Sex addiction covers a wide range of sexual behaviors that negatively impact a person’s life, which can lead to substance abuse. Dual-diagnosis cases of sex addiction and alcohol/drug addiction can be treated in several drug rehab centers.
Sex addiction, otherwise known as hypersexual disorder, affects people who develop obsessive-compulsive sexual thoughts and who fail to control or postpone their sexual urges and actions. This sexual behavior thus negatively impacts their life, to the point of threatening romantic, familial, and personal relationships.
Unlike people with high active libidos but otherwise healthy relationships with their partners, those afflicted with sex addiction will become preoccupied with the pursuit of sex, thus allowing the “sexual fix” to consume more energy and time as the condition worsens. Sexual urges become more important than family, career or other daily responsibilities, and even their own health as sex addicts put themselves at more risk to achieve satisfaction.
Many sex addicts struggle with forming genuine intimacy with their sexual partners and may not build any attachment at all.
Just as how there are many ways to have sex, there are also many types of sex addictions to match.
Sexual behavior covers a whole range of exciting activities that could be healthy for couples should both partners be consenting adults. For example, couples who engage in fetish play, watch pornography together, or do mutual masturbation are not in danger of forming sex addictions, provided they continue to maintain active communication and consent throughout their relationship. The same goes for single individuals, who continue to practice safe sex and communication with each partner they have.
However, it is when sexual behavior is being performed without consent that issues are formed, especially if sexual behavior becomes a dominant activity in a person’s life. As such, obsessive or compulsive acts of the following may indicate a sex addiction:
Obsessively or compulsively watching pornography; preferring pornography over sex with partner
Compulsive masturbation; masturbating in inappropriate locations or in front of other individuals without their consent
Committing multiple acts of adultery with several different partners without forming intimate emotional connections; cheating for the sake of sex, not because of dissatisfaction with the relationship
Engaging in prostitution as a thrill instead of financial necessity; having sex with prostitutes on numerous occasions or routine basis
Going out of one’s way to engage in sexual activities with strangers
Using internet chat rooms or instant messengers for sexual play with other people online; using webcam live feeds to masturbate with sexual partners
Sending erotic text messages to individuals, be it revealing photos and/or erotic descriptions of sexual acts; describing erotic acts over the phone
Performing sexual acts with the intention of being seen by others; having sex in public
Watching others having sex, masturbating, getting dressed, or showering without their knowledge; “peeping Tom” behavior
Intentionally having unprotected sex to satisfy sexual urges; spreading STDs knowingly without informing sexual partner
Allowing fetish behavior to take over one’s life, which may lead to financial strains on person’s bank account, taboo behavior, and sexual assault
WARNING SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF SEX ADDICTION
Sex addiction can manifest itself in various ways, which is why the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders continues to struggle with how to properly define the disorder. Sexuality continues to be a fluid and evolving subject in the psychiatric world, so while someone may have a high libido, they may not necessarily have a sex addiction.
As with any addiction, negative effects will begin to occur as the condition worsens. So, to spot when a sex addiction may be in play, it’s crucial to notice if the person feels or is doing the following:
Being secretive about sexual activities
Engaging in reckless, sexual behavior purposefully (e.g. knowingly having unprotected sex, being with prostitutes, draining finances despite bills)
Using sex, porn, or masturbation as a method to cope with or deal with life’s problems
Having sex in inappropriate places and/or times, possibly also with inappropriate people
Choosing sex/pornography/masturbation over daily responsibilities, e.g. going to work/school
Preferring to watch porn over having sex with partner
Losing count of past sexual partners or forgetting how many partners you slept with the night before
Believing sex makes life bearable and can fill an emotional void, despite feeling lonelier or “empty inside” after each act
Finding yourself having sex with people you don’t have any desires toward, yet still complying
Feeling that sexual pursuits are taking over your life and distract you from your goals, work, and peace of mind
Having performed so many sexual acts, you no longer feel satisfaction or regular arousal, e.g. doing more extreme acts in order to climax, no longer able to orgasm, feeling depressed and alone after a sexual act
Feeling separation anxiety when away from your sexual partner or getting intense cravings for sex/porn/masturbation after not doing it for a few hours, a day, or longer
Failing to stop dangerous sexual behavior, despite wanting to control sexual urges
Believing that sex is the main point of relationships or life
Allowing your sexual life to affect your personal and work life, e.g. marital affairs, sexual harassment lawsuits against you, arrest for sex-related offenses like voyeurism or exhibitionism
Feeling shame over the frequency of your sexual acts or the thoughts you have
Needing to have a constant sexual partner or sexual fix
Continuing to engage in sexual behavior, despite the detriment of relationships, friendships, work, and/or personal reputation
CONSEQUENCES OF SEX ADDICTION
Sex addiction can lead to severe consequences, which may not always be reversible even with treatment. Some major effects of sex addiction are:
Safe sex isn’t always the main priority when a person is struggling to control a sex addiction, which can leave all individuals involved vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and other venereal diseases. While some conditions can be treated with antibiotics (e.g. gonorrhea, chlamydia), other infections do not have cures and are lifelong diseases (e.g. genital and oral herpes). Unprotected sex can also spread the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which may be treated until it progresses to AIDS and eventually death.
With unprotected sex can come the opportunity for unplanned pregnancies, be it for the female sex addict or a female partner of the male sex addict. Couples who aren’t prepared to raise a child will then be confronted with how to financially prepare for an expected baby, whether the child will be put up for adoption, or whether abortion is an option. This difficult situation can put psychological strain on both parents, along with feelings of guilt, shame, and regret. Social outcast may also be experienced from family members, friends, or other partners if the pregnancy was a result of an affair or out of wedlock.
Several issues can develop within relationships if one partner is struggling with a sex addiction, most notably: lack of trust, resentment, financial strain, divorce, and child custody battles. Emotional disengagement may occur for both parties until the relationship ends. Legal concerns may also arise should a partner contract an STD from the sex addict or be a victim of sexual assault and/or rape, especially in domestic marriage cases.
Like many other addictions, sex addiction can have a dual-diagnosis with other mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This may be the result of the profound psychological effects sex addiction can have on a person or the trigger to use sex, porn, or masturbation as self-coping mechanisms. It is important to address these concerns through psychiatric therapy and treatment, especially if suicidal thoughts begin to occur.
HOW SEX ADDICTION AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE CAN MIX
A 1991 study by Dr. Patrick Carnes in Minnesota found that 42% of sex addicts also had problems with either alcohol or drug dependencies, and since then other research has estimated that about 40% to 64% of sex addicts also may have a substance use disorder.
Mixing substances and sex is such common practice that it isn’t too surprising to hear that sex addicts may have a dual-diagnosis with substance abuse. These substances can be used as a catalyst and enhancement to sex or as a method to self-cope with the repercussions of one’s compulsive sexual behavior.
Yet, by associating substance abuse with sexual acts, a person can cause severe psychological damage to their perception of sexuality and arousal on top of developing physical dependencies to the drugs they use.
Some of the drugs used with sex most commonly are:
Often used to lower inhibitions, sex addicts frequently use alcohol as a “breaking of the ice” before a sexual experience. However, when abused at toxic levels, e.g. blackouts, questions of sexual assault and/or rape can come into play.
Said to be an aphrodisiac, the use of cannabis with sex has become more commonplace over the years. A 2009 study showed that marijuana use led to users having more sexual partners than those who didn’t smoke or consume the substance.
Used in “chemsex” parties, where users use crystal meth to have intense sex marathons for hours to days at a time, this stimulant can be abused to the point that sex addicts will not be able to become aroused or perform sex without the drug.
The combination of mephedrone GHB/GBL can also be used with crystal meth, and is normally seen in LGBTQ+ scenes, especially among gay men and “party and play” events.
Known as the “love drug” in its ecstasy days, MDMA remains a party drug in dance clubs and concerts that promote intimacy and potentially dangerous sexual behavior, such as having unprotected sex.
Another stimulant used for sexual enhancement, cocaine use can temporarily increase sexual stamina, but chronic use will lead to sexual deficiencies and can potentially trigger heart attacks during sexual intercourse.
“Ambien sex” is the act of purposefully staying awake after taking sleeping pills to have sexual intercourse. The high is said to enhance the sexual experience, but sleeping pill abuse can lead to withdrawal symptoms that can be potentially life-threatening.
While it is rare to develop an addiction to Rohypnol, or roofies, it should be mentioned that the drug can be wrongfully used to drug people with the intent of committing sexual acts without their consent. Known for rendering users unconscious and unable to remember events the night before, this drug is used in several sexual assault and rape cases.
GET TREATMENT FOR SEX ADDICTION AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE
Sex addiction remains a hot debate in the addiction treatment community, with many questioning whether or not the disorder is legitimate. However, when sex addiction begins to transcend into alcohol and drug abuse, there’s no question that treatment needs to get involved.
If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol or drug addiction, but also suspect there may be a dual-diagnosis of sex addiction involved, then it is important to find the right drug treatment center that will acknowledge both issues. Drug Treatment Center Finder can help you find the drug rehab that will cater to all of your needs, not just one.
Call our 24-hour helpline at (855) 619-8070, and one of our agents will guide you in the right direction. You don’t have to feel alone anymore.