Starting a Family after Addiction
You have made the commitment to sobriety and have been living clean and sober for quite some time now. As you have moved through the process, you feel the stirrings of your heart to begin a family. You know you are clean and are not worried about bringing the addiction into this process but wonder when the best time to start a family may be. Understanding your place in the addiction recovery process, your support systems, and health in a variety of areas will enable you to make a decision that is best for your future.
The Addiction Recovery Process
The success of starting a family can greatly depend on where you are in your addiction recovery. As most twelve step or similar programs recommend, major lifestyle changes should not be made for at least the first year. Although this may seem like a long stretch of time, reaching this major milestone is extremely significant. Although many decisions have to be made during this first year, including many of the steps that have led to your recovery, it is the situational decisions in your life to which this recommendation usually refers. Divorce, moving, starting a new job, and certainly beginning a family would fall under this suggestion. The process of sober living is a daily adjustment to your life. You will be learning how to live and how to think through the lens of sobriety. Dedicating twelve months to recovery before making the decision to add an additional life into your family will leave you in a place to make better and healthier decisions for the future and for all those involved.
Beginning a family is no easy feat. You will need many support systems in order to transition from living independently to a life with new dependents. The addition of a new family member can be joyous but it can also be exhausting and stressful. You will need solid support systems in place before you begin the process. Know whom you will be able to rely upon for assistance in a variety of ways. Who will you trust to babysit occasionally? Even new parents need a break every now and then to take some time for themselves. When you become stressed or do not know how to handle something, where will you turn? How will you balance your schedule of support group meetings, which will continue to be necessary, along with the schedule of your newly extended family? While these are not impossibilities, thinking through the steps ahead of time will be significant in your success.
Understanding the various stages of your health is also an important aspect of your success in starting a family. Of course, your health extends far beyond the physical element. You will also need to evaluate your emotional, spiritual, and financial health, as all will be greatly impacted. Spend some time in deep thought regarding each of these areas. Have honest discussions with your spouse or significant other as their own health in each of these areas will also have significant impact on your decision.
While you are still contemplating the choice to begin a family, this may be the perfect time to make early decisions for preparation. Perhaps you will need to make changes to your home environment. Or, you may need to purchase a vehicle that will be more appropriate for your family. It is never too early to begin some of the small preparation steps. Additionally, you may want to consider adopting a pet into your family. Although pets are not children, they do require similar responsibilities in terms of feeding them, training them, and tending to their needs. Like a child, your pet may be fully dependent upon you for everything when they first come into your home. You can take this opportunity to decide if you are truly up to the task of caring for someone completely reliant on you in addition to caring for yourself.
Starting a family is a monumental life moment. It will be completely life altering and will need to be something you are prepared for. But, it is something you can successfully achieve. You do not have to put your dreams of having a family on hold because you are a recovering addict. Instead, you simply have to find the best time, the best support, and be able to evaluate your overall health when determining when best to begin.