Sex in the midst of addiction crosses many dangerous lines. It’s the perfect storm: you’re feeling good off a substance high already, which feeds into sex’s natural feelings of euphoria and intoxication. The exponential effect is great for a while; unfortunately, what goes up must always come down. That conversely exponential downward spiral can make recovery seem particularly dry.

Adjusting to Sex While Clean and Sober - It's Based on Relativity

“Sex doesn’t feel as good when I’m clean and sober. So why even bother quitting?”

It’s a legitimate question. It’s also a dilemma that has been dealt with by every addict in recovery, so no matter how insurmountable it may seem, just remember: you’re not alone. Millions of people have had this problem and agreed that sobriety is, in fact, worth it.

Theory of Relativity

While Einstein’s equation refers to physics, understanding relativity is quite useful to addicts in recovery as well. As a rule, drugs and alcohol warp people’s sense of reality. This is why being drunk or high is referred to as “under the influence”: no matter how you romanticize it, the fact remains that your judgment is impaired. It is only natural that sex feels better to addicts while they are active in their disease. Their barometer for what’s real is simply off-kilter.

But this is not a holistic picture. Sexuality naturally evolves and changes in a person’s lifetime. Contrary to what one may expect, getting older usually correlates to a higher degree of sexual satisfaction. This is a clear indication that the body’s innate measures of energy and vitality do not directly control the quality of a person’s sex life. Sounds like good news for addicts in early recovery who feel like crap most of the time, whoo hoo!

Credible State of Mind

Everything is relative. Adjusting to sober sex requires the understanding that the diseased mind of an addict does not give fair weight to sober experiences. In a way, drugs and alcohol act as rose-colored glasses that simultaneously toxify the user and make everything around them seem great. Sex included.

But it’s a lie. Sex under the influence seems better because the addict’s body has built a tolerance to their drug of choice. That means the baseline for ALL experiences has changed, and not for the better.

Biology is On Your Side

The sober body was built to enjoy sex. We happily acknowledge that sex in early recovery is noticeably less exciting for some people. That’s because the body and mind are still seeking their natural equilibrium. But once the toxins are flushed and the body is able to feel normally again, it will be ready to process the natural experience while clean and sober.

Feelings Aren’t Just for Women

The hormones of men and women trigger different reactions to sex. That said, emotions are not always interpersonal. General feelings of wellness and euphoria are gender-neutral when under the influence. A lot of the reason sex SEEMS to feel better when high and/or drunk is that the mind is already bombarded with unnatural amounts of endorphins, serotonin, etc (depending on the person’s drug of choice). Since everything is relative, it’s reasonable to assert that the sex itself is not better. It’s just the diseased mind of an addict noticing their high.

A Few Suggestions

Navigating your sex life in early recovery is not always easy. There may be challenges ahead that will test your resolve and perhaps tempt relapse. Here are some tips going forward that can help foster a healthy mind and environment in recovery.

Safe Sex is a Healthy, Natural High

There’s a reason sex has its own group of addicts. Count yourself lucky that your drug of choice is a foreign substance that you can choose to quit! That said, sexuality can be a gift to recovering addicts and alcoholics if practiced responsibly. It’s a way to remind yourself that life can be pretty dang awesome without resorting to substances. Just allow your body the time to adjust to feeling normal. Clean and sober sex is superior because (1) you can actually focus on the act and (2) you have full control of your body and faculties.

One of the most common pieces of advice you’ll find in recovery groups is to avoid new relationships for the first 1-2 years of sobriety. This is a period in time where your mind is particularly volatile and unstable, and you don’t want to initiate any major life changes that will create stress. Choose alternatives as appropriate to your personality and lifestyle.

Safe Sex: Don’t Complicate a Good Thing

Always remember to practice safe sex. Wear protection, get tested for STIs, don’t get into dangerous situations, and all that good stuff.

Adjusting to Sex in Recovery

Clean and sober sex is definitely a goal worth aspiring to. But you can only get there if you have started or are prepared to begin your recovery. If you or a loved one are ready to get help, contact our addiction specialists: 855-737-7363