The Chronicles of Sex in Rehab

By Christopher O'Connor 12/17/12

Some say you shouldn't date anyone in the first year of sobriety. So what happens if you hook up in rehab—again and again and again? Nothing good.

One addict is all about the sex

Alicia was a blonde bombshell with all the right curves and thick, lush lips. Angelina Jolie lips. One look and I had to have her. At any cost. She was the answer to all my problems. No one could convince me otherwise—not my counselor, my parents, my lawyer, my prescribing doctor. 

We were residents at a strict segregated rehab in Southern California, and communication between opposite sexes was extremely limited. This made the task of seducing Alicia all the more daunting, more exciting and more intense. I was a serious drug abuser: I’d do anything for intensity.

I started by violating the “sprinkler rule,” a strictly enforced regulation that forbids men and women from holding eye contact for more than three seconds—or around the time it takes for a lawn sprinkler to pass by a patch of grass. I ignored this rule. In fact, for a few days I sat in the lounge gazing intently at Alicia until she noticed. Somehow, she received my message without being creeped out—at least not entirely. But how could I be sure? We had never spoken a word.

Relapse wasn't part of our plan for romance, but really it’s an eventuality in these situations. One falls and the other follows suit. We went from a motel to the street in a matter of hours. A housekeeper called the police because our room was covered in blood spatter. Alicia had punched me in the face. Why? Because I asked her to.

So how could I make real contact? Beyond the restricted communication between sexes, communication with the outside world was limited. At this facility phone use was forbidden for the first 90 days. Staff searched incoming mail for drugs. However, residents could leave with an approved sponsor to attend a 12-step meeting. Alas, an opportunity presented itself.

I wrote Alicia a lavish love note. I knew she came from Washington State, because she said so during one of her inter-group shares. Feigning a return address with a relative’s name from Washington, I hid my love note in the midst of a banal family update. I had to throw the dogs off the scent. I didn't want to get caught (the days of bolting from rehab hand in hand were yet to come.) And so I mailed the silly note to the treatment center we were residents at while I was on a "sponsor pass" at a meeting. I told her in the letter to destroy the letter after she read it. Thus was born one of the great rehab romances—which is to say one of the great rehab trainwrecks.

Weeks passed before Alicia and I were able to actually get together; it was well worth the wait. Undoubtedly, neither of us had done it in a while. Forbidden rehab sex certainly beat those boring meetings and gruesome group sessions. For a moment, my mind wasn't weighted down by my fucked-up past or the seemingly insurmountable task of getting sober.

So how did it end with Alicia? Not good. Really bad. We left treatment and went on an ugly run together. Relapse wasn't part of our plan, but it’s an eventuality in these situations. One falls and the other follows suit. I fell first. We went from hotel to motel to friend’s house to the street. It all happened fast. At one point, a housekeeper summoned the police because a hotel room was badly damaged and covered in blood spatter. Alicia had punched me in the face because I asked her to. The cops separated us for questioning. We both had the same story:

Alicia: “He asked me to punch him in the face.”

Me: “I asked her to punch me in the face.”

The cops conferred with each other in the corner of the busted-up hotel room, one shaking his head in disbelief, the other scratching his in confusion. Why would someone do such a thing? This was day two after our relapse. By the final day, Alicia was pushing me around in a shopping cart; I had hurt my feet from repeatedly injecting cocaine into their veins. We stole 40s and beef jerky from a market and then had sex in a dugout at a baseball field.

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Christopher O’Connor - a freelance addiction writer who worked for the company Family Healing Strategies.

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