Relationships in Recovery: Why Is Dating Discouraged in Early Recovery?relationships in recovery

The advice to not date or become involved with someone intimately during early recovery is a frequent point of resistance.  People involved in 12-step programs often rely on the “one-year rule” for guidance.  In other words, it is recommended that someone not date during their first year of recovery.  Because there is a lot of resistance to this guideline and the results from dating can be detrimental to one’s sobriety, let’s look at some of the important reasons WHY dating during the first year of recovery is not advised.

1.  Me Time

The focus of early recovery should be laying a strong foundation for long-term sobriety and this involves searching deep within ourselves.  Personal reflection and self-analysis is an important step to knowing ourselves and learning to accept and love ourselves.  Our work to understand ourselves can be undermined or become convoluted if our efforts are distracted by a budding romance.

New romances are not only distracting they can quickly become all-consuming.  They may initially feel great, but it doesn’t take long before we find ourselves slipping into old patterns, habits and behaviors.  It also becomes very difficult to sort out what are my issues to work on and what are someone else’s.

You can truly only love someone to the extent that you love yourself.  Recovery is essentially about finding and loving yourself and this cannot be achieved through dating another person.  Romantic relationships can be appealing because they can temporarily numb pain we may feel from facing our personal hardships, behaviors and past.  Cultivating love, respect, and care for yourself is the key to establishing healthy and lasting relationships down the road.  People sometimes are lulled into thinking they are healthier because they are in a new relationship, but there is no short cut to becoming healthy.  It involves time with yourself.

2.  It’s an Attachment Problem

Early recovery can be the most uncomfortable time period of our lives because our attachment for coping with the world (our drug) has been stripped away. In addition, we often need to strip out many other areas from our using past: old using friends, unhealthy places to live, unhealthy past activities and just about every other aspect of our former using-lives.  This is a lot of change. Many feel a need to attach to another person for comfort, instead of working on self-regulation and healthy ways coping with this change.

Often the attachment to a new person can feel incredibly strong and lasting. But because it does not have a strong foundation, it is a really false sense of comfort that does not last.  Drugs can be viewed as a maladaptive attachment attempting to fill a void of unmet needs.  Jumping into a dating relationship will only perpetuate the cycle of unmet needs.  This is because the recovering individual doesn’t have the time and space to see what their unmet needs are or how to approach them appropriately.

In early recovery, it is important to recognize the relationship we had with our addiction.  Addiction was almost certainly the main focus of our lives.  There were times we may have felt joy, relief, comfort and understood.  And of course there were times we felt abused, helpless and a victim to our addiction.  We form a strong attachment to our addiction.  When the drug is removed, it is comparable to a romantic break-up and therefore it needs to be grieved as such.  We put a lot of time, money, energy and emotion into our addiction and it is important to grieve the loss of all these things. Sitting with this emotional withdrawal or void is uncomfortable, so people will sometimes jump into a romantic relationship as a way to fill the void.  Similarly, people will replace drugs with sex as a way to achieve a quick fix.  The same patterns and behaviors that were used to get and use drugs are often used to get romance or sex.  When this happens, one addiction has been traded for another.  We can only break free when we understand what is underneath our addictive behaviors.

3.  People, Places and Things

Early in recovery our new way of thinking and coping with the world is new and immature and therefore we are often inclined to rely on old behaviors and old ways of thinking. This is especially apparent when we notice the type of partners we choose to date in early recovery.  At this point, our lives are more defined by the addiction world than the recovery world.  It is no coincidence that people in early recovery tend to be attracted to people still using or equally new to recovery.  Also, because our relationship with our addiction was one-sided in favor of the addiction, we often see people getting involved in relationships that are just as one-sided. These relationships are often filled with drama and chaos.  It is common for those new-to-recovery to become over-involved and hyper-focused on the new relationship.

When healthy coping skills are under-developed, we run the increased risk of relapse.  If the relationship doesn’t work out and the couple breaks up, the main coping skill people choose tends to be the substance of their addiction.

Final Thoughts

The underlying concern for dating in early recovery is that it provides a distraction from the real task at hand, which is working on ourselves.  This may be confusing because a strong recovery program involves sober connections and community.  However, it is easy to mistake vulnerability and intimacy of  the sober community for romance and sex.  If you are contemplating dating in early recovery ask yourself if you are at the place you want to be and if the role was reversed would I be someone I would want to date right now.  If the answer is no, don’t take it as shaming or discouraging news, take it as a reminder that you are learning and growing into the person you want to become.  It won’t be long before you ARE the person you would want to date.


Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

New Hope Recovery Center is located in Chicago and offers individualized alcohol and drug addiction treatment in a loving supportive environment.  Contact New Hope Recovery Center at 888-707- 4673 (HOPE).

sober thanksgivingWe are entering the time of year when parties, family get-togethers and excessive eating, drinking and merriment can create difficult or at least tricky situations for those in recovery.  Thanksgiving in particular can be a challenging time.  Family interaction is often expected and it may be the first family get-together in a while.

6 Tips for Having a Happy and Sober Thanksgiving:

1. Review the Past.  If you are planning to be with family or friends during Thanksgiving, reflect on past Thanksgivings.  Were they stressful?  Was there a great deal of drinking and partying?  Did family members fight or bring up and/or re-inflict old wounds?  Did you feel comfortable and at ease?

By reviewing the past, you can look for things that may temp you to drink or use again.  When and where do you think your buttons will be pushed? What situations or encounters led you to feel stressed, angry, sad or hurt in the past? Just because you are sober doesn’t mean that things will be drastically different.  Hope for the best, plan for the worst and be ready for everything.  Being prepared is the best thing you can do.

2. Plan Your Entrance.  Now that you have reviewed where you could feel stressed, anxious, irritated/angry or triggered, plan how you will attend.  Is it better to go early and get comfortable?  Is it better to go later, to avoid certain encounters?  Is it better to go with a sober friend or family member?

Perhaps it is better to not attend at all?  If that is the case, is there a way you can communicate with your family to express your thankfulness for them, but yet keep yourself safe?  Look for sober friends you can celebrate with.  If you decide that it would not be healthy for you to be around family and old friends during Thanksgiving, plan something special with others. 

 3. Plan Your Exit.   Before you go, plan on how long you think you can comfortably stay.  If you know from past experience that staying for a full day, or a full holiday weekend will be too much or dangerous to your sobriety, then plan your visit accordingly.  Let your family know about your plans ahead of time.  This will help you set realistic expectations and allow others to understand your plans.  Be prepared to leave even earlier than you may have originally planned if you are triggered or feel unmanageable stress, anxiety or anger.  It is acceptable to explain that you feel you need to leave early.

 4. Have Support Ready.   Let your support group and sober friends know about your plans and any difficulties that may arise or did arise in the past.  Tell them your travel days and times.  Have a person available you can call if things get difficult.  Or perhaps ask someone to go with you.

If you decide that you cannot safely attend your family’s Thanksgiving, see what sober events are available near you.  Thanksgiving can be triggering even without family and old friends around.  It can also be lonely…most restaurants and stores (although fewer each year) are closed.  So plan ahead to share your Thanksgiving with others.  One great way to spend Thanksgiving is to volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter for the day.  It can be an incredibly moving experience that will fill you with gratitude.

 5. Be Honest and Realistic.  It's best to be open about your addiction and recovery with family and friends.  At a minimum be clear about your boundaries and rules.  At a minimum tell your family that you are not drinking or using during the visit.

You should feel wonderful about your sobriety, however, don’t expect that everything within your family will be drastically different immediately.  People change and evolve in small steps, so look for tiny increments of change.  Sure, you are different, but give your family time to actually see and experience the difference.  Seeing truly is believing for family and friends, especially those you may have hurt in the past.

 6. Be Grateful and Enjoy – Now that you have planned ahead, you can relax and enjoy your Thanksgiving.  Relaxing during a holiday isn’t always easy, so remember to breathe deeply.  Thanksgiving is a holiday dedicated to being grateful, so think of at least three things you are grateful for, and try not to stop with three.  Our entire world changes when we see the world through gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you or a loved one would like help with an addiction, you can contact New Hope Recovery Center for assistance.  888-707-4673 or

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center


Its that time again for Chicago’s only LGBTQ recovery weekend. It begins August 15th and continues until August 17th at the Center on Halsted. Chicago Roundup, Inc. is a volunteer-based organization for the celebration of 12-step recovery from alcohol and drug addiction within the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community. This organization produces engaging events in a safe environment, affording participants the opportunity to have a spiritual awakening.

The Main Event - We Can Go Anywhere

  • Is a weekend-long gathering of LGBT’s celebrating recovery and those interested in finding out what a life of recovery has to offer.
  • Provides thought-provoking panel discussions, engaging speakers, pure entertainment and fellowship opportunities intended to enhance your spiritual, emotional and sober life.
  • Offers the perfect opportunity to meet other recovering people from all of the world and make some wonderful new friendships in the process.
  • Is hosted in the heart of Boystown at the largest LGBT Community Center in the Midwest, Chicago’s state-of-the-art Center on Halsted.
  • Begins on Friday, August 15th and ends on Sunday, August 17th, 2014.

This collection of so many different experiences and perceptions makes our own recovery that much stronger.

Go to the Chicago RoundUp registration page to for further details and to register for this serenity filled weekend.

New Hope Recovery Center is the presenting sponsor this year, and we couldn't be more proud to help support such a wonderful organization.

New Hope Recovery Center is an alcohol and drug rehab treatment center located in Chicago, IL. We provide Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient, and Aftercare. We also have a LGBTQI specific addiction treatment program entitled "New Hope With Pride.” We offer personalized, holistic treatment by examining the whole person: mind, body and spirit. Our small intimate setting caters to your specific needs and we provide place of support, nurture and safety leading to hope and healing.
We believe length of treatment directly impacts the chances for long-term recovery. For this reason we offer a variety of levels of care to better equip an individual to create the life they desire. Our caring and experienced clinical staff provides the emotional, physical and spiritual healing necessary to identify the core issues that underlie the addiction and in turn create an extraordinary life of productive, balanced sober living. 
For more information about New Hope Recovery Center please contact us at 773-883-3916 or check out our website

codependent addictionCodependency is a tricky term that is often used in everyday conversation.  Although broader definitions explain the term as a general personality type, one of the original uses of codependency was the idea of a codependent individual having an unhealthy relationship with (often the spouse or child of) an alcoholic or drug addicted person.

A Codependent Personality exhibits several symptoms:

  • A compulsive and unrelenting need to be needed
  • Low self esteem
  • Putting others’ needs first, to the detriment of oneself
  • Deep fear of abandonment and rejection
  • Extreme emotions
  • Strong need for approval or recognition
  • A need to control others
  • Difficulty in adapting to changes and making decisions
  • Passive-aggressive style of communication
  • Poor boundaries and difficulty saying “no”

A person demonstrating a tendency toward codependency will exhibit these symptoms, regardless of whether or not he/she is in a codependent relationship. It is not uncommon to see these patterns emerge across many relationships and settings.  For example, a codependent person may have trouble saying no to a boss, may be preoccupied with needing friends to be happy all of the time, may have trouble telling a parent or partner when she is angry or frustrated and may have extreme difficulties setting limits with his or her child, partner, family or friends.  For a codependent person, these symptoms will be seen across nearly all relationships and over an extended period of time/across a lifespan, unless there is treatment.

A Codependent Relationship can be identified by the following symptoms/patterns:

  • Unhealthy push/pull dynamics,
  • Passive pleasing vs. aggressive demands,
  • A sacrificing of one’s self for a relationship or another’s happiness, and
  • Continuing in a relationship that is not working due to the fact that neither party is willing to give up the security of it

Much of the literature that exists regarding codependency examines the specific dynamic between a codependent and narcissistic personality.  The traits exhibited by these personality types are magnets for each other, creating a balance that, while highly maladaptive and unhealthy, serve to meet the specific emotional needs of each person.   The more the codependent strives to please, caretake and meet the needs of his/her partner, the more the narcissistic individual will take. The narcissistic person needs to be catered to, cared for and put first as much as the codependent needs to care for, please, adore and be approved of.  Once the dynamic is in motion, it becomes highly addictive, and codependency can mirror any other addiction in its compulsive, progressive nature.

As with all addictions, codependency is seen as highly treatable.  The first step is to realize and accept that you are codependent.  Once denial is dealt with and one can come to terms with the maladaptive patterns of codependency, healing can begin and one can learn to seek healthier partners and improve existing strained and unfulfilling relationships with family, friends and loved ones.  12-Step programs such as Codependents Anonymous, Al-anon, Alateen and ACOA (adult children of alcoholics) are extremely helpful for providing the lifelong support and guidance needed to come to terms with and stop acting out the painful patterns and self-denying behaviors associated with codependency.  Codependents tend to be perfectionists and reluctant to ask for help, so if going to meetings is too big a step,  Melody Beattie has written several excellent books on codependency, including Codependent No More.  This can be a good starting point for your healing.

New Hope Recovery Center, Chicago’s premier alcohol and drug addiction facility, offers treatment to those addicted to drugs or alcohol and their families.  Our family programming allows families to see how addiction has impacted the entire family.  We encourage all family members to begin their own journey of healing.

If you or someone you love is affected by addiction, New Hope Recovery Center can help. Contact us at 773-883-3916 or

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

From all the research that has been done in the field of addiction over the past 30-40 years, we know several factors are involved in the development and continuance of addictive behavior.   Within the disease model of addiction, we understand the development of an addiction stems from the genes we have inherited.  Once these particular genes are activated, the disease progresses, from the point of onset to chronic and often fatal stages, unless it is treated.

Through this medical model, we learn that addiction is a biopsychosocial disease, with many factors contributing to the development of an addiction including our biology or genetics (bio); our thoughts, feelings and emotions (psycho); and our personal histories: the way we were raised, the environmental and cultural cues and messages we are exposed to (social).

Traditional learning theory (specifically operant conditioning) states that we tend to repeat behaviors that are pleasurable, thereby setting up a pattern of action, reward, repeated action.  Our brains are hard-wired to be able to learn this way, as it is critical for our survival.  For example, when we eat, dopamine is released in the brain, sending the message to repeat the behavior.  The concept of making associations is key to learning theory as are the concepts of reinforcement and punishment.   Getting a pleasurable response to a behavior (i.e. feeling satisfied after eating a tasty meal) increases the chance that we will seek opportunities to repeat the behavior.  On the contrary, being punished after doing a behavior (i.e. getting burned from touching a hot stove) drastically reduces the likelihood we will repeat the behavior.

When looked at against the backdrop of addictive behavior, it is easy to understand how one can get caught up in the cycle of repeating certain behaviors.  Although in time, addictive behaviors come with negative consequences (punishments), they are initially paired with the experience of pleasure.  In the case of certain drugs and routes of administration (for example shooting heroin), the behavior is paired with extreme pleasure.  In learning theory, the stronger the experience of pleasure, the stronger the association will be and therefore, the more likely one will want to repeat the behavior.

Classical conditioning, another subset of learning theory, can explain why formerly neutral stimuli become paired with the anticipation of pleasure as they become cues for the target behavior.  Environmental cueing and classical conditioning are theories that account specifically for relapse.  For example, a previously neutral or even negative stimulus such as a needle can in and of itself set off the phenomenon known as craving in an individual who is addicted to heroin or crystal methamphetamine.  In this case, one may experience intense psychological cravings without even coming into contact with the actual drug, only with the stimuli that have become paired associations with the drug.  These intense cravings can easily lead to relapse, if not addressed and dealt with properly.

Further, social learning theory, first explained by Albert Bandura in 1961, also explains addiction in terms of the biopsychosocial model.  Social learning theory posits that we can learn and make associations in a social context, simply by observing and imitating the behaviors of others.  The behavior(s) being observed are most likely to be repeated if reward is part of the observation.  For example, a person watching his/her peers drink, laugh and have fun will pair that association and increase the likelihood that he/she will attempt the behavior as well.  This is known as vicarious reinforcement.

With a pattern of addiction, social learning is often responsible for the initiation of drug/alcohol related behavior.  Once the addictive process has taken over, social factors fade out and become largely irrelevant to the maintenance of the addiction.  As the addiction progresses, opportunities to learn from healthy individuals engaged in healthy or adaptive ways of coping with stress become scarce, as healthy people begin to disengage from the addict and as the addict associates almost exclusively with other addicts or users.

Learning theory, including operant and classical conditioning and social learning can be applied to recovery as well.  In recovery, we re-learn the associations made in the brain during our addiction.  We pair craving and/or stress with picking up the phone and reaching out to our sober network.  We learn to avoid things, people or situations that will lead us back to using.  We make daily associations such as waking up in the morning and praying or meditating.  And finally, we learn socially acceptable behavior from our sober mentors, family and friends.

New Hope Recovery Center is an alcohol and drug rehab treatment center located in Chicago, IL. We provide Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient, and Aftercare. We also have a LGBTQI specific addiction treatment program entitled "New Hope With Pride.” We offer personalized, holistic treatment by examining the whole person: mind, body and spirit.  Our small intimate setting caters to your specific needs and we provide place of support, nurture and safety leading to hope and healing. If you are interested in a confidential assessment, or you know someone who is, call 888-707-4673 to talk to a staff member.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Women are the fastest growing segment of the population who abuse substances, according to several research studies that have been done recently. Although more women than ever are suffering from substance abuse disorders, there still is a small number of women who actually are receiving treatment for their addiction.

Substance abuse in women is often harder to detect than in men, and can easily be overlooked by friends, family members and health care providers.  For women, a fair amount of drinking is often done at home, during hours of the day when significant others and/or children are not at home. They are also less likely to have consequences such as a DUI because they are drinking at home. Three-martini playdates are often thought of as a fun way for stay-at-home mothers to blow off the steam of being with the kids all day and as a way to bond with other moms.

Further, many women turn to alcohol and drugs in order to be able to "do it all".  Use of stimulants can help a woman raise 3 kids, do well at a high powered job, keep up the household and still have energy for the gym on a regular basis.  On top of all of this, according to the research, women are more likely than men to see health care providers on a regular basis, thus increasing their access to prescription drugs with abuse potential.  Similarly, women are just as likely as men to drink or use drugs to medicate depression and anxiety, but are more likely than men to present to a mental health provider for help, resulting in more prescriptions for benzodiazepines and sleeping aids.

Substance abuse in women is often overlooked because the abuse itself is often normalized, seen as a response to today's pressures on women.  Often women recognize the fact that they are depressed or anxious and will go to treatment for the mood condition, unaware that substance abuse needs to be addressed as well.  If and when the need for substance abuse treatment is recognized, there are often gender specific barriers to women accessing and staying in treatment.  Some of the more common and problematic barriers are:

Fear- Women with children face the very real fear of being separated from or losing primary custody of their children.  In addition, image management, while also a factor for men, can deter a woman from entering treatment due to fears about what it will look like and what others will think about her.  Women also tend to have more fears about paying for treatment as compared to men, as many women do not earn as much as men, are underemployed or unemployed.

Childcare- It is well documented in the literature that women have a harder time accessing treatment if they are the primary caregivers of young children.  Treatment initiation and retention rates are much higher for women when there is some assistance with childcare and/or when the children are allowed to stay with the mother while she is in treatment.  For many women, paying for treatment along with childcare is too much of a financial burden.

History of Trauma-  For women with a history of physical and sexual trauma, entering mixed gender treatment is often a deterrent.  Programs that offer gender specific therapy groups and therapists equipped to handle trauma increase the success of a woman entering, staying in, and ultimately being successful in addiction treatment.

Psychological/Cultural- As stated above, women often view their own substance abuse as temporary, a crutch to help deal with the pressures of working, caring for children, caring for aging parents, running a household.  Though women are more likely than men to admit to needing help, they are less likely to actually go to treatment to get the help they need. Women also suffer from shame factors that are different from men's, and admit to higher levels of suicidal ideation and low self worth directly related to substance abuse and dependence.

The more that women's issues are well understood and addressed in treatment settings, the more successful a woman can be at obtaining help and achieving long term sobriety.  Addressing each woman's specific history thoroughly in an intake procedure can ensure that the right setting is available (i.e gender specific group for a woman with a lot of male perpetrated trauma vs. a mixed gender group for a woman needing to strengthen her platonic relationships with men).  It is also important for treatment providers to continue to address these needs along the course of treatment, as they may change, and for providers and treatment centers be sensitive to the needs of each woman individually, rather than generally as women.

New Hope Recovery Center offers gender specific programming. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment. Recovery is possible, let us help. Call us at 888-707-4673 or Email us at

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Want more information about treatment for specific populations? Check out our Journal for related articles or see below:

Lesbians Seeking Drug and Alcohol Treatment Alcohol and drug abuse is a major concern for individuals who identify as lesbian. A reportpublished by SAMHSA in 2011 found people who identify as LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) are significantly more likely than the general population to use and abuse drugs or alcohol. This same study found lesbians are significantly more likely than heterosexual women to drink alcohol heavily.

Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment for Latino and Hispanic People There are several things to be aware of when working with the Spanish communities for drug or alcohol addiction.  Cultural identity is one of the most important factors to keep in mind when working with the Spanish community.  For example: Cubans, Dominicans and Puerto Ricans identify themselves as Hispanics; while Central Americans and South Americans identify themselves as Latinos for the most part.

Senior Citizens: Alcohol Abuse and Misuse Seniors citizens and alcohol abuse and misuse is a serious problem. With the rapidly growing senior population, it is more important than ever to stay informed about the potential mental/behavioral health threats seniors are experiencing. People seldom think of alcohol abuse or misuse to be a problem in the senior population and rarely see that they are at risk of this behavior. There are major life changes affecting this population, which leads many seniors to begin abusing or misusing alcohol (and medications), even if they never showed signs of this behavior earlier in life.

Student Drug Abuse Warning Signs Young adults face many temptations and opportunities to use and abuse drugs and alcohol.  As a parent, it is important to allow for appropriate independence and growth for your student or young adult, but also to keep a watchful eye looking for warning signs or symptoms of drug or alcohol use/addiction. Part of growing up involves making mistakes and hopefully learning from them.  These teachable moments allow students and emerging adults to learn how to respond better in the future.

“Admitted to ourselves, another person and our higher power the exact nature of our wrongs”

The fifth step in addiction recovery is one of the steps that has a large impact on members. After completing the fourth step by doing a moral inventory, you now share it.  This is considered to be somewhat of a spiritual experience in itself. The fifth step simply put, is taking your fourth step and thoroughly going over it (sharing it) with your sponsor and your higher power, whatever that may be.

Prior to starting the fifth step in addiction recovery, it is important to thoroughly complete the fourth step. Once you have a properly prepared fourth step, it’s time to pick a date, a safe place and begin your fifth step with your sponsor. Going through your moral inventory can be a rigorous, emotional task that takes time and determination, but the reward is far greater than the struggle.

What does Step 5 do for our addiction recovery?

The fifth step gives us an opportunity to put to rest any resentments, fears or harms we have accumulated over the course of our using or drinking. The big book states that these are what lead to relapses, and until we say goodbye to them we will never fully recovery. In many ways, the fifth step is a way for us to say goodbye to our old behaviors as alcoholics and addicts and embrace our new sober way of living.

How do we do this?

We do this by being completely honest with ourselves, our sponsor and our higher power. We acknowledge what we have done, how it was wrong and why we did it. We see our part in what happened in the past.  This allows us to consider taking the next steps necessary to right the wrongs from our past.

The fifth step is not designed to make us feel guilt or shame for what we have done.  It’s there so we can let go of any feelings of guilt and shame we may have been holding on to. We do this in a safe place with a person we trust, and we process our entire fourth step during this time. We can only move beyond guilt and shame when we admit to our part in our wrongs.  By sharing, we remove the secrecy, shame and guilt we may feel.  Many feel liberated after completing the fifth step.

Once you finish this, it’s time to move on to the sixth step of addiction recovery, where we learn to accept our past. The fifth step is one of the more difficult steps to work through and brings up a mix of different emotions, but the necessity of this step cannot be stressed enough.  The rewards are certainly worth it.

New Hope Recovery Center is Chicago’s premier alcohol and drug addiction treatment facility.  New Hope With Pride  provides specific programming for our LGBT community members. If you would like guidance or help in handling your own addiction or that of a loved one, please contact us at 773.883.3916.

New Hope Recovery Center supports recovery addiction by offering a number of open meetings at our facility for those looking to participate in a 12 step program.

Written By: New Hope Recovery Center

Do you worry that you or a loved one is an alcoholic or is abusing alcohol? What factors distinguish the difference between a “social drinker” and someone that has a problem?

A huge factor in what people consider to be “normal” drinking is how they grew up and the habits of those around them. Just like many things in life, people choose to compare themselves to those around them. Although you or your loved one may feel your/their drinking is normal, it could be you have set your standard of “normal” based on who you/they surround themselves with. For example: If you grew up in a home where every family gathering involved large amounts of alcohol, family members falling asleep or blacking out, this may be considered normal to you. If your friends drink daily, it is more likely that you will feel that your drinking is normal since you only go out a few times a week.

The main focus in determining alcoholism is on how drinking affects your life, your activities and your body.

Behavior Symptoms of Alcoholism

  • Hiding your drinking, drinking alone or feeling guilty about your drinking
  • Drinking alcohol at times that are not considered “normal” (morning, during the day, before you go to work, etc)
  • Regularly feeling hungover in the mornings
  • Canceling plans or other responsibilities in order to hide your drinking
  • Failing to meet obligations, commitments and responsibilities due to drinking
  • Once you start drinking you cannot stop or control your drinking until you black out or people “cut you off”
  • Worry that your drinking affects others, such as your relationships with your family and/or friends
  • Drinking has impaired your ability to function in regular activities such as working, paying bills, keeping up with personal hygiene
  • Loss of interest in things that at one time brought you pleasure (reading, working out, traveling, volunteering)
  • Drink to “escape” issues, stress, problems, or feelings (such as sadness, loneliness, anxiety)
  • Keep or store alcohol in unusual places
  • Spend a lot of time and energy on drinking and recovering after drinking

Physical Symptoms:

  • Feel physically sick when you don’t drink (sweating, shaking, nausea)
  • Develop a tolerance, a need to drink more to feel drunk
  • Redness of the nose and cheeks
  • Swollen or bloated face
  • Retain water in your abdomen
  • Red and watery eyes
  • Poor complexion, large pores

New Hope Recovery Center  treats clients who suffer from alcohol and drug addiction problems. The lists above identify a partial list of symptoms of alcoholism or alcohol abuse and should only be used as a preliminary screening. If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, it is important to call and go in for an assessment with a professional.  All assessments at New Hope Recovery Center are confidential with no obligation for further treatment.

When people abuse alcohol or drugs, they are taking risks with their health.  With Drug and Alcohol abuse it does not take long for damage to occur to one’s brain, body, and mind.  Along with the substance itself, there are risks and dangers associated with the lifestyle of substance abusers.  Certain lifestyle risks include financial, relationship, security, career, and overall personal health. People who take risks with their sexual health will likely come into contact with sexually transmitted diseases which can prove to be quite dangerous.

A sexually transmitted disease (STD) is any disease transmitted by direct sexual contact. Common types of STDs include Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, Genital Herpes, Syphilis, HIV/AIDS, and Hepatitis.

Symptoms of STDs will depend on the type, but some of the most common symptoms people will experience include:

  • Burning sensation during urination
  • Discharge from the penis or rectum
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic Pain (menstrual like/female)
  • Testicular tenderness
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Warts at genital area
  • Itching at genital area

Due to the lifestyle, using addicts and alcoholics are more susceptible to STDs. There are a number of reasons for this, including when intoxicated, people are more likely to engage in unprotected sex. Alcohol/drugs lower inhibitions which may lead to promiscuity. Also, when intoxicated, physical symptoms will be less obvious and can easily be ignored. If on an Antibiotic to treat a STD, the use of substances may interfere with its effectiveness. Antibiotic compliance is less likely among substance abusers and the same goes for most medications.

Prevention is key, make sure to always use a condom for intercourse or dental dam for oral sex. Seek medical attention if any of the above symptoms are present. If unprotected sex has occurred, seek testing immediately. STD testing is simple, inexpensive or free, and confidential. Follow through with medical advice. (for example: repeat testing, full course of antibiotics, etc.)

If you or someone you love struggles with alcohol or drug abuse, seek help quickly. Alcoholism and Drug Addiction are diseases and gets worse over time. Seeking help or getting tested can be scary, but you don't need to do it alone. New Hope Recovery Center provides confidential assessments and treatment for substance abuse. We also have a nurse on staff who works closely with our Medical Director to handle medically related health concerns such as STDs. Contact New Hope Recovery Center by email or phone 773-883-3916.

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center

Love and relationship addiction are part of the behavioral or process addictions.  Like its cousins, food addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction, shopping and spending addiction, love addiction describes a set of behaviors and emotions that slowly progress and become unmanageable, often leaving an affected person depressed and suicidal.  In a society that glorifies love and romance, it is often difficult to know when one has crossed the line and is trapped in the undertow of this subtle but damaging process addiction.

Although sex and love addiction are often linked together, many experts agree that sex, romance and relationship addiction are actually three separate addictions.  While they share many of the same signs and symptoms, love and relationship addictions are often not as blatant and can be passed off as non-problematic, even by mental health professionals.  In addition, it is important to note that romance and relationship addiction are not the same as an addictive relationship, but rather romance and relationship addicts tend to form addictive relationships, as do other types of addicts.

Some of the hallmarks of love and romance addiction are as follows:

  1. Excessive neediness within relationships
  2. Excessive fantasizing about the object of one's affection (to the point of not being able to think of much else)
  3. Giving up one's own needs, opinions, desires and ideas in order to please the partner and out of fear of being emotionally abandoned
  4. Not being able to let go of a relationship or accept that it's over
  5. Placing physical attraction and/or sexual chemistry as a priority when considering a relationship with someone
  6. Feeling as if one's life is over and/or considering or attempting suicide when a relationship ends
  7. Inability to be alone, feeling uncomfortable in solitude or without a relationship
  8. Romantic intrigue, which is defined as flirting, innuendo or other manipulative behaviors designed to "hook" someone in
  9. Constantly pursuing and obsessing over emotionally unavailable people
  10. Neglecting family, friends, work or school because of a relationship

Many love addicts suffer from trauma or childhood abandonment issues.  Because these bonds were never properly formed or were prematurely cut off, an individual does not have a sense of secure attachment within him or herself and feels compelled to seek one out elsewhere.  The obsession with unavailable people is often a replaying of a familiar yet painful relationship within one's family of origin.  In addition, love and romance addicts have chosen dysfunctional relationship patterns as a "drug of choice" by which to blunt or dull boredom, psychological pain, depression, fears of abandonment and/or low self esteem.  Left untreated, like the chemical addictions, love and romance addiction will progress and worsen over time.  A preoccupation with fantasy leads to altogether real life consequences, such as the loss of meaningful relationships (both romantic and platonic), loss of job, financial difficulties and poor physical health.

Recovery from love and relationship addiction focuses on reclaiming one's sense of self, divorcing one's identity from his or her relationship status, defining healthy sexuality and learning how to cope with painful emotions.  Often a period of celibacy or abstaining from romantic relationships is necessary for a period of time in order to re-establish a healthy baseline of emotional functioning.  Many love and relationship addicts find a great deal of help with the use of a 12- Step program such as Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) or Codependents Anonymous (CODA).  Engaging in longer-term individual and group psychotherapy can also help tremendously with learning how to have healthy boundaries and confront one's fear of loss.

New Hope Recovery Center is a substance abuse treatment facility, but some people with an alcohol or drug addiction also suffer from some form of process addiction as well. We provide groups, counseling, and formulate treatment plans in order to address the process addictions while in treatment for the substance.

If you or someone you know struggles with a form of addiction, please call New Hope Recovery Center 773.883.3916 to talk to someone about what type of options there are for treatment. All calls and assessments are completely confidential. If you feel more comfortable emailing you may email us at

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center