For many people who struggle with substance abuse, they rely on other escapist behaviors as well. Substance abuse, sex addiction and the link in between can go hand in hand. People seek treatment for substance abuse in recovery centers, but only treat the substance abuse addiction. For some, people related sex to relapse. They were partaking in casual sex, prostitution, porn and other addictions with sex. The feeling of euphoria is often attempted to be emulated and addicts do what they can to achieve it.
How Substance Abuse, Sex Addiction are Linked
Many have linked substance abuse to intimacy issues. SAID (Substance Abuse Intimacy Disorders) programs have been opening across the U.S to address these disorders. The program focuses on sex during sobriety without relapsing and dealing with perception of an addict’s shame for specific behaviors they might enjoy but don’t speak up about.
Human connection and intimacy is so important. It’s the fiber of life. As some of us have experienced first hand, when addiction takes over, we rarely have time or energy for other things in our life. Relationships are harder to maintain, it’s impossible to get close with people on a personal level, and substances literally alter our brain chemistry. Some substances increase sex drive while others completely diminish it. Substance abuse has been shown to increase promiscuous sex, sex with many partners, and sex with strangers because there isn’t a need for connection. Being sexually free is liberating but also one needs to be careful and safe. It becomes an issue of lack of intimacy and deep down that can become an increasingly lonely feeling.
According to Bradford Health, some addicts don’t even enjoy sex. “ It is the brain’s chemical release that compels them to engage in high-risk sexual behaviors, such as anonymous partners, unprotected sex, and excessive masturbation. After the high has worn off. However, they are left with feelings of guilt, shame, and remorse. This emotional aftermath can feel unbearable, and substance abuse is a way to avoid inner turmoil.” (Bradford Health Services, The Link Between Drug Addiction and Sexual Addiction, 2017.)
Creating a Balanced Lifestyle
Often sex addiction is at the core of drug addiction but is usually overlooked in treatment programs. An addict will likely have to rewire their ideas about sex and intimacy. It’s something that can be a major stressor for substance abusers or those in recovery. Addicts need to restructure their self-esteem and confidence levels. This is something that is touched on in recovery, but sexual issues need to be addressed as well. Sex addiction can be destructive to people we love and care about and it can cause relapse. Ultimately, a balanced healthy life in all aspects is required for recovery and self growth.
We need to be more open as a society. Hear each others thoughts and not shame people for the way they feel. Creating a more open society will allow people to be more honest about themselves and hopefully lead to a healthier and happier life with strong relationships.
By: Erica T.