We know that substance use can lead to abuse and addiction, but can it contribute to other kinds of addiction, such as sex addiction? We tend to think of our drug use and our sexual lives as separate, but for those of us struggling with addiction, they can be very much related and intertwined. As we know, drug use can lower our inhibitions, make us less cautious and cause us to become reckless. Risky and even dangerous behaviors are suddenly less scary. Taking chances with our health becomes less intimidating. We don’t always know what causes our addictions, and there are often multiple underlying causes. When it comes to struggling with sex addiction, many of us find that our drug use was a contributing factor.
Drinking and using drugs can cause us to abandon our concerns for our sexual health, so we might be more inclined to have unsafe sex when we’re drunk or high, when we might not have if we had been sober. We might choose partners we might not have chosen otherwise. Many of us have issues with our sexuality and feel afraid when being intimate with another person. This fear can come from traumatic experiences we’ve had, from our own insecurities, or from our relationships being unhealthy or unsafe for us. We might feel as though we need drugs or alcohol to loosen ourselves up. Sometimes we feel we can’t have sex without first drinking or using drugs. When we are addicted to alcohol or another substance, we can easily find ourselves forming a dependence on sex that started with our drug use. We might feel like we need sex just like we feel we need our drug of choice. Both our substance abuse and our sexual behaviors can become compulsive and self-destructive. In this way, one could argue that alcohol and other drugs can function as gateway drugs for sex and lead to sex addiction.
Our behavioral patterns don’t usually function in isolation. Everything we do and feel affects everything else in our lives. If we have an unhealthy attachment to one substance, chances are we’ll have a similarly unhealthy attachment with something else in our lives. The same emotional patterns contributing to one form of dependence can easily contribute to another. If we’re not equipped to handle our emotions in healthy ways, for example, we might turn to one drug, and then another, to help us cope. Sex functions like a drug for many of us. It can be how we try to relieve our pain and distract ourselves from our troubles. If we’ve already developed a substance abuse problem, it can easily function as a gateway drug to other addictions such as sex addiction.
Our treatment programs incorporate therapy, recovery meetings and mindfulness education, to help you address the root causes of your addiction in a supportive and caring environment. Call (800) 871-5440 for more information.