Sex and Recovery by Kris Winslow, LMFT


Fear of ChangeThe people who seem to have the most success in their recovery are those who create balance in their lives. Recovery is a process of many healthy choices and changes. It is not about punishment or living in purgatory. Part of creating this balance involves for many figuring out what a healthy sex life looks like for them. This is a conversation that comes up often during both individual and couples therapy when one or both partners are in recovery.

For some people recovery is a reinvention of how they will experience sex. Some people have either never, or for quite some time, had sex sober. Some have an addiction that involves sex, and for them too it is important to learn about balance and sexuality. New boundaries will have to be established and new rules set in place. Sexual and romantic relationships can be linked to relapse in those who are sober, but they don’t have to be.

When a person is new in recovery, starting new sexual or romantic relationships should not really be an option. Many people can last for 30 to 90 days without beginning a new sexual or romantic relationship. If a person can’t, then that needs to be addressed during the course of his or her therapy. It also takes the focus away from treatment. People have a tendency to replace whatever their previous high was with the high of sex or new romance which becomes the new obsession. It takes away from that balance that the person is trying so hard to create.

Addressing thoughts and feelings about sex should be a natural part of recovery. Many times issues with self­esteem as well as sexual fears and insecurities can hinder treatment. Sexual abuse and trauma are things that need to be addressed while a person is engaging in the recovery process. Discovering or rediscovering intimacy should be an area of focus as well.


Elana Clark-Faler
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