After completing a detox and rehabilitation programme, you may be ready to return home to start a new life with your loved ones. However, this may not be as easy as you expect. It will take time for everyone to adjust to the ‘new’ you, so you need to be patient.
Your spouse and children have no doubt lived with the effects of your addiction for a long time, so they will need to learn how to trust you; it is up to you to prove that you are serious about your sobriety. Rebuilding relationships will require patience and commitment.
When it comes to sexual intimacy with your spouse, you may experience a number of problems. Substance abuse can have a devastating impact on sexual relationships, particularly in the early days. Both you and your spouse may have obstacles to overcome before you can get your sex life back on track. Below are several common problems experienced during early recovery.
- Hormones running wild – Many men who have been abusing alcohol will lose interest in sex due to changes in their hormones. Alcohol lowers testosterone levels, and liver damage will result in a rise in oestrogen levels. Until these hormone levels return to normal, the lack of interest in sex can persist. The good news is that the body will begin to heal itself and get back to normal, and sexual desire will return.
- Low self-esteem – Many addicts suffer from low self-esteem, and unfortunately, these feelings tend to continue, especially in the early days of recovery. However, with the right help and support, the recovering addict will begin to learn to love him or herself again. When this happens, he or she will be able to allow others to love them too.
- Bad memories – This can be a problem for both partners. Sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs may not have been very satisfying, and the memory of this can become an obstacle to love making.
- Guilt – Many recovering addicts will feel guilty about how they treated their spouse while they were ill. The affected individual may worry that he or she will not be able to perform properly, which can make them feel even more guilty.
- Fear of failure – Trouble with sexual intimacy while under the influence can result in the recovering addict believing that he or she will be unable to perform properly. The constant worry can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
- Lack of trust – Partners and spouses of recovering addicts may not be ready to trust their partner yet, and without trust, love making can be unsatisfying.
- Resentment – Spouses may continue to resent their recovering addict partner because of everything they experienced during the illness. This can be a major obstacle in terms of sexual intimacy.
How to Overcome Obstacles to Sexual Intimacy
Many people will ignore their problems and hope these will go away, but it is far better to tackle them head on to improve the situation. Ignoring it can result in irreparable damage, but speaking to a counsellor could make a significant difference.
There are other things you can do in the meantime, such as lowering expectations in terms of your sex life. It may be the case that you have to put this part of your relationship on hold for a while until your recovery progresses to a point where you have begun to establish trust and respect once more.
Working on other parts of your relationship at this stage is probably more important. Try to prove to your loved one that you care about him or her through deeds instead of words. Putting your loved one first and being considerate will help to improve your relationship – you can work on sexual intimacy when the time is right.