My View on Sexuality’s Role in Recovery: No More Slut Shaming!

by April Smith on 17 August 2017 in Alcoholism, Drug Abuse, Life in Recovery | updated on 11 August 2017

One of my sponsors used to call her former self a “boozie floozie,” referring to the sexual relationships she’d had during active addiction. In women’s meetings, I would often hear others confess their sexual escapades, almost as though the sex were more of a problem than the drinking.

In my rehab facility, I heard teenage girls describe themselves as “promiscuous” because they had had more than two boyfriends. There were strict rules for what girls could wear – bra was required, shirts had to be long enough to cover your butt if you were wearing yoga pants, shorts of a certain length – but almost no rules for the boys dress code.

I’m all for getting over substance abuse problems, but why bring “slut shaming” into recovery?

Morality’s Role in AA

It’s no big secret that Bill Wilson, founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, had a problem with women. The tales of his extramarital affairs and the patience of his long-suffering wife Lois are legendary. There was even a group of founding AA members who came together to police Bill’s behavior around pretty female newcomers. “There’s a slip under every skirt,” he was quoted as saying.

Bill’s ideology, which forms the foundation of Alcoholics Anonymous, comes from the Oxford Movement, an Evangelical Christian organization that focused on confessing sin and repentance.

His behavior with women was in direct contradiction to its doctrines, but the influence of Evangelical Christianity’s beliefs about female chastity live on in “The Rooms” to this day.

When Sexuality and Recovery Collide

In rehab, we confessed our sins…and sexual sins were among them. For the most part, I kept my mouth shut. I’ve never been married and have dated a fair amount – two things of which I’m not in the least ashamed. But I kept up the persona of the good girl, not wanting to be attacked about something that I feel is completely irrelevant to the subject of getting sober.

It’s true that in active addiction we do things to hurt ourselves and others. I think for some people (not just women), sex is another way to numb the pain and we all know that alcohol lowers our inhibitions. Having sex with people who don’t respect us can also be a sign that we lack a sense of self-worth – an issue most of us have to confront in recovery.

But sex – in and of itself – is not the problem. The number of people I’ve slept with or the length of my skirt are not problems. In my personal opinion, the real problems related to sexuality in recovery come in the form of dangerous sexual behaviors – sex that makes us feel bad about ourselves, violates our own personal values, or disrespects the humanity of the other person.

So, what do you think about the role of sexuality in recovery? Should people feel compelled to reveal past sexual exploits while in treatment? Does that even play a role in the recovery process? Share your feelings in the comments section below.

Image Source: iStock

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Recovery.org. We do believe in a healthy dialogue on all topics and we welcome the opinions of our contributors and readers.