Sex Addiction and Substance Abuse: The Connection

The diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder comes when a person suffers from compulsive use of alcohol or other drugs that causes significant impairment to function, health, causing disability, or makes a person unable to keep up with daily responsibilities such as taking care of children, working, or going to school. A significant factor in the diagnosis is that there is evidence showing an impairment in control – or loss of control over this action or behavior, risky use and behaviors, social impairment, and pharmacological criteria being met.

Sex addiction isn’t always what you think – did you know that sex addiction can involve viewing pornography, excessive masturbation, sexting, compulsively engaging in sex with multiple partners, sometimes even pedophilia and exhibitionism/voyeurism. We’ve certainly seen a couple of movies or tv shows that featured someone who was addicted to sex and let’s just say it’s not really an accurate portrayal of the real deal.

Compulsive sexual behavior as a disorder is often seen when an individual faces repetitive and persistent impulses to engage in sexual acts or behaviors that are simply uncontrollable or irresistible, this behavior leads to a hyper focus on sexual behaviors being repeated, becoming the central focus of one’s life, a neglect of other aspects of life such as health, sleep, relationships, and even continuing the behaviors despite increasingly negative behaviors.

Okay, that’s enough, you get the point. So, how are the two connected? The two disorders both require that an individual keep repeating the behavior despite their best efforts to stop and despite facing negative consequences. What’s hugely interesting is that there have been small studies – admittedly only using male, self-identified sex addicts – but the findings were all in all that more than 83% of sex addicts had a co-occurring disorder – depression, anxiety, personality disorders, impulsive control disorders, or substance abuse disorders.

So, the behaviors all, typically, linked. While a focus of many treatment programs for any range of addiction is cessation of the addiction and sobriety, the focus should be turned to the underlying problem. Without finding out what the underlying issue is, the symptoms may persist – or the person may move from one addiction to another to cope with the underlying issue.

When you went in for treatment for a substance abuse disorder, did you have therapy sessions or learn anything about yourself and why you fell into the path of addiction?

N.D. “Substance Abuse and Sex Addiction Connection”. The Right Step. (website). 2018
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