Healthy intimacy and addiction are terms that can be incongruous. If people are abusing alcohol and drugs, it can be almost impossible for them to maintain healthy intimate relationships. As drugs or alcohol become the objects of obsession, there is no room for anyone else. As the individual falls further into addiction they may even lose all interest in sex. Addiction drives the individual into a world of delusion and selfish action. It will not be possible for another human to trust them fully, and this will prove to be a barrier to intimacy. The addict is still likely to have people who love them, but there will be a sense of wariness mixed in with the affection. The person who is abusing alcohol or drugs may feel almost incapable of feeling true affection for other people – they are too self obsessed to think beyond their own needs.
Addiction and Risky Sexual Behavior
Many people who abuse alcohol or drugs will engage in promiscuous sex. This type of sex lacks intimacy and it usually involves multiple partners. The addict may regularly wake up in bed with a stranger with no memories of the night before. Deep down the individual may realize that this is a poor substitute for true intimacy, but it becomes a habit. When people are inebriated they are liable to make impulsive and poor decisions. Impulsivity remains a prominent feature for many people in early recovery, placing them at risk for making healthy decisions regarding intimacy and sex. Such behavior increases the risk of picking up a sexually transmitted disease.
Impact of Addiction on Sexual Health
Alcohol and drug abuse can have a devastating impact on a person’s sexual health. Some drugs such as cocaine have the reputation for increasing sexual performance but the effects are short lived. Over any length of time the abuse of these substances will lead to decreased sexual functioning. As the individual falls further into addiction they may completely lose all interest in sex and intimacy. Males may find it difficult to become aroused and so engaging in sexual activity becomes almost impossible. Women will also suffer from decreased libido as a result of drug abuse.
Moving Forward in Recovery
Once people give up an addiction they will be able to begin rebuilding their life. One of the areas that they will need to focus on will be intimacy and sexual relationships. For some people this will prove to be the hardest area of their life to fix, but things will improve if they give it time and make a serious effort to improve things. In some situations the individual will benefit from some type of counseling as they may have underlying issues that prevent them from developing satisfying intimate relationships.