The following article was written by our counselor, Terry, and was published in a recent issue of Kinkster.
Kink sex is not the negative experience that some people believe it to be. In fact, the kink community is one of acceptance and understanding, where safety is paramount. Societies’ picture of kink sex still tends to be one depicting bestial humans torturing unwilling people with no level of respect for one another. This is far from the reality of kink sex. Without knowing any better, sponsors, friends in recovery, and even some counselors or therapists may share this belief and actually attempt to discourage the recovering addict from returning to this “destructive” lifestyle. Drug and alcohol use at kink gatherings, although not unusual, is not generally accepted. Having to worry about what chemicals your Dom may be under the influence of while tying you up and preparing to whip you to your limits isn’t generally appealing. This doesn’t necessarily mean that healthy, sober, kink sex is easy or appealing to everyone, nor does it mean it’s always a good idea. Engaging in healthy, sober Bondage/Discipline, Dominance/Submission, Sadism/Masochism and Slavery/Mastery (BDSM) is definitely achievable, but may require you to relearn Kink, or at the very least, understand some important tips.
The clients I work with and see regularly yearn for the love and connection they have experienced within the kink communities. Although actively using or drinking through their days of being tied up and flogged, most present their BDSM family as being some of the most understanding, accepting, loving and supportive people they have ever known, as well as these experiences being some of the most sacred, gratifying and relaxing of their sexual lives. Tying one’s recovery down before one’s self is important in eliminating some of the land mines and the potentially rocky road ahead of a person new in Recovery. Following these tips can aid in setting some hard, personal limits.
1. Be careful Kink doesn’t replace drugs. Some experience the adrenaline rush felt through the intense experience BDSM can offer as ‘getting high’, which in and of itself doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing. However, along with every high comes an inevitable crash which, for some, can significantly increase one’s vulnerability to drink or use drugs again in an attempt to chase that ‘high’. The rush of endorphins alone can replace the sensations one might achieve through the use of recreational drugs because of the ‘escape’ it provides. If Kink becomes a new way of dealing with issues such as shame, low self-esteem, anger or depression, then these issues don’t get resolved; simply medicated again. Seek out a Kink-positive counselor or therapist to work through these things before jumping back into the scene right away.
2. Be mindful of compulsivity. Just like any behavior, kink sex can become a problem even if it wasn’t before sobriety. Those with problems of addiction may be more susceptible to this. When any behavior interferes with your relationships, obligations or ability to function, attention must be paid and changes made.
3. Alcohol and drug use lowers inhibitions. Numerous clients have shared that drug and alcohol use has been the bridge that has allowed them to move from fantasy to reality. The shame and fear associated with having such fantasies can inhibit some from acting on them. Drug and alcohol use are great at temporarily lowering these inhibitions; allowing one to have the fun they want. Lowering or eliminating shame and fear inhibitions by personal acceptance is the only way to keep drug use out of this scene.
4. Create a safe way to do risky things. Being sure that a kink party or event does not involve drugs is important and pre-event work is the safest way to get this assurance. Things such as non-sex meet-ups, often called “munches”, offer a place to get acquainted with the people and culture as well as the spoken and unspoken rules the prospective encounter might carry. Before you play, understand the scene and make an agreement that respects and ensures your sobriety.
5. Respect Yourself. The book Playing Well With Others, written by L. Harrington and M. Williams, stresses the need for participants to have a strong level of self-esteem and respect for their own needs, desires and boundaries. Not having this makes a person very vulnerable to being taken advantage of and manipulated, putting sobriety at risk.
6. Are sex and drug use or kink connected? For some, the use of drugs and their sex life have become intertwined. Over the past few years, we have learned that when these two things are linked in one’s mind, they tend to always need to happen together. Dr. David Fawcett, the author of Lust, Men & Meth stresses the need to disconnect the two by taking a break or period of sexual/Kink sobriety, followed by a relearning of sex or kink, in order to create a new connection.
7. Use resources – Recovery in the Lifestyle is a fellowship of both the BDSM lifestyle and those who are in recovery from alcohol and drug use. This is a great resource for connecting to others in the community for support, information and advice.
I hope this has helped anyone in search of their Kink following a newfound sobriety. It’s scary to learn new ways of doing things in general – and for many of us in Recovery, we may have never experienced even vanilla sex sober, let alone Kink. At PRIDE Institute, we encourage clients to give themselves a break, be gentle and loving with themselves first and foremost, and to trust their own, individual processes. Life can be unbelievably amazing sober, and experiencing Kink sex without the numbing haze of drug and alcohol use can be one of the most honest and true experiences you might have the pleasure of experiencing in your life. Don’t short yourself out of fear. Be safe, have fun and remember to put your sobriety first.
Written by: Terrance Post, LADC, Sexual Health Counselor