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  • Q&A with a Sex Counsellor: Intimacy & Recovery

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    Q&A with a Sex Counsellor: Intimacy & Recovery

    Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:20 pm


    If you or your partner (or both) are making changes to your drinking or drug use, you might find that your experience of intimacy also changes. This might be something to celebrate, but it could also be confusing and confronting. We’re excited to have sex counsellor Jeremy Shub here to answer any of your questions about your experience.

    Intimacy & Recovery
    For some, intimacy has historically been entwined with intoxication. With sobriety can come positive, negative or mixed impacts on your confidence or arousal, as well as your relationship with your partner, self, and body. You may find that you’re experiencing more stress or conflict in your life, minimising your libido. On the other hand, you might realise that you’re creating space in your life to better explore what intimacy and relationships mean to you.

    Jeremy Shub
    Jeremy is an inclusive counsellor, psychotherapist and bodyworker who works with people of all genders, sexual orientations, bodies, ethnicities, ages and abilities. He is dedicated to supporting people as they heal and grow into wellbeing. Jeremy is here to have an open discussion and answer any questions you may have about how your recovery journey, or the recovery journey of your partner, may be impacting intimacy.

    Ask any questions below
    Whether your relationship is long term, new, fleeting or transient, please post any questions below for Jeremy.

    Are you eager for an understanding of what’s going on for you, ideas or strategies for working through things, or tips on how to have discussions? There are no stupid questions, and as always this is a safe space free of judgement. Take advantage of this opportunity to ask anonymous questions! You never know how many others want to know the same thing. Looking forward to your questions below.

    This will be open for questions until Monday, February 24th, after which he will endeavour to answer your questions.
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    Re: Q&A with a Sex Counsellor: Intimacy & Recovery

    Tue Feb 18, 2020 12:28 pm

    Something I often get asked about is whether sexual drive and intimate relationships can return to normal in addiction recovery, or it will have lasting effects, so it would be great to hear from you on this.
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    Bamboo [facilitator]
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    ANSWERS: Q&A with a Sex Counsellor: Intimacy & Recovery

    Fri Jul 10, 2020 11:22 am

    Hi everyone, we apologise for the delay in response due to the current Covid19 situation. Please see below :)

    Sexual drive and intimacy in recovery

    Relationships & Sex counsellor Jeremy Shub recently joined us in the Counselling Online Forums to discuss how recovery can effect intimacy and sexual drive. Here’s what he had to say about how we can connect with others when we have an addiction, trauma or distress.


    This is a great subject. I am really passionate about all these topics. Many of the people I’m working with are asking this same question. How can we connect with others when we have an addiction, trauma or distress? There is no simple answer to this question. It depends on the substance, the length and degree of the addiction. Also, sexual drive (libido) and intimacy are slightly different things.

    Let’s start with libido — what is our sex drive after addiction? For some people, they find sexual experiences part of their recovery. This can be a distraction from the challenge of being with the raw emotions that can arise after people stop using. For other people sex drive can drop suddenly. This is especially true for Crystal Meth users. When they get used to chemsex, sober sex after that is disappointing. These people need to relearn how to have sober sex, finding these subtle and nuanced pleasures. It is my belief and experience that everyone can find healthy sexual experiences in recovery. It does take a focused approach to get it right, just diving into bed with someone can be confusing and possibly triggering.

    I would say that overall, it is possible to return to normal after recovery. Although it’s probably truer to say that nothing is ever the same after addiction. Our bodies can be different, our thoughts can be different and our needs can change. We might have more gratitude for simple things in life. Some people find that they have more skills in communication. Being able to say what you want and don’t want are valuable skills for intimacy and sex. It’s like having a scar on your body after an accident, the skin is always more tender in that place, and it can return to function as before.

    Recovery is a time to reassess all relationships. It can be a time to cull your phone contacts and end some relationships. Often the friendships and intimates were people using substances also. It can happen that newly sober people arrive in your life and they can teach recovery people new ways of relating. At the same time, it’s a slow and gradual process to be sober and have lovers. There is an emotional tenderness in sobriety. Some AA and NA groups forbid relationships and sex for a period after use. They see the possible turbulence as disruptive to recovery.

    Overall, in response to the question, I believe that people can have healthy, positive and pleasurable relations with others. It takes awareness, learning and effort (this is true for non-addict people also). The lasting effects of the use may be paradoxically positive. Like a toddler learning to walk, sometimes we stumble, eventually we go it.
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    Re: Q&A with a Sex Counsellor: Intimacy & Recovery

    Thu Nov 17, 2022 9:41 pm

    I'd be interested to know if there's any information on sex becoming another addiction when in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction? What to watch out for and how to stay aware that it may be becoming a problem?

    Sex can get confused with intimacy and I know there are a number of people who end up going to SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous) when in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
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