When you are entering rehab, thoughts of sex are likely far off. You are trying to survive and get well. However, as you go through residential rehab treatment and enter the relapse prevention phase, thoughts of sexual health in recovery from addiction may pop up. Does your partner still see you the same way or do you still feel the same about your spouse? Will sex still be the same when you are free of addiction? Crestview Recovery can help you answer these questions.
Dealing with a Background of Sexual Abuse
For women in rehab, sexual health in recovery can mean something entirely different than it does for men. During times of being “high,” a woman may have suffered rape because she was unable to consent. Maybe she sold her body to get money for drugs. This violation becomes glaringly apparent when the numbing of the drugs is gone.
In this situation, trauma therapy must incorporate discussions about sexual decision-making. Helping a woman to regain a feeling of control over her body and dealing with the past is crucial. From there, it’s possible to explore healthy ways of relating sexually to others.
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:
- Prevent 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.
- Rebuild a healthy self-image. 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.
- Open avenues of communication. 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.
- Prepare for sex without a “high.” 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, her or she will need to explore healthy sensual behavior.
- Understand the physical ramifications of drug abuse. 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. This is usually the case when the deep-seated problems date back to times before addiction. Overcoming these marital problems is possible through family therapy.
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.