Sex, sexual activity, and dating are controversial subjects, as well as controversial choices for men in their first year of recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. Generally, men are encouraged to abstain from sex, dating, relationships, or casual sexual activity for at least the first six months of their sobriety. Though some men encourage the male identity stigma of being able to have “sex with no feelings” most men realize that in early recovery, everything involves a lot of feelings all the time. Moreover, if men in early recovery are seeking out partners who are also in early recovery, the other person is likely to be experiencing a copious amount of feelings as well.
Feeling feelings, or not feeling feelings, is part of the allure of engaging in sexual activity during those early months. Sex, simply put, feels physically good and many of the emotions which can come from sex like love, desire, being wanted, being needed, feeling attached, connected, or close to someone else, also feel good. On the opposite end of the scale, there can be a dynamic where negative feelings brought about by sex, such as guilt or shame, can create a toxic feedback loop which provides some kind of pleasure to men. The acts of sex can be nothing more than a routine behavior of distraction, which can be fatally dangerous for men who are in desperate need of tuning into themselves and focusing hard on their recovery.
It isn’t uncommon for men to seek getting “high” through sex and sexual activity during treatment or the early months of recovery after treatment. Quickly, however, men can develop a compulsion for sex because their brain is still hardwired for the behavioral patterns of addiction. Are they addicted to sex or do they become sex addicts? By diagnostic criteria, men who are even compulsively engaging in sexual activity will not likely be addicted. What men do find themselves addicted to is avoiding the difficulties of early recovery and seeking relief from those difficulties through sexual activity. Letting go of another layer of distraction and avoidance will be a challenge but a possible one to overcome. As older members of the recovery community say, staying away from sex and dating in early recovery won’t be fatal, but getting involved in decision making you’re not ready for, can be.
Tree House Recovery of Orange County, California is a premier men’s addiction treatment facility that uses eight different modalities to help our men become the best versions of themselves they can be. We teach our men that every day of their journey is something to celebrate, and that recovery isn’t a sprint– it’s a marathon. By showing our men how to celebrate each day’s victories, we show them that self love isn’t about what we have or haven’t done. It’s about getting a little closer to where we want to be. To get started with Tree House Recovery, call us today at (503) 850-2474