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How to Make the Most of Valentine’s Day in Recovery

Any holiday can be a potential trigger if you’re in recovery, especially Valentine’s Day. For some people, Valentine’s Day is a painful reminder of past relationships that were destroyed by alcohol and drug addiction. For others, current struggles in relationships can make the holiday more stressful. Sometimes even just feeling lonely on Valentine’s Day can become a trigger for someone in recovery.

Even if you are technically not alone this Valentine’s Day, maintaining your sobriety can seem isolating and may even make you feel like an outsider during holiday celebrations. If you feel this way, there are many ways to make the most of Valentine’s Day, regardless of your current circumstances.

Although spending Valentine’s Day sober can be difficult, it can also be a holiday that is full of joy and gratitude. If you’re in recovery, Valentine’s Day is an excellent opportunity to recognize all the continuous support and love your friends and family members have provided over the years. Whether you decide to celebrate it or not, here are a few tips to help you have a happy, healthy, Valentine’s Day in recovery.

Valentine’s Day in Recovery: When You’re In Rehab

Spending your first Valentine’s Day in rehab can be difficult, but it’s a great opportunity to focus on learning how to love yourself. Drug and alcohol abuse prevents you from loving yourself and others well. But as you work through your drug and alcohol rehab programme, you’ll have opportunities to learn about self-care, forgive yourself for your behavior in the past, and move forward as you prioritize self-care in recovery.

On Valentine’s Day this year, one way you can spread love is by speaking words of affirmation to yourself and your peers, such as “I am worthy of living a healthy, happy life in recovery.” or “You are doing an amazing job. Keep up the hard work!”

Valentine’s Day in Recovery: When Your Loved One is in Recovery

If this is your first Valentine’s Day with someone in recovery, things may feel very fragile. You may be uncertain about the status of your loved one’s recovery and unsure of how you can support him or her while still enjoying Valentine’s Day together.

Although there may be past hurts, focusing on rebuilding the relationship may keep you both from lingering on the past. One way you can do this is by starting fresh with a new tradition, such as writing each other love letters, re-watching a favorite rom-com together, or hiking to a romantic spot with a view. To avoid miscommunications or misunderstandings about how you wish to spend the day, verbalize your support and affection or use written words or positive actions to communicate how you feel.

Valentine’s Day in Recovery: When You’re Newly Sober and Single

Just because you recently got sober and you’re spending Valentine’s Day single doesn’t mean you have to be lonely. Although you may long for a romantic relationship, embracing relationships with friends, family, and your peers in recovery can lift your spirits and remind you of all the support and love you already have.

Invite a friend to go to the gym with you, spend the day with your parents, or cook a homemade meal with your roommate. Investing in these relationships can help you establish healthy and genuine social connections that are mutually enjoyable.

Although it can be difficult, avoid the temptation to compare your life to others’ and remember that you are a work in progress just like everyone else. Wherever you find yourself this Valentine’s Day, remember that you are loveable and loved. If you think you might need a reminder next year, take a few minutes to write yourself a letter full of positive affirmations that you can open next year on February 14th.

Valentine’s Day in Recovery: When You’re Newly Sober and Dating

Dating in early recovery isn’t always recommended, but if you choose to do so, you may want to talk with your sponsor, sober mentor, or house manager for accountability purposes. When planning a date, consider your triggers and avoid certain situations that may make staying sober more difficult, such as bars or concerts. Choose an activity that is mutually enjoyable and clearly communicate all expectations.

Some safe, sober ideas for a Valentine’s Day date include:

  • Enjoy dinner and a movie

  • Take an exercise class or art class together

  • Cook a homemade dinner at home

  • Go for a hike or plan a camping trip

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