The after effects of alcohol or chemical addiction can be traumatizing and may create fluctuating emotions and thoughts about sex, love, friendships, and how one goes about living without the negative substance and possibility the people connected to the source of addiction.
Crystal meth was my drug of choice for many years, and although I did not lose my apartment, job, nor did I lose lots of money; my functional drug addiction destroyed my connection with the world. It distorted my reality so much that my recovery has been more challenging than ever.
Sober for more than five years, with an occasional backslide here and there; I become more and more aware of my triggers and why a person in recovery struggles daily and challenged with picking up the pieces and letting go of their missteps in life.
It’s not uncommon for someone to relapse after years of being in recovery. Personally, for me, I started drugs because I was lonely. But it goes deeper than that. The gay community, although a fun-loving culture I am a part of, sadly is not always the most accepting group of people, particularly gay men.
Racism is ignored within the gay male community and overshadowed because as an “LGBTQ community” we are discriminated against collectively based on our sexuality. Sadly, the lack of acceptance from a community of white guys, who made it clear, “I don’t date black men” was when the start of my loneliness began. I would hang out with the “bad guys” because they were hot, sexy and the vision in my head of the fantasy man I dreamt of hooking up with or even dating when I was sober. Unfortunately, the type of guys (white guys) I was interested in was not interested in dating a black man who likes white guys. My attraction for middle-American looking guys didn’t end up working out the way I had hoped.
Drugs opened a pathway for me to meet the type of guys who rejected me when I was sober. “Of course, combining sex and drugs has been around as long as sex and drugs themselves, long before #chemsex. And for a good reason, it would seem. Some people mix drugs with sex just because it allows their minds to better connect with their bodies, enabling them to feel sex more keenly and have bigger, better, and more orgasms. Others use drugs to become disinhibited enough to have the sex they’d be too ashamed to enjoy sober.” (Is Sex Better on Drugs – https://www.thrillist.com/sex-dating/nation/best-drugs-for-sex-tested).
Fragile issues of love and relationships AND sex are very likely to come up as an addict moves into and through recovery. It’s going to happen. These problems have to do with sexuality and torn self-esteem. In a 2010 article, GoodTherapy.org reported “Sexual fears and insecurities may be the force that drives a user to drink or use drugs in the first place. For example, many professionals point to early sexual abuse as the place where some anxieties began. It has been recognized that childhood sexual abuse is a risk factor in drug dependence. Research indicates that, of all the people in treatment, about half have been raped or abused, while a third are victims of incest. So, as practitioners, we have to recognize that sexual abuse may be damaging to feelings of self-worth, which, in and of itself, is a risk factor for drug use and ill-treatment.”
They go on to describe ways addicts can get through the fears and insecurities that may bubble up:
1. Talk about the original sense of guilt and anger to healing. Users need to learn to recognize the patterns of feelings, sexual or otherwise, that drive them to drink or abuse substances. Only then are they ready for new relationships, or of rekindling an old one.
2. A recovering addict also needs to move slowly, whether in a new or old relationship. Concentrate on building self-confidence and self-image, first, before building up a sex life. For many, it may be a good idea to wait six months, or even a year, before beginning a new sexual relationship. Couples should focus, first, on sharing time and feelings together before jumping back into bed and their old, unstable, erratic sex life. Sex therapy is also a good starting point.
3. Start over by focusing on actually learning about your body and feelings. The goal here is to help ease fears that sexual feelings are abnormal or strange. It is important to take the time to learn (or re-learn) what one likes, sexually. Couples should focus on sensuality and should take the pressure off of sex and orgasm for a while and, instead, do things like taking bubble baths, sensual massage, and mutual masturbation, and openly communicate with each other about sex. It is important to recognize that, just like there’s more to alcoholism or drug recovery than not drinking or using, there’s more to sexuality than just sex.
In my recovery, I have struggled with fears of having sex. My sex life had been so tied up with drugs I’ve been unwilling to have sex without using. So I just don’t have sex. Addicts will very likely need to rewire their ideas about sex and learn ways of developing intimacy vs. worrying about sexual performance. By taking the time to talk openly about sex, sexual interests and sexual fears those working on recovery will develop the solutions to moving forward. Once you identify your triggers related to sex, such as feelings of loneliness or a fear of having sex without drugs you’ll be able to start to discover intimacy, satisfaction, and a strong self-image.
Source: Dealing with Sex in Drug and Alcohol – GoodTherapy.org