Sometimes working through a break-up with an unbiased therapist can make all of the difference in the world.
More on Developing a Healthy Support System
Developing a healthy support system does not mean finding a recovery “ride or die” and relying on this person for support and encouragement. Developing a healthy support system means finding a group of men or women (it is generally a good rule of thumb to stick with people of the same gender, or at least people that you don’t run the risk of falling madly in love with) who have been sober for longer than you have. People who have something that you want – whether that be a level of self-confidence that seems entirely unattainable, the ability to open up emotionally and get vulnerable or simply a life beyond your wildest dreams. Find a group of sober role models, and stick with these people. “Stick with the winners,” as they say. A “winner” is not someone who wears the most expensive sneakers or someone who drives the fanciest whip, but someone who has managed to stay sober long-term and who is truly living his or her best life.
Chapel Hill Detox – Begin Your Personal Journey of Healing
If you have recently experienced a relapse or if you have yet to commit to a long-term program of addiction recovery, we are available to help. At Chapel Hill Detox we know exactly what it takes to get and stay sober, seeing as the majority of our staff members have overcome addiction themselves years ago. Our team of experienced medical professionals, licensed therapists and addiction specialists work together to provide the most comprehensive detox program available throughout Southern Florida. In addition to focusing on physical stabilization and a pain-free drug or alcohol withdrawal, we offer therapeutic intervention and rehab placement services geared towards helping our clients continue on in their personal recovery journeys. If you would like to learn more or get started, please feel free to reach out to us today. If you have been tempted to pick up after undergoing an unpleasant break-up or another emotionally difficult experience, we are available to offer any additional support you might need.