The short answer is no, but the concept of dating in early recovery is important and worth discussing. It is generally discouraged and for good reason.

With recovery and sobriety comes vulnerability, especially in the early stages. The feelings and bad past experiences that you have been self-medicating away are coming to the surface.

It can be very painful and it would be easy to focus on love rather than your difficult feelings. But that is the really worst thing you can do! A relationship gone badly can completely derail you. You have one main goal in early recovery-to remain sober. That’s it.

While the Big Book of AA does not specifically address this matter, it’s commonly believed in the recovery community that dating in early recovery is not a good idea. A time frame of one year of not dating is often referenced. This is not a magic number but sometimes a mental time frame can be helpful.

Recovery is about recovering. It is a path of self-discovery and enlightenment. It’s a time to focus on you and you alone. Of course, if you are already in a relationship I am not recommending breaking it off however your recovery will change things and can sometimes really upset the apple cart. Your partner may need help adjusting to a changing you.

New relationships can be exciting but also can also be fraught with turmoil if they don’t go well. It is important to be aware that you may be substituting one obsession or addiction for another. Love addiction is a real phenomenon. So is codependency. Cross addiction is very common.

If you attend 12 step meetings, be aware of “thirteenth stepping.” Unfortunately, sometimes people with “more time” in 12 step recovery will try to date a new person in the program. This is referred to as “13th stepping.” While they may be ready, you are not! And while this may be flattering, it is unwise. It is common to think that dating someone in recovery is a good idea. In the future and in the long run, it may be, it is not right now.


This is the time to focus on self-care, reading, learning, making new sober friendships, repairing old relationships that may have suffered from your addiction. Dating and romance can be a distraction to the spiritual and well-being journey you are now on.

How do you know when you are ready to date? This, of course, is a very personal decision. A decision that should be discussed with those in your recovery circle-friends, family, sponsors, coaches, etc. As long as you feel ready and have discussed dating again with those who know you well and have your best interests in mind, it may be time to test the waters. Don’t be surprised if what you looked for previously in a partner has changed dramatically.

After your detox with us, our care team at The Coleman Institute for Addiction Medicine can help you put together a recovery plan that incorporates lots of feel-good activities that do not revolve around drugs, alcohol, or love. Other than self-love of course!

Deborah Reich, MD