Finding and Relearning Intimacy in Sobriety 


Relationships, love, and sex are already complicated enough. Adding drug or alcohol abuse to the equation only makes it harder. People who deal with substance abuse often struggle with relearning or finding intimacy in their relationships. 

One of the most common issues that new recoveries face is relationships. Addiction can hurt relationships whether they’re with a family member, friend, or significant other. 

Past shame or guilt makes it hard to let anyone get close or, makes it hard for individuals to be vulnerable.  If you or a loved one has been affected by substance abuse and addiction continue reading.

What Does Intimacy Mean in a Relationship?

Intimacy is characterized by emotional and physical intimacy.  Emotional intimacy involves people’ towards one another, while physical refers to more of a relationship’s sexual and romantic part. 

It’s the thing that best describes how close you get with someone in a relationship. To achieve intimacy individuals must learn new behaviors or relearn behaviors from their old ones while they were addicted and abusing drugs.  

Characteristics of an intimate relationship include:

  • Trust 
  • Knowing the other person
  • Affectionate towards one another 
  • Long term goals
  • Commitment to each other 
  • Treat each other fairly 
  • Share similar opinions, beliefs, experiences 

So How Does Addiction Affect Relationships?

Substance abuse can affect various aspects of someone’s life, especially relationships. Affliction can ruin some of the most essential parts of a relationship, like trust, communication, loyalty, and intimacy. 


Being an addict comes with a lot of guilt, shame, and fear of being judged.  To avoid that, many individuals who abuse drugs or alcohol stop telling the truth to make their situation seem better to others.  

Oftentimes addicts will lie about money they spend on drugs, places they go, or people they hang out with. These lies end up hurting their relationships, even causing them to get violent. 


Some abused substances can have emotional severe on a person’s behavior.  Some might cause them to act out of line or cruelly towards others.  

Addicts might experience severe mood swings, irritability, or risky behavior.  If they were to get into an argument with their significant other, there might be a possibility of abuse or physical harm. 


Relationships with addicts often result in their enabling them despite their best intentions. Addicts may engage in helping behaviors such as lending money, calling in sick, and lying to others.

When addicts are constantly overprotected by their loved ones, they cannot experience the consequences of their addictive behaviors.  This leads to them not seeking any help because they can’t see what they are doing wrong. 

In any relationship, healthy boundaries are essential.  If you are in a relationship with an addict and love them, you mustn’t enable the self-destructive cycle of their addiction. 

As hard as it might be, it’s important you help them only when necessary and not propagate their behaviors.  This doesn’t mean it will fix them right away, but it could help them realize they need severe addiction treatment. 

Substance Abuse and Intimacy 

Intimate relationships can become nearly impossible for people who abuse alcohol or drugs. They will be so obsessed with doing drugs or drinking alcohol that they won’t have anything else on their mind like a relationship.  

When someone falls further into addiction, they may completely lose their interest in sex. Addiction drives the individual into a world of delusion and selfish action. 

Humans cannot fully trust one another, which makes intimacy impossible. While an addict still has people who love them, there will also be a sense of wariness mixed in with the affection. 

Those who abuse alcohol or drugs may find it almost impossible to feel genuine affection for others – they are too self-centered to think beyond their own needs.

How to Overcome Intimacy in Recovery

While we at No Matter What have a specialization in treating substance abuse and addiction, we can treat any problems that may arise along the way. 

We offer several addiction treatment programs to help you adjust to the new lifestyle with or without a relationship. 

Recovering from drugs is a big milestone and we want to be there along the way to help no matter your situation.  If that means helping with relationships and intimacy then we’ll make a personalized plan to do so.  

Our trauma-based substance abuse and mental health treatment center is here to help. 

Get Help with No Matter What 

Addicts who give up their addictions can begin rebuilding their lives. If you need help with sexuality and intimacy in relationships, provide and customize a program specific to your needs. 

People will find this the most challenging area of their lives to change, but if they persevere and make a genuine effort to change, things will improve. 

There are also instances in which individuals need some sort of counseling because they may have underlying issues preventing them from satisfying intimate relationships.

Regardless of your situation, NMW can help.  We provide substance abuse treatment in combination with mental health therapy and counseling.  No matter your situation or circumstances, healing is possible.  

To start as soon as possible, contact us today and learn more.