The Truth About Rehab Romance

By Lora Somoza 04/21/11

Tramping around during treatment is a definite no-no. But for some lonely people who find themselves in rehab, that’s a hard rule to swallow.

To discourage random hook-ups, many rehabs keep men and women strictly apart

In addition to cigarette smoke and gossip, there’s one constant about rehab: someone is always looking to get laid.

It’s not surprising that if you take away my drugs and alcohol and leave me decaf coffee, sobriety literature, and a crew-cut counselor named Nancy, I’m going to want to feed a different beast. And while you’d be hard pressed to find “random sex with meth head” on the daily schedule sandwiched between equine therapy and silent meditation, people like us are nothing if not skilled at making these hookups happen.
Whether or not you succumb is often a roll of the dice based on who you end up with in the sober cesspool. Meaning: lust has a way of lying dormant if all you have to choose from is a group of old dudes missing half their teeth. But if you get a halfway decent-looking bad boy or the kind of girl momma warned you about, game on, bitches. They may be puking up bile and half dead when they first drag themselves through the doors, but in a week or two? Addicts have an amazing ability to see the potential in other human beings.
We’re also skilled at finding those special little places to share our expressions of love. One of my counselors told me about being in rehab with a pair of classy lovebirds who liked to fool around in the van on the way to and from meetings. They would sit in the back row with a jacket over their laps while she jerked him off. And maybe he even returned the favor by giving her a romantic finger-bang before a Big Book study. Finally one of the other passengers turned them in. All I can think is that the driver had to have the IQ of a box of hair not to notice what was going on. It sounds like they put on a hell of a show.
And it’s always the people you never want to picture having sex that get caught in these situations, isn’t it? Why, you ask yourself, did it have to be the scary dreadlocked man who smelled like hobo taint who was busted getting a blowjob from the bat-shit crazy chick with an affinity for mid-heel naturalizers and bulimia? At least, that’s what a tech I know wondered after he caught the two of them on the roof at 3 a.m. The poor guy actually screamed.
Rest assured that it isn’t just the clients who are getting in on the action. During my first rehab, at the tender age of 17, a tech would write me steamy (meaning sappy-bad) poetry and make out with me when he was supposed to be checking if my bed was made. And on my last trip into treatment, everyone knew that one of the techs was getting it on with an 18-year-old down in detox. Not exactly the kind of one-on-one counseling parents envision when sending their kids off to get cured.
That same rehab enforced a “no talking to members of the opposite sex” rule that wasn’t too effective. Let’s face it: alcoholics are brilliant at being sneaky, conniving and devious. If we want to talk to a member of the opposite sex, we're going to; the forbidden-fruit aspect only sweetens the pot. There were certain secret zones that the techs never thought to check, like the kitchen closet where the mops were kept. This particular closet has seen a lot of action; I know I got a smooch or two in it. But a girl on my floor put my own kisses to shame. She was, at different times, having sex with not one but two guys in that lucky closet before the staff found out and she and one of the dudes got kicked out.
Another loophole in the no opposite-sex talking stricture was that at least a quarter of the population was gay, so the boys could chatty-chat-chat with eachother to their heart’s content. One night my roommate and I were treated to a particularly impressive, uh, “bull session” through the ceiling. The next morning we discovered that the room belonged to two supposedly straight guys who you wouldn’t want to picture eating a sandwich, let alone each other.
But who am I to judge? I’ve certainly been distracted by a man or 12 during the long days and nights of rehab. When you get there, it feels a little like surviving the Titanic. You’ve just barely made it out alive, and now you’re on this life raft in the cold, dark sea. Who wouldn’t want to warm a life raft up?
Lora Somoza is the author of Bliss in the Bedroom and a contributing columnist for the Huffington Post. She is also the host of the weekly radio show "Between the Sheets with Lora Somoza" on
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Lora Somoza is a writer and the host of Between the Sheets with Lora Somoza. You can find her on Linkedin and Twitter.