Sex Addiction and Drug Addiction: What is the Link Between Them?
Most people have the wrong idea about what a sex addiction is. They wrongly assume that when someone is addicted to sex, it’s all about the sexual act itself. This is not true at all. It is not about morality or about sex. Instead, sex addiction is about a compulsion to participate in reckless and destructive behavior as a way to stimulate the brain’s reward system. Sex addicts become addicted to sex because of what they experience when certain chemical changes occur in the brain. Sex addiction has a negative impact on the addict, as well as on family members, and this impact only tends to increase as the condition progresses.
Even so, it might help you to learn as much as you can about sex addiction and why it is so closely intertwined with drug addiction, as well.
It’s really not surprising at all that sex addiction and drug addiction are often linked with each other. There are a lot of reasons why this is the case, and yet, there are still so many clinics and facilities that refuse to treat the two conditions at the same time. This a disservice to people who suffer with these co-occurring disorders, and it’s a much better course of action to treat both conditions together.
Perhaps you or someone you love is suffering with a sex addiction and a drug addiction at the same time. You may have experienced treatment methods that didn’t seem to do much good, only resulted in relapse after relapse. This is an incredibly hopeless feeling for anyone to experience. Fortunately, there is hope available to you in the form of dual diagnosis treatment. Even so, it might help you to learn as much as you can about sex addiction and why it is so closely intertwined with drug addiction, as well.
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What is Sex Addiction?
According to WebMD, a sex addiction refers to a condition that causes people to engage in risky, dangerous behavior that involves sex. However, it is not about sex at all. In fact, it’s more about the underlying problems that a person is dealing with beneath the surface. Issues like stress, anxiety, depression and shame are what drive sex addiction, and they serve to contribute to the risky behaviors that result. Some experts actually prefer to use the term, hypersexual disorder, rather than referring to it as a sex addiction.
No matter what you call it, sex addiction is extremely damaging to everyone involved. Those who are addicted to sex will keep returning to their activities over and over again to experience the high they’re craving. In fact, just like with other types of addictions, someone who is addicted to sex will often experience a worse addiction as time goes on. There is a great deal of isolation and pain that goes along with having a sex addiction, and many times, tolerance occurs. Tolerance is what drives the addict to explore even more risky behaviors as time goes on.
It’s important to note that most sex addicts do not seek out any type of treatment unless they are forced to do so. It usually takes a crisis, such as being caught by a spouse, or experiencing legal problems because of their behaviors.
What are Some Examples of a Sex Addiction, and What Causes it?
Someone who has a sex addiction is overcome by sexual thoughts that are impossible for them to manage. For that reason, this condition is often referred to as hypersexuality, nymphomania, satyriasis, or compulsive sexual behavior. These thoughts take over their daily lives, and they interfere with their ability to work, pursue close relationships or even just go about their daily activities. There are some experts who actually believe that sex addiction is a form of obsessive-compulsive behavior, according to Medical News Today.
Someone who has a sex addiction might participate in any of the following:
- Compulsive masturbation or self-stimulation
- Multiple affairs (extramarital affairs included)
- Frequent one-night stands
- More than one sexual partner
- A compulsion to use pornography
- The frequent practice of cybersex
- Frequent participation with prostitution
There are a number of reasons why someone might become addicted to sex, although researchers aren’t exactly sure why the condition occurs. Some people who have sex addictions come from dysfunctional families, and someone who has been abused (either sexually or physically) is much more likely to have a sex addiction than someone who has not. It is also possible that sex addiction has some genetic roots, as many sex addicts report that there have been others in their families that have suffered with the same condition.
Researchers do believe that there is a chemical imbalance in the brains of those who have sex addictions. This is related to chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin, which are the “feel good” and survival chemicals in the brain. People who have lower levels of these chemicals are much more likely to suffer from a sex addiction.
What are the Effects of Sex Addiction on the Body and Mind?
Sex addiction has an incredibly profound effect on both the mind and the body. If it is not treated properly, the individual who suffers from it will experience increasing feelings of guilt. His or her self-confidence will continually be shaken, and there may be a very low sense of self-worth. It’s very common for people with sex addictions to eventually develop anxiety, depression, or some other type of psychiatric condition.
There are, of course, other complications that come from sex addiction as well. Family relationships are likely to be strained, and there have been many families that have broken up because of sex addiction. Unplanned pregnancies, the risk of sexually transmitted diseases and legal complications are also very real risks.
Far too many people continue on in their sex addictions and they’re too embarrassed to reach out for help. They may feel as though they will be judged by the people they love the most, or even by the clinicians who are treating them for their addictions. As a result, they suffer in silence, and quite often, they turn to drugs as a way to ease the pain they feel inside.
What are the Signs of a Sex Addiction?
Up until recently, sex addiction was largely ignored as a condition all its own. Many of the signs and symptoms of sex addiction are quite similar to other types of mental health conditions, and so sex addiction wasn’t considered to be a “real” condition, even by the best professionals in the country.
Perhaps you have been wondering if you have a sex addiction. Maybe there have been some circumstances in your own life that have made you consider the possibility, but you’re still not sure. It can help to know what some of the diagnostic criteria are that physicians and therapists use when diagnosing a sex addiction. They include:
- A pattern of failing to engage in extreme acts of lewd sex
- A pattern of engaging in these behaviors for a longer period of time than you intended to
- Repeatedly failing in your attempts to stop participating in these behaviors
- Spending a great deal of time obtaining sex or recovering from a sexual experience
- Being preoccupied with preparation for sexual activity
- Becoming violent when you’re expected to fulfill responsibilities related to your job, to social obligations or other responsibilities
- A need to periodically increase the intensity of your sexual behaviors
- Becoming socially isolated because of your sexual behaviors
- Becoming anxious, distressed or even violent if you are not able to engage in sexual behavior at times
If any of these sound like experiences you’re currently having, then you may have a sex addiction that requires immediate treatment.
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The Connection Between Sex Addiction and Drug Addiction
The question many people want an answer to is, how are sex addiction and drug addiction linked to one another? Most people who have sex addictions will use drugs as a way to cope with how they feel. When you have a sex addiction, you will often feel very lonely and isolated from other people. Using drugs helps you cope with these feelings, and they can even ease them for a short period of time. However, the relief that is experienced never lasts for very long. Even so, sex addicts will frequently go back to using just to experience that short burst of relief. Continually doing so can lead to an addiction.
It should also be noted that sex addicts have been found to have chemical imbalances in their brains, and this can be remedied by using certain types of drugs. Because of this, drug use is a way to self-medicate a sex addiction.
How Dual Diagnosis Treatment Can Help with Sex Addiction and Drug Addiction
Up until the 1990s, treatment for mental health conditions like sex addiction and treatment for drug addiction were separated. It was thought that it was better to treat the addiction first, and then offer treatment for the sex addiction once sobriety was reached. This method was found to be problematic because the root causes of addictions were never able to be fully addressed in treatment. Also, treatment methods would often contradict each other, which made it very difficult for people to recover properly.
Dual diagnosis treatment changes this in so many different ways. It allows for both drug addiction treatment sex addiction treatment to occur at the same time. Experts have found that by working together, they were able to produce much better outcomes for their patients. This is done by:
- Making sure every patient gets an accurate diagnosis prior to starting treatment
- Ensuring that all staff members are trained in addiction treatment as well as in mental health treatment
- Putting together individual treatment plans for each patient to improve outcomes
- Providing individual and group therapy that fully addresses each patient’s needs
- Spending time uncovering the source of the addiction so that healing can take place
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Get Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders at Northpoint Recovery
When you have a sex addiction, it quickly takes over your entire life, and it progressively gets worse as time goes on. When sex addiction is coupled with a drug addiction, the situation becomes even more serious, and getting prompt, professional help is the best course of action for you to take. There’s no reason for you to consider getting help for these conditions separately, and doing so is only likely to end in a dangerous relapse. It’s important to note that not all facilities are equipped to treat co-occurring disorders such as sex addiction and drug addiction. However, Northpoint Recovery is.
At Northpoint Recovery, we’ve been able to assist so many people who came to us needing help with sex addictions and simultaneous drug addictions. We understand the stressful situation you’re facing, and we know how badly you want to recover. We have the tools you need to facilitate a successful recovery, and we’d love nothing more than to help you get started.
If you would like to learn more about the dual diagnosis treatment program at Northpoint Recovery, or if you’re ready to get started with your recovery right away, please contact us.