Tuesday May 23rd 2017

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Sober Valentine’s Day: Date ideas for those in addiction recovery

You don’t have to spend a fortune to give your best on Valentine’s Day. After all, it’s a day to share connection and perhaps create some new memories with the person you care about.

But what can you do if you or your date are in addiction recovery? What does a successful sober date look like?

No need to panic! You can plan a fun, sober, and romantic date for your valentine by following our ideas and date tips, here. But don’t stop there! We welcome your sober date ideas and invite your questions in the comments section at the bottom of the page. In fact, we’ll respond to you personally if you leave us a message. :)

Valentine’s day in early addiction recovery

REMEMBER WHILE YOU DATE: You and your sobriety come first!

Addiction specialists suggest that Valentine’s Day may not be the right time for people in early addiction recovery to look for love. In fact, getting involved in new relationships is not recommended during the first year of recovery. A relationship may shift your focus from the inner work into outer drama…so focus on what is of utmost importance for you at this time. Moreover, most people are surrounded with everyday stressors and triggers in early recovery: paying rent, getting to meetings, dealing with problems at work. Adding the stress of a possible heartbreak can cause great damage to your progress in recovery, and even lead to relapse.

If you are looking for ways to navigate new or old relationships in addiction recovery, you should check out our Relationships in Addiction Recovery EBOOK.

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Valentine’s day blues and struggles

It’s not hard to get pulled in by the hype of the commercial storm that surrounds February the 14th every year. Sometimes, holidays like this make us struggle to pull ourself out. And, it can be especially difficult for individuals in addiction recovery who are trying to maintain their sobriety and build relationships.

The most important thing to remember is that you should take all the pressure off yourself. You can also seek support and talk to people you can trust, such as:

  • a friend or close family member
  • a licensed counselor
  • a psychologist
  • a psychiatrist
  • a spiritual leader
  • a sponsor

February 14 Dating in addiction recovery

Once you’ve got a year of sobriety under your belt and want to impress that special someone, it is possible make Valentine’s Day special. Be sure to keep sight of all the progress you’ve made in your addiction recovery…and to put recovery first!

Here are seven (7) ideas to get you started on a super sober date.

TIP #1: Go for the classic dinner-and-a-movie date.

Movie theaters don’t usually sell alcohol, so this is a good start. But before you go… talk about which movie you or your date would like to see. To make it more interesting and fun for both of you, explore a genre that you don’t normally go for. This may give you some interesting topics to talk about over dinner later.

Think about reversing the order of the date. Go for the movie first and THEN dinner. You will probably spend at least 2 hours at the movies… if we count arriving a bit early to get popcorn and the duration of the movie itself.  At the restaurant, you and your date can order non-alcoholic drinks right away. Sparkling water + fruit juice is a nice option (unless it’s a trigger). Water, of course. Plus, another useful trick to have up your sleeve is to turn your wine glass over if the table is pre-set. The server will read this non-verbal sign and take the glass away without offering alcohol.

TIP #2: Pack a picnic or take a long walk by water.

Water is known to be calming for the mind and body. Plus, beaches are as romantic as can be! But, a park or any grassy area in your living area will do (caution: no trespassing!). This date idea allows you to have special quiet bonding time, and is a great excuse to get outside and enjoy the weather if the climate allows it.

Planing a picnic is very simple. Grab a blanket, prepare a picnic basket with your favorite fruits, sandwiches and snacks. Add a bottle of sparkling water or other non-alcoholic beverage and you are ready to go. You can also prepare a relaxing music mix on your phone to make the whole Valentine’s Day experience even more special.

TIP #3: Why not have a day date? 

Going out on a day date can be a really fun experience. Check out local funky hangout, points of interest, and even the local Zoo. Your goal? Find a place to visit for people big and small. On top of occupying your attention, local attractions don’t generally sell alcohol. As you walk around, you will be learning… and have the time to talk and connect.

Afterwards, you can go to a restaurant or grab something easy to eat at a snack bar or a café. It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy. After all, enjoying a good sandwich or a piece of fruit cake while sipping on good coffee or ice teas, and talking about life can make the a date perfect.

TIP #4: Go hiking or camping! You can enjoy the hill view and cook s’mores over a fire.

Many people in addiction recovery make exercise and eating healthy a part of their new life. If your date wants to get outside and is comfortable with the difficulty level of the hiking trail (this is a date after all) you can have a blast enjoying the scenery and chit-chatting.

If you have all the necessary things to go camping, it can be an excuse to spend some time just the two of you together surrounded by nature. Who doesn’t like cooking s’mores by a camp fire, bonding, and telling funny stories?

TIP #5: Feeling artsy? Go to a museum or sign up for an art class.

If you have a museum close to your living area and want to see some interesting exhibitions, then this casual date idea is a good way to spend some time with your valentine and get to know more about each other’s interests. Whether you are into art, history, science, or dinosaurs, a museum can be the perfect spot to find some common interests and share your thoughts.

Some towns may not have a museum, but there sure is an arts and crafts class that’s not a long drive away. You can go make pottery, join a candle making class, paint, do origami, create your own mosaic, and the list goes on and on. The best thing is, you both have something that you’ve made with your own hands to take back home and to remind you of this Valentine’s Day date.

TIP #6: If you feel like staying home, maybe you can cook together and have a movie marathon.

Who says having a good date on Valentine’s Day has to involve going out? Instead, you can stay in and cook. Cooking is an activity in which you both have to work together from start to finish: choose the recipes, buy ingredients, plan the preparation, prep it, cook it, and indulge in your tasty creation at the end. Plus, when you are not in a restaurant there is no alcohol to be offered, so the temptations are eliminated.

Then, if you both have a favorite show you can watch or re-watch episodes. Or, pick out a new movie. You really don’t need much more than popcorn, sparkling water with lemon, and snuggling.

TIP #7: Take a day trip and go visit a place you always talked about visiting some day.

This can be any place you always wish to go, but there is something that always happens and you change plans.

Invite your valentine. Pack your bags. Go tour and explore. Just go!

Addiction recovery and Valentine’s day questions

Do you have any questions? Maybe you’d like to share a sober Valentine’s Day date idea or a personal experience with others? Please feel free to post your questions and comments in the designated section at the bottom of the page. We appreciate your feedback and try to answer personally and promptly to all legitimate inquiries.

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