With Valentine’s Day around the corner, thoughts turn to romantic meals, chocolate, and a couple of glasses of fine wine. Unfortunately, however, with roughly 23.5 million Americans (that’s ten percent of America) in recovery of some sort, wine isn’t always on the menu. Here are some helpful hints when it comes to Valentine’s Day dates for someone in recovery.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism, the number of male addicts over the age of eighteen as 9.8 million and the number of female addicts over the age of eighteen as 5.3 million. So, what is it like taking sober breaks with loved ones? Whether you’re sober yourself or they are – or, indeed, you both are – what can you do?
First off, educate yourself. Some recent scientific evidence finds that:
- Chemical addiction is a brain disease. Heavy exposure to alcohol and/or drugs changes the brain in long-lasting ways.
- Chemical dependence is a chronic, relapsing disease that requires changes in behavior.
- Addiction treatment is as effective in reducing the symptoms of the disease as are most treatments for heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.
- Chemically dependent individuals comply with their treatment as frequently as those suffering from other chronic relapsing diseases, which require the individual to make permanent changes in their behaviors.
The most important thing to remember while dating is that sobriety is above all else. If the person in recovery isn’t good to themselves, they’re not going to be good for anyone else, so it makes perfect sense. Some even say that if you’re in early recovery, then going out on a date – Valentine’s Day or any other – isn’t too smart.
But, as many things are easier said than done, what if you are going to go out on that romantic Valentine’s date with someone in recovery? Here are some tips.
Dinner & A Movie
Movie theaters typically don’t serve alcohol (make sure before you go!), so that takes one obstacle out of the way. As for dinner, you’ll have something to talk about if you schedule it after the movie. Hot tip: if the dinner table is preset, turn the wine glasses over as your waiter should pick up on this as a nonverbal cue.
Picnic By The Water
Water is often a calming influence, so a nice picnic by a pond or romantic walk around a lake would lead to a calming Valentine’s date. And putting together a picnic is easy; simply grab a blanket and put a “basket” together of sandwiches and snacks and non-alcoholic drinks.
Instead of heading out at night where the expectations for alcohol rise, go out during the day instead. Head to a zoo, go hiking, or go to a museum.
It’s often just as romantic to stay home and cook something instead of heading out. This way you’re in a safe space, and there shouldn’t be any nasty surprises or temptations.
Put a game together that brings your loved one to areas you’ve created memories together.
And to add to the dinner ideas, bear in mind:
- Eating well can enhance recovery.
- Certain foods can help with anxiety.
Whatever you do, there are also safe ways to do it. These include:
Avoiding Triggers on Valentine’s Day
Don’t go to places that serve alcohol – or where many people will be drinking (like concerts, etc). You need to understand the mindset of your loved one who’s in recovery so if they seem more receptive to a quiet night in, then respect them and give them that.
Doing Something Mutually Enjoyable
There’s a rush of endorphins in both people when a couple does something they each enjoy as much as the other. Whether you’re hiking, doing yoga, playing chess, getting your chef on in the kitchen or marathoning Doctor Who, you’ll both enjoy the date and each other that much more.
There are also some things you can do if you’re in recovery and alone on Valentine’s Day.
Reach out to loved ones – reaffirm to family and friends that you’re there, tell them how you’re doing, and remind them that you love/respect them. The best gift you can give a loved one is your sobriety so they’ll want to hear from you.
Rebuild Relationships – it takes a while to rebuild what’s been torn down but it’s not only possible, it’s done every day. This, of course, takes time but it’s an important part of recovery to be aware of those who love and support you. Whether it’s family or a loved one, reach out and take it one day at a time.
Love Yourself! – because often people find themselves the hardest to love, take the time to give yourself some hugs. Treat yourself!
There are so many different things you can do on Valentine’s Day that reaffirm your life. We’re NOT supposed to all go out for dinner on Valentine’s; Hallmark and the restaurant industry will have you believe that, but it’s just not true. So don’t buy into the hype; instead, if you must do anything at all, keep it light, stress and trigger free, and remember to smile.
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