Addiction is a vast and complex condition. Becoming dependant on addictive drugs causes people to lose their sex drive and rely only on drugs for a dopamine release. Using harmful amounts of psychoactive chemicals causes the brain to release a powerful and overwhelming rush of pleasurable neurotransmitters that are responsible for the positive effects of intoxication.
After extended, high-dose drug use, chemical changes in the brain’s pleasure and reward centers cause people to lose interest in the activities that make life worth living. If using drugs causes you to abandon the things that make life worth living, you can get them back through drug addiction treatment. It will take work, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
Addiction Changes Brain Chemistry
People who become addicted to drugs like fentanyl, meth, heroin report a better-than-sex euphoria that keeps them trapped in an endless cycle of relapse. These changes inhibit the release of neurotransmitters when the drug is not present. This means that the people and events that would usually bring your joy and satisfaction start to lose their luster and importance. In addition to the loss of sex drive, behavioral indicators of addiction include:
- Ignoring responsibilities
- Losing interest in activities
- Social isolation
Once a physical dependence develops, you may experience severe withdrawal symptoms within hours of your last use. However, as you go through treatment and enter the relapse prevention phase, the body beings to rebalance itself. Addiction impairs people’s judgment, making it easier to spend massive amounts of money and time acquiring drugs.
Dealing with a Background of Sexual Abuse
For people who have experienced sexual violence, trauma-informed therapy can help them work through trauma in a safe space to promote healing and growth. Drug addiction and sexual abuse often go hand in hand. People who are impaired are more vulnerable to rape and sexual assault. They are more likely to be ignored or blamed when they bring these concerns to authorities.
Connecting Sexual Health in Recovery to a Growing Self-Esteem
For others, this trauma may not be present. However, in the course of drug abuse, the person struggling with dependence suffers from decreasing self-esteem. Drug and alcohol abuse can affect every part of an individual’s life. Feelings of guilt, shame, and self-isolation stymie any thought of sexual encounters. During individual therapy for addiction, addressing relationship issues as part of relapse prevention is crucial for the following reasons:
Healing from Trauma Prevents Relapse
For an individual entering a life of newfound sobriety, there frequently also comes the desire for a romantic relationship. However, unless the individual has therapeutic guidance on the issue, it’s easy for him or her to get back in the rut of singles’ bars and parties. These are, of course, the worst possible methods for finding a romantic partner while in recovery.
Rebuilding a Healthy Self-Image Improves Decision Making
Just like self-esteem and self-confidence, self-image, too, can take a beating during addiction. Reversing the process takes time. Part of sex therapy is a discussion about reclaiming sexual health along with other lost parts of one’s self.
Opening Avenues of Communication Improves Relationships
When someone in recovery is married or has a partner, returning to a dysfunctional sexual relationship can establish new triggers. Triggers endanger long-term sobriety. Both parties need to learn how to communicate openly about sex, consent, old beliefs, and problems.
Preparing for Sex without Drugs
It’s not unusual for someone to feel awkward about sex because he or she has always had intercourse while on drugs. Separating sex from addictive behavior can be difficult. For an individual that falls into this category, these concerns can be discussed in therapy.
Understand the Physical and Psychological Ramifications of Drug Use Another aspect of sexual health in recovery focuses on the long-term effects of drug use on sexual function. For example, opioids and cocaine can lead to impotence. In many cases, these functions eventually return. However, for others, it may require additional therapy or medications.
Acknowledging a Possible Need for Future Relationship Counseling
It is important to note that a spouse or partner may not show interest in a sexual connection after reaching sobriety. Typically, there are relationship problems that may call for marriage counseling and similar interventions. The following treatment programs can help people improve their relationships and all other aspects of their lives:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavior therapy
- Marriage and family therapy
- Process group therapy
- Integrative therapy
- Trauma-informed therapy
Healing from mental health concerns or traumatic events that happened before a person developed an addiction is easier when you have a supportive community around you. While addiction has a negative impact on all aspects of a person’s life, it is possible to recover.
Focus on Sobriety and the Rest Follows
You don’t have to suffer any longer from the guilt and shame that’s robbing you of your self-confidence. Call Crestview Recovery at 866.262.0531 to learn how to enter rehab and improve your sexual health after addiction.
Since 2016, Dr. Merle Williamson, a graduate of Oregon Health Sciences University, has been the Medical Director at Crestview Recovery, bringing a rich background in addiction medicine from his time at Hazelden Treatment Center. He oversees outpatient drug and alcohol treatments, providing medical care, setting policies, detox protocols, and quality assurance measures. Before specializing in addiction medicine, he spent 25 years in anesthesiology, serving as Chair of Hospital Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee and Chief of Anesthesia at Kaiser Permanente. This experience gives him a unique perspective on treating prescription drug addiction.