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What is Sexual Sobriety and Why Is It Important

sexual sobriety and stds

The days of early sobriety can be complicated, a bit scary, and highly confusing. As people move away from the structure of addiction treatment, going back to everyday life can be overwhelming. One thing that many addicts find themselves struggling with is sexual sobriety. This concept not only protects you from STDs, but it also helps you focus on what matters most — your newly found sobriety. 

What is Sexual Sobriety?

While the concept of “sexual sobriety” is commonly used for recovering sex addicts, anyone recovering from an alcohol and drug addiction should use it. In essence, sexual sobriety means that someone wants to manage their sexuality safely, sanely, and healthy. This could mean engaging in sex only with a primary partner once emotional intimacy is present. 

For others might be to have no sexual secrets. While for some in early recovery might be to practice complete abstinence from sexual activities. However, the concept of sexual sobriety means something different for everybody, and it might change as they make progress in their recovery journey. In the end, everyone defines sobriety differently.

The Importance of Abstinence in Early Recovery

Even trying to practice abstinence for at least the first 90 days after completing substance abuse or sex addiction treatment can be beneficial. Taking a break from sexual activity allows people to focus on their recovery and their true self. 

If sexual abstinence is not a route you want to take, you must set boundaries that help you identify what healthy sexual behaviors mean to you. These boundaries can be:

  • Inner Boundaries: these are specific sexual behaviors that result in negative consequences for yourself or your loved one. Engaging in these behaviors would result in what’s considered a “relapse” in addiction recovery. This is what you would consider your “bottom line” or hitting rock-bottom in your recovery journey.
  • Middle Boundaries: these are warning episodes or “slips” that could trigger a relapse if you don’t pay attention. It could be a list of people, places, experiences, or emotions that trigger fantasies or endanger your sobriety. This middle circle is your danger zone. If you ever find yourself here, you must reach for help to prevent a relapse.
  • Outer Boundaries: these are healthy behaviors that you want to practice more. It could be a mix of mindfulness activities, people in your life, and emotions you want to foster and turn to when you feel triggered to act sexually. Your outer circle is like the bubble that protects your long-term recovery.

Preventing Disease

But, sexual sobriety doesn’t only help you focus on your addiction recovery journey. It can also be a huge STD prevention mechanism. Abstinence from sex can help prevent exposure to:

  • Bacterial Vaginosis
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Genital Warts
  • HIV & AIDS
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Chlamydia
  • Trichomoniasis
  • Lymphogranuloma Venereum (LGV)
  • Pubic Lice (“Crabs”)
  • Gonorrhea
  • Chancroid
  • Molluscum Contagiosum
  • Scabies
  • Herpes
  • Hepatitis B (and rarely Hepatitis C)
  • Mucopurulent Cervicitis (MPC)
  • Syphilis

Of course, being sober and focused on your recovery also helps you ensure that you practice safe, protected sex. Sexual sobriety is all about learning how to foster a healthy sex life that corresponds with your healthy lifestyle.

Support for Maintaining Sobriety

At Lighthouse Recovery Institute, we know how challenging the early days of recovery can be. Attending group meetings, moving to halfway homes, or participating in rehab aftercare programs can help you find the support you need to maintain sobriety. If you or someone you know is struggling in sobriety, please contact us today to help you find the support you need to keep going.