The Chronicles of Sex in Rehab
(page 2)At my next treatment center I met Danielle. She was another classic beauty like Alicia, except that she had been around the block a few times. This was evident not only through her prolific use of drugs, but also by her prodigious skills in bed. I remember gasping the first time she performed fellatio on me. I thought I’d only experience such a feeling shooting meth. And that's fitting, because Danielle and I used crystal meth during treatment together. Tweaking, we’d sit outside and smoke cigarettes and babble through the night. Shockingly, the staff didn't seem to notice that we’d go days without sleeping. Part of the rush came from beating the system, covertly hooking up with Danielle and getting high in treatment. Circumventing drug tests was an art form, and I had perfected it over the years. I was proud of it.
As you probably know, meth greatly enhances one’s libido—for a little while. For me, one of the downsides of meth was impotence. There is nothing worse than being totally preoccupied by sex and being unable to perform. It's like being granted eternal life then getting a life sentence in prison. I asked the psychiatrist at the rehab if he would prescribe me Viagra or Cialis. Puzzled, he wondered why I wanted the little blue pill during inpatient treatment. I told him I was having trouble masturbating. For a brief moment, he actually considered writing a scrip.
So how did it end with Danielle? Guess. When I met her, I had been fighting a court case for some time. I had already been sentenced and had to turn myself in within a couple months. The judge made it clear that I would be in serious trouble if I left treatment before I did my time.
I ran away from rehab with Danielle the first chance I got. Bail was revoked, and bounty hunters dispatched. They found me holed up in a motel in Pasadena. Danielle was crashed out on the bed. I remember feeling uncertain when there was a knock and I unlatched and unlocked the hotel door. Why was the room-service guy here? Had I ordered room service? I couldn't remember. The door burst open and two large men with taser guns yelled “Get on the floor!” and “Where are the drugs?” They escorted me to county lockup. I never saw Danielle again.
Eventually I met Cindy. She scored a perfect 10 on the dysfunction meter—a perfect match. It was like destiny that we met. We were two beings in a sparsely populated realm that consisted of the sickest of sick souls.
Cindy had long, jet-black hair, milky-white skin and anorexia. She liked to wear frayed jean short shorts with no underwear. She constantly gnashed a wad of fruity gum and identified sociologically with punk rock. She always asked me to wear really tight jeans. No thanks.
We consummated our “relationship” immediately and in the dirtiest ways imaginable. There were no candles or roses. We kept our murmurs to a minimum, careful not to alert the staff.
Our relationship continued in this matter for a couple months—stern, wordless lust. I became a long-term resident of the facility and was allowed to have my own room. By this point, Cindy had left treatment and would frequently visit me. Occasionally she’d sneak in and spend the night. We would pull the covers over her head if we heard staff approaching.
Eventually Cindy accused me of cheating, and then she started punching holes in my walls. She packed quite the punch. At first I was flattered, but that feeling passed. She came to me one day and told me she was pregnant. I couldn't tell whether she was telling the truth, but what did it matter? I borrowed money for an abortion and handed it to her in a wad of Kleenex.
There were many Alicias, Danielles and Cindys throughout my using career. They all represent the same thing, the reason I pursued them: dopamine. It wasn't just for the blowjob, or the frayed jean shorts. It was for the release of neurotransmitters that briefly relieved the bondage of self. It was a way to get high without ingesting chemicals. It was like a version of the Rolling Stones song, except this one is called "Sister Dopamina," the seductive, intoxicating lady of early recovery.
Dopamina and I had our fun, but we never really connected. We were incapable of anything beyond carnality and co-dependency. We used each other to feel better, and consequently, we felt worse. As the saying goes, “Two sickies don't make a welly.”
I learned that nothing screams validation like a wink from a potential sex partner in early recovery. I would even settle for a couple seconds of eye contact—even a glance that stayed within the Sprinkler Rule. It puts a Band-Aid on the low self-esteem addicts experience in treatment. When active, we perpetuate the toxic spiral of addiction by using substances, generating consequences and then using more substances to mask the pain of said consequences. In treatment we are granted the opportunity to genuinely feel this pain and do something about it. When we choose to enter into a “relationship” instead, we are sustaining the toxic spiral without actually consuming chemicals. We stay sick, learn nothing and end up relapsing. At least I did.
Christopher O’Connor is a freelance addiction writer. He works for the company Family Healing Strategies, where he counsels families of those in treatment.