(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Recently a post came across my news-feed on Facebook about how a motorcycle works company was holding a contest for voters to help determine which female models they should add to their crew of models called “Rehab Girls.” The person who posted the article was concerned about the content and used words like “opportunism” and “hypersexual” when describing the article with their disgruntled initial reaction to the contest.
Later the individual explained they had been contacted by the models and told the title “Rehab Girls” was not literally saying the models were in or from a rehab, but it was a play on words because of the motorcycle shop’s name. This led to the topic of discussing stigmatized language.
Eventually the debate from both sides had me wondering if we should be talking about- is it okay to show sober people’s sexy side?
Now first, set aside the “13th step” concept and be open to this conversation.
As one person in the comment thread plainly put it- sex sells. All around America every single day we see that in our society sexual innuendo and risqué rhetoric are utilized by the media and by corporations to get people’s attention and push their product.
No matter how you slice it, our world has a consistent degree of hypersexual activity in one shape or another, so it should come as no surprise that every one of us wants to show our sexy side sometimes. This begs the question- is it really so much worse when people are in recovery? Why is it okay for the average man or women to be an underwear model, but the addict or alcoholic in recovery shouldn’t?
Some would say because of our compulsive behaviors we are in danger of seeking out a new source of instant gratification in sex; that sex and lusting after one another can overrun our senses with an alternative sense of euphoria. Then that could lead to more harmful and risky behaviors.
Focusing on self-worth and building a healthy relationship with ourselves is so important, so some would claim that sex should be off the table for those early recovery. Some would insist that if you are newly clean and sober that you are far too sensitive and vulnerable to be with another person in any healthy way while still reestablishing your life.
And in some ways, this makes sense.
Abstinence in Recovery
Honestly, as someone in recovery I can say that taking time off from trying to be sexy when I got sober was important. Reconnecting with the person I had forgotten to be for so long was a pretty difficult process, and I can’t imagine trying to do that and simultaneously trying to create a legitimate relationship. All that just was beyond my means at the time.
But keep in mind that not everyone experiences things the way I do; some people do just fine without that ME-time. It was just something I needed.
For me, experience also showed that much like with drugs, merely abstaining from sex was not enough. I had to gradually develop the type of man I wanted to be with another person, which took serious self-appraisal and action. Still to this day I believe my sexual relationships have not all been healthy, but I don’t think it’s because I’m an addict- I think it’s because I’m a young human adult and I make mistakes.
My Opinion: Freedom of Sexy Expression
What it really comes down to, in my own opinion, is this:
Are you in a healthy place, and how do YOU want to express it?
That is it… in the fellowship of recovery I attend, this qualifies as an outside issue when working with others. As men and women in recovery once we have found a solution in our lives that helps us work on ourselves we should be free to model and act as sexy as we want. Sure, our behaviors may sometimes create circumstances that are less than perfect for being sober, but we do not hide from the world and from who we are. In recovery we are given this new freedom and new happiness we hear so much about, and if that means a man or woman wants to pose for a calendar and try their best strut on the catwalk (yeah, yeah, the catwalk) then it is absolutely their choice regardless of what their sobriety date is.
Sure- some might worry about others exploiting people in recovery who are still sick. I’m not saying there isn’t a scenario where this could go horribly wrong and someone with a camera couldn’t use desperate people for their work. There should be a level of tastefulness and accountability, but why should we be extra sensitive to people in the peaks of their recovery when they want to celebrate their body or their unique style?
In reality THIS is how you shatter a stigma- by not allowing people to say this person can’t be sexy or shouldn’t be able to model because they are an addict or alcoholic. We shatter stigma by tearing down barriers, not building more to set us apart from everyone else. There are dozens of social media networks and websites, even clothing brands that highlight the sexy side of sobriety. WE ARE BEAUTIFUL. Being sober is NOT a disadvantage- it is a victory.
So please… get my good side.
Being sexy should not be the priority in sobriety, but nobody should feel like they don’t have the right to be sexy because they’re sober. Face it people, sober is sexy! Is it wrong to take people who are still addicted or people who are struggling to stay sober and exploit them by sexual means? OF COURSE! But with real recovery comes real freedom of self-expression. If you are trying to find a place to let that real recovery begin, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Back in February, we published an article on how Utah Republican State Senator Todd Weiler declared porn a public health crisis. Weiler came out in protest of pornography citing the destructive, addictive nature of porn. He introduced a legislature to Utah that would allow the state to closely monitor ]pornography usage and reduce child pornography.
Now, the state’s governor is coming out with support for those beliefs. Utah Gov. Gary R. Hubert recently said that porn is a “health hazard” and produces a “sexually toxic environment” for those who view it. He signed two bills to raise awareness of the issue he feels strongly about:
“Pornography is a public health crisis. Today I signed two bills that will bring its dangers to light. S.C.R. 9 calls for additional research and education so that more individuals and families are aware of the harmful effects of pornography,” said Herbert on the governor’s Facebook page.
Of the two bills, one is technically a resolution that declares porn as an official health hazard to the state of Utah while the other bill proposes a solution. The first bill explains the reason why porn is such a huge problem. It lists the numerous detrimental effects of porn such as causing the treatment of women as “objects and commodities for the viewer’s use.” The bill continues to state that pornography “equates violence toward women and children with sex and pain with pleasure, which increases the demand for sex trafficking, prostitution, child sexual abuse images, and child pornography.”
Still, the bill does not list any punishing powers. It does not explicitly ban pornography in the state, nor does it contain any consequences for those caught viewing pornography.
Jon Cox, the spokesperson for the Republican governor, explained the bill Monday stating the point of the bill is to declare a resolution to raise awareness and education of the dangers of porn:
“We want Utah youths to understand the addictive habits” of porn that are “harmful to our society,” he said.
The second bill introduced does list some consequences for more specific porn usage, such as viewing child pornography. The second bill requires technicians who find child pornography during their work to report it to law enforcement. Any technician who fails to report findings of child pornography would face a class B misdemeanor.
Claims of Addiction
Porn addiction has been, and continues to be, a controversial manner. Some believe pornography has a place in society while others believe it is harmful. Some also believe pornography can be addictive while others find there is nothing addictive about it. Just like any addiction, some people are affected more by an action or behavior than others are.
Dawn Hawkins is the executive director of National Center on Sexual Exploitation in Washington, had spoken in the past how detrimental she feels porn can be.
“Pornography encourages viewers to view their sexual partners in a dehumanized way, and it increases the acceptance and enjoyment of sexual violence and harmful beliefs about women, sex, and rape.”
Pornography continues to be an interesting conversation had throughout the entire country. An interesting twist to the legislation is that in 2009, Utah was determined by Harvard Business School to have the highest pornography sales per capita than any other state in the United States.
Pornography exists, and people are watching it. That is a fact. Whether or not pornography should be banned or how addictive it can be remains a conversation to be had repetitively. However, as with any addiction, people respond differently. If you feel you have a problem, get help. Do not feel ashamed. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.
Author: Justin Mckibben
Some say that adversity for adolescence can be a trauma that catalyzes their future potential for sustainable mental health. Others would say that we cannot let our traumas define us, and that we have a conscious decision to make our own definitions out of our experiences. The stories we tell ourselves have the meaning we give them, and we can make the same stories into epitaphs of empowerment in a hero’s journey, or we can make them tales of turmoil that set us on a path to destruction.
But what if those experiences actually do a little more than alter our mood, what if they actually alter our brains?
In 1995, physicians Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda launched a large-scale epidemiological study probing the child and adolescent histories of 17,000 subjects with shocking results.
The ACE Study
In this study they compared childhood experiences to later adult health records, and in the process they discovered nearly 2/3 of individuals had encountered one or more Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).
Felitti and Anda coined the term for ACEs to encompass the chronic, unpredictable, and stress-inducing events some children face, including:
- Growing up with a depressed parent
- Growing up with an alcoholic parent
- Losing a parent to divorce or other causes
- Enduring chronichumiliation
- Emotional neglect
- Sexual or physical abuse
The conclusion they came to was that the number of ACEs an individual experienced predicted the amount of medical care they would require as an adult with astounding accuracy, and some of these revelations were quite troubling:
- Individuals who had faced 4 or more categories of ACEs were 2 times likely to be diagnosed with cancer
- For each ACE Score a woman had, her risk of being hospitalized with an autoimmune disease rose by 20%
- Someone with an ACE Score of 4 was 460% more likely to suffer from depressionthan someone with an ACE Score of 0.
- An ACE Score greater than or equal to 6 shortened an individual’s lifespan by almost 20 years
The ACE Study tells us these traumatic childhood events predispose individuals to a variety of chronic conditions in adulthood.
Today, in labs across the country, neuroscientists are peering into the once inscrutable brain-body connection, and breaking down, on a biochemical level, exactly how the stress we face when we’re young catches up with us when we’re adults, altering our bodies, our cells, and even our DNA, with startling results.
The more bewildering conclusions oblige us to take a second glance at how emotional and physical pain is interwoven in who we are.
Early Epigenetic Shifts
When thrust repeatedly into stress-inducing situations during childhood our physiological stress reaction shifts into overdrive, and we lose the ability to respond appropriately and effectively to future stressors. Not just over days or months, but decades later.
This is due to gene methylation, in which small chemical markers, or methyl groups, adhere to the genes involved in regulating the stress response. This reaction prevents these genes from doing their jobs. As the function of these genes is altered, the stress response becomes re-set on “high” for life.
With stress-response on “high alert” our bodies promote inflammation and disease. It can also cause us to be more prone to over-react to the everyday stressors of life, creating even more inflammation. In this process we are predisposed to a mass of chronic conditions, including:
- Autoimmune disease
- Heart disease
This has all been determined through further research.
Destruction of Default Mode Network
Inside each of our brains, a network of neurocircuitry, commonly called the “default mode network,” stays actively uniting parts of the brain associated with memory and thought integration. This network is always on stand-by, ready to help us to figure out what to do next.
Ruth Lanius is a neuroscientist, professor of psychiatry, and director of the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Research Unit at the University of Ontario who stated:
“The dense connectivity in these areas of the brain help us to determine what’s relevant or not relevant, so that we can be ready for whatever our environment is going to ask of us,”
When facing childhood adversity and being habitually pushed into a state of fight-or-flight the default mode network starts to go offline so that it no longer helps to decipher what’s relevant, or what to do next.
According to Lanius, kids who’ve faced early trauma have less connectivity in the default mode network. Their brains don’t seem to enter that healthy stand-by state, and even decades after the initial traumatic patterns they may still have trouble reacting appropriately to the world around them and knowing what is important.
These are just two examples of how the concept of trauma literally rewiring the brain to react differently comes into play, which may seem like a huge let down, but the thing is these changes are not insurmountable obstacles.
Recovery in part means learning to get re-acclimated to the world and learning new coping mechanisms to help us combat the insufficient patterns we develop in our early lives. While ACEs may retrain the brain in unhealthy ways that are detrimental to the body, recovery doesn’t take brain surgery. At the end of the day we all have the capacity to retrain our brains and escape the stories we tell ourselves of our traumas, and build new paths to reconnect our minds with our life’s mission.
Mental illness, trauma and addiction quite often go hand in hand. The trauma we experience can contribute to the worst of our habits, but recovery is possible through effective trauma resolutions. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Justin Mckibben
Today I’m going to give you ‘The Talk’. Yes that talk. And it will probably get a little weird, but I promise it’s for a good cause and it will all be over soon. Let’s talk about sex, and the way your sex life is affected by addiction. I can already hear the ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ now. But in all actuality, how many addicts can say that their sex life was never affected by their addiction to drugs and/or alcohol? Drug and alcohol addiction harms our livelihood and relationships in every aspect, and our sexual relationships are no different. Be it physical, mental, or emotional our sex lives suffer. So let’s get down to the ‘nitty gritty’ and talk about 7 ways addiction affects your sex life.
- Physical- Libido
One problem caused by addiction, or so I’m told, involving sex is the physical impact it has on the sex-drive. Especially for men erectile dysfunction is very common for males who have a history of substance abuse. Perhaps the most common drug used that has this affect is alcohol. At low concentrations of blood alcohol, social inhibitions are reduced, though in higher concentrations it can also inhibit performance. Men who take drugs are more likely to have performance issues in the bedroom – even years after they stop taking them. Whether man or woman, new research has overturned previous thinking that the body recovers in a matter of weeks, issuing a fresh warning to those who take illegal substances or even drink heavily, as alcohol is the worst offender of all. So even after getting clean, you still have a while before you can be of maximum performance.
One thing more addicts and alcoholics may not be as open about is the affect that addiction has on their self-esteem when it comes to sex. Drugs and alcohol tend to magnify our individual insecurities, and especially when combined with any number of the other side-effect on this list. Self-esteem is not typically a strong suit for addicts, and in a way recovering addicts perpetuate the self-esteem problem by either avoiding the conversation, or becoming sexually active in unhealthy ways, which later threaten their relationships or self-esteem in a vicious cycle.
- Sexually Transmitted Disease’s
Perhaps one of the more obvious problems related to substance abuse and sex is the spread of sexual transmitted diseases (STD’s). Addiction can sometimes result in hazardous exposure to blood and bodily fluids, and diseases can be transferred in this way, especially through IV users who inject drugs and share needles, including HIV. This can drastically effect your sex life when it damages your health and you are forced carry it into future relationships. Other times addiction leads individuals to behave in ways that put them at risk. Promiscuity or even prostitution are not uncommon among addicts and alcoholics in active addiction who have little or no control over what they do, or the dependence that they have on their drinking or drug use. It is one of the most terrible tragedies of addiction what addicts are sometimes subjected to in our addiction, and women are not the only victims in this case, but they are often the majority.
- Unplanned Pregnancy
Addiction and the possibility of promiscuity or prostitution also open the door for unplanned pregnancies. Many addicts and alcoholics find themselves in a position where they had at no point consciously planned on having a child, or even staying with the person they were sexually active with, but they are so heavily influenced and controlled by their using that they do not take the proper measures to protect themselves, and this can result in unplanned pregnancy. Unplanned pregnancy has a profound effect on not just your sex life, but your entire life in general. For some this only puts more pressure on the battle to stay clean, and sadly the child is not given a choice, and their life is effected no matter what.
- Relationship problems
For some, addiction can simply cause problems in their sex life based off of the issues that develop in the relationship itself. If they have a significant other and that person has given up on trying to trust them or help them, it drives a massive gap between the two people involved, and that tends to kill the mood fairly quickly. When fights out of fear, anger or frustration are a re-occurring situation in the home, it can remove all possibility for any form of a healthy physical relationship.
Isolation and anti-social behavior may in a way go along with self-esteem, or it may just be that you sit home alone and do drugs or drink and have no desire to go outside yourself and build a relationship with any type of potential lover. It is basically impossible for an addict, or anyone for that matter, to find an intimate partner from the habitat of their own basement or living room. It is important to step outside your house, outside a bar, or outside the drug dealers home and seek for healthy relationships. Sex does not always just show up knocking at your door, and when it does it is typically not the kind you are looking for, that is to say you have any kind of desire for a real relationship and not just a booty call, which leads to the next one…
- Emotional Availability
Now many addicts have a history in some way or another of relationship drama, and quite a few have actually experienced real loss of loved ones in their addiction. By allowing your addiction to both mentally and emotionally make you unavailable by numbing yourself to your feelings too long, it will have a more personal effect on your sex life. This does not mean that you will not have any sex either; it just means that the sex you do have will be meaningless and mundane in many respects. Sure, to some it seems like a perfect deal to be able to get the physical stimulation and personal pleasure out of the actual act, but then you have to consider deep down is that all you’re ever going to want? And does this run you the risk of becoming addicted to sex as an alternative to your drug addiction?
If you’re anything like me, emotional availability has been a tough part of addiction because I spent as much time as possible numbing myself to my feelings, that when I actually wanted to experience more fulfilling relationships I could only understand or contribute to a physical one. This became a problem that I was able to get a better understanding and work on in recovery, because I realized that not being emotionally available was against my newfound spiritual principles, and that in an effort to change and grow I must allow myself to love and be loved, regardless of fear or reservations, because in the end I cannot afford to be unattached and unavailable for my own life, sexual or otherwise. In the end, sex is about more to me than empty and efficient intercourse, it is another form of sharing yourself with someone you feel safe and protected with, and with someone who inspires you to grow, in more ways than one. Addiction has a habit of devastating every element of our lives it touches, and our romantic and intimate relationships are no exception. Sex, love, and emotional growth are all inhibited by the toll that drug and alcohol addiction takes on the mental, physical and emotional well-being of the individual trapped in the grips of this vicious disease. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Sober sex and “high” sex are two different things, so much so that it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Drugs bring a person to an altered state which can affect sensitivity, arousal, libido, function – to name a few. For a lot of people, having sex while high is a rush that sober sex has a hard time comparing. We get different rushes from sex while drinking alcohol or using other drugs. That’s part of what drugs do. They put you in an altered, euphoric state – the opposite of being sober. So, here are 5 things no one tells you about sex in recovery.
5 Things No One Tells You About Sex in Recovery: Sexual Function
Many men experience trouble with erection, and difficulty reaching orgasm and ejaculation, and this is after the drugs and alcohol. Some men may actually damage hormonal functions of the body from drug use in which case they are not producing as much testosterone as they should be which then affects libido and performance.
5 Things No One Tells You About Sex in Recovery: Experiencing Feelings
You know the ones I mean – they’re like four-letter words to us alcoholics and addicts: vulnerability, intimacy, honesty. So, even if you were the type to just “hit it and quit it,” you may find yourself developing feelings for your sex partner. This can be entirely new territory for many people, especially if you have only had sex while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
5 Things No One Tells You About Sex in Recovery: Shame and Sex
If you have shame around sex, embarking on new experiences such as sober sex may dredge up some unresolved issues for you. If that’s the case, be patient with yourself and be willing to do the work needed in order to heal completely – whether that means going to therapy, reading self-help books, or joining a support group. Having shame about sex and then engaging in sober sex may be a trigger to use or drink again.
5 Things No One Tells You About Sex in Recovery: Sober Sex May Be a Trigger
Sex can be a trigger for some people because it can bring up a lot of feelings about shame. If you hold shame around sex, you are more likely to use when engaging in sex. Or because you are used to having sex while intoxicated, the association between sex and drugs/alcohol can trigger cravings.
5 Things No One Tells You About Sex in Recovery: It’s Awkward
You’re learning a whole new way of sexually interacting with others. It’s going to take time and practice. You may have had a lot of sex in the past, during active addiction but, having sober sex is completely different and new. Be prepared for awkward moments between the sheets.
5 Things No One Tells You About Sex in Recovery: Sober Sex is Good
Despite all of the aforementioned aspects of sober sex (and maybe because of them), sober sex can be great. It’s definitely better than drunken or drugged sex while you’re in a haze. On the one hand, it can be the most amazing thing you’ve ever experienced, every touch, every sensation made memorable by complete hyperconsciousness; on the other, it can be one of the most terrifying things: the complete nakedness and vulnerability of it all.
If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse or drug addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135.