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My Sordid Rehab Sex Life

Some say you shouldn't date anyone in the first year of sobriety. So what happens if you hook up in rehab—again and again and again? Nothing good.

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There were many Alicias, Danielles and Cindys throughout my using career. They all represent the same thing, the reason I pursued them: dopamine. It wasn't just for the blowjob, or the frayed jean shorts. It was for the release of neurotransmitters that briefly relieved the bondage of self. It was a way to get high without ingesting chemicals. It was like a version of the Rolling Stones song, except this one is called "Sister Dopamina," the seductive, intoxicating lady of early recovery.

Dopamina and I had our fun, but we never really connected. We were incapable of anything beyond carnality and co-dependency. We used each other to feel better, and consequently, we felt worse. As the saying goes, “Two sickies don't make a welly.”

I learned that nothing screams validation like a wink from a potential sex partner in early recovery. I would even settle for a couple seconds of eye contact—even a glance that stayed within the Sprinkler Rule. It puts a Band-Aid on the low self-esteem addicts experience in treatment. When active, we perpetuate the toxic spiral of addiction by using substances, generating consequences and then using more substances to mask the pain of said consequences. In treatment we are granted the opportunity to genuinely feel this pain and do something about it. When we choose to enter into a “relationship” instead, we are sustaining the toxic spiral without actually consuming chemicals. We stay sick, learn nothing and end up relapsing. At least I did.

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