When "under the influence," many people's judgment is impaired, which can result in affairs and promiscuity. Once an addict begins his recovery process, a lot of issues need to be sorted out regarding sex and intimacy.
Navigating Sex and Intimacy during Sober Recovery
For those who are suffering the ravages of a marriage on the rocks due to the destructive forces of active addiction, renewing a sexual relationship may seem like the obvious bridge that can make a couple closer. However, due to the physical and psychological changes that take place in early recovery, sex may not be possible or even comfortable for the recovering individual. The partner of the recovering addict may not be interested in romance at this stage, either. To have a lasting relationship, a couple needs to work on strengthening and healing their emotional bonds first. Marriage counseling can help a couple work through their problems, and sex will occur when both parties have opened the lines of communication and healing has begun to take place.
Navigating Relationships in a New Way
Then there are the marriages where irreparable damage has occurred. In light of any uncertainty during the transitional phase of early recovery from addiction, sexual activity should wait until hurt feelings have been mended and the recovering addict is emotionally stable enough to engage in a healthy relationship. While it may have been that addict's pattern to engage in casual sexual before, new feelings that come up during recovery will need to be addressed. Until those new feelings are addressed, sex will tangle the individual's emotions into knots and is very often the beginning of a relapse into active addiction. Many in the recovery community caution those who are newly sober to not get involved in a relationship for at least one year after entering recovery.
For those who are single and sexually active prior to recovery, the same reasoning is going to apply. While it may seem that you have been able to have casual sex without emotional entanglements before, it absolutely will be different without the effects of drugs and/or alcohol to blunt the emotions involved in intimacy.
Other risks that need to be addressed are the status of the partner you choose for sexual encounters. Are they also recovering? Is their recovery stable enough for them to withstand the emotions that are sure to surface? Is yours? Worse, are they still using and have not yet sought addiction treatment help? Are you transferring your substance addiction tendencies into a sexual addiction? Relationships are difficult, at best. Under normal circumstances, they are challenging. For addicts, relationships may be one of the things that drove them to abuse alcohol and drugs in the first place. In early recovery, relationships will often be part of the relapse process if a newly-recovering addict is not careful.