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Rehab Romances

Relationships in rehab, otherwise known as “rehab romances,” frequently occur in the rehab setting, and there’s a reason for it.

A patient’s stay in rehab for addiction is a sensitive and fragile time. Lots of inner work needs to be done.

But what happens if an individual becomes distracted by the opposite sex? Can a relationship in rehab work? What is usually the result of these rehab romances?

Meeting a boyfriend or girlfriend in rehab sounds like not the best idea and there’s a reason why.

Table of Contents

What is a Rehab Romance?

A rehab relationship describes a relationship between two people attending rehab together. Many rehabs are co-ed, and this makes sense. Both women and men need help overcoming addiction.

However, co-ed rehabs usually have strict rules in place when it comes to the intermingling of the opposite sex. It is impossible to completely separate women from men and vice-versa.

Rehab romances can begin as innocent talk or intentionally by showing an interest in another person. This is why to most reputable rehabs, close monitoring of the patients is essential to help keep patients focused on their recovery.

Why Do Rehab Romances Happen?

Rehab relationships and romances happen for several different reasons. In the following list, we will break down some of the strongest motivations for patients to get into a relationship at rehab.

The two main reasons are as follows…

A Convenient Distraction

Early recovery requires a lot of inner work. It requires a lot of feelings and emotions that people normally have pushed down with the use of drugs—getting into a relationship while in rehab can serve as a temporary distraction that keeps them from working on themselves. This motivation is cause for concern because in rehab, working on yourself is a life or death matter.

Insecure and Codependent Characteristics

Many people who have a history of addiction also have a history of codependency. Meaning, they are very much used to constantly being in a relationship, even if the relationship is not healthy. 

Going into rehab can bring about feelings of loneliness, and the need to “be” with someone can still be prevalent. In rehab, it’s very important to work on these codependent and unhealthy behaviors.

Looking for Someone to Idolize

In 12-step programs, it is suggested you find a power greater than yourself to help remove the obsession to use. Sometimes, when you’re new, your higher power becomes a person of the opposite sex.

Putting your faith in a person is risky because humans are fallible. Doing this pretty much ensures you will be let down. Humans make terrible Gods, after all.

Think about it, how many times have you put your faith and trust into someone who completely let you down? Almost every human being on this earth can attest to having this experience.

The Overall Reason for Rehab Romances

As people in recovery from addiction, we’re all about instant gratification. We want to experience things instantly. Whether that is with our drug of (no) choice, a job, or many other aspects of life. When a person is coming off a drug or alcohol bender, they are more than likely experiencing extremely raw emotions. We tend to do anything in our power to suppress these feelings.

This is where rehab romances are known to start. Being in a treatment facility, you are going through a similar experience as the person next to you, which creates a bond. A rehab romance bond can be either helpful or harmful. While it is imperative to create new sober friendships, it is easy to take a friendship to the relationship level.

This is extremely dangerous. The early stages of recovery themselves are already a crazy emotional rollercoaster. Adding the stress and emotions of a relationship to the stress and emotions of early sobriety can have disastrous consequences.

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Why is Recovery Such a Sensitive Time?

The early days in recovery are a sacred time that patients must protect at all costs. Not to say that a relationship with someone in early recovery will never work because there have been very few exceptions.

However, within at least the first year of recovery, recovery experts say that time should be spent focusing on and building up yourself.

Addiction robs so much from people, and early recovery is where you start to build the foundations of your life again. It is no time to pursue any relationship.

If you or someone you know is thinking about getting into a relationship with someone in rehab, you must count the cost.

The relationship might come at the cost of your very sobriety, and therefore your life. This early in the game, when a person is still in rehab, it’s still very hard to know who will succeed and who won’t.

Getting into a rehab relationship with someone who eventually relapses could mean you are also headed from a relapse.

What are the Risks of Rehab Relationships?

The risks of rehab relationships are many, but they all go back to the risk of relapse.

As mentioned above, if someone is not interested in truly pursuing their recovery, a relationship might feel like the right thing to do at that time.

If you aren’t strong in your recovery, you could be a phone call or a car drive away from leaving rehab and relapsing on your drug of choice.

Getting carried away with a fantasy of a perfect future, a beautiful partner, and believe it will be perfect. You d0not need to focus on your recovery anymore is honestly a huge possibility.

What Should I do instead While in Rehab?

Whether inpatient or outpatient, patients in rehab should primarily focus on their recovery from drugs and alcohol.

Patients should spend the majority of their time doing the following:

  1. Reading recovery material
  2. Attending recovery groups
  3. Completely rehab workbooks and assignments
  4. Attend rehab fully and be present
  5. Practice mindfulness
  6. Use tactics like “think it through” to see what type of future you may be giving yourself with this person.

Related Educational Content and Guides

Addiction and Codependency: Are You Helping or Hurting Your Partner?
How to Find a Sponsor in a 12 Step Program [Guide]




Our writers are experienced in everything related to addiction, mental health, rehab and recovery.

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