meth and sex seeking integrity

Meth, Sex, and the Dynamic of Power

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More than two and a half million people use methamphetamine every year. For some, meth is a quick way to get a boost of energy and focus. For others, meth is an aphrodisiac, a way to cut loose and enjoy sex to the fullest.

But what really happens when meth and sex are paired? 

While there is no safe level of meth consumption, its combination with sex can be particularly dangerous, leading to self-reinforcing and destructive patterns. At Seeking Integrity, we have seen this firsthand. Our master’s level clinicians work to treat sexual use disorders, including many who have co-occurring meth use and meth use disorders. 

We believe in treating not just the individual, but the entire person – education is a huge part of our process. So today, we’re going to be answering your questions about meth use, the role it plays in sex, and the risks that can come from it.

The Combination of Meth and Sex

The reasons for methamphetamine use will vary from person to person. Some take it as a way to have fun with friends, to experience its sense of euphoria. Some to cope with mental health issues, using the substance as an escape. Others may take it like one would an energy drink, wanting, for a burst of energy after a draining day at work. For many individuals, meth acts as an aphrodisiac, reducing inhibitions and increasing libido.

Taking meth before or during sex is something that has long been associated with the gay community. It even has its own terminology – taking a substance, but especially methamphetamine, in conjunction with sexual behaviors has been named “chemsex”. However, this behavior extends far beyond homosexual individuals and includes people from all walks of life.

“The term ‘chemsex’ originated in the United Kingdom to refer to the behavior of gay men,” says Dr. David Fawcett, consulting therapist with Seeking Integrity, “But if we take a step back, we see this fusion of drugs and sex is not limited to that community by any means.”

Indeed, one study found that some form of substance use before or during sex occurred in up to 36% of young adults, with roughly 7% taking methamphetamine as their drug of choice. 

What Are the Effects of Meth on Sex?

When meth is used, it creates a surge of dopamine in the brain’s reward center. This is combined with increased progesterone activation, as well as boosted norepinephrine and adrenaline levels. In addition to the feelings of euphoria and energy that are hallmarks of stimulants, this can have pronounced effects on sex.

Libido is typically increased, sometimes as much as 2 to 3 times depending on the dosage. Methamphetamine can delay orgasm for men, enabling longer sexual sessions. When paired with already-pleasurable activities like sex, meth floods the brain’s reward circuitry with even higher amounts of dopamine, creating a pronounced euphoric high.

As time goes on, negative side effects can begin to develop. Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and reduced feelings of control are common. Sex becomes less pleasurable. Additional side effects include an inability to feel pleasure generally, as well as physical health impacts such as weight loss, dental deterioration, and skin disease. Prolonged use can even lead to psychosis, depression, and other dyndisorders.

the combination of meth and sex

The Influence of Meth on Risky Sexual Behavior

Meth impairs judgment, leading to an increase in risk-taking behavior. When this is combined with sexual activity, these risks are often amplified. Those who use methamphetamine tend to have more sexual partners than those who do not and are less likely to practice safe sex. 

STD Risks

Combining meth and sexual behaviors heightens risks of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Those who take meth are significantly more likely to contract STDs – nearly 3 times as likely to develop syphilis, and more than 6 times as likely to contract HIV. In large part, this is the result of unsafe sex with an increased number of sexual partners, primarily due to increased libido and reduced inhibitions.

Even for those who knowingly have STDs, meth makes them significantly less likely to practice safe sex – one study finds that less than 25% of individuals taking meth chose to wear a condom, despite knowing they carried an STD. 

Sexual Abuse Risks

Methamphetamine is known to promote aggressive behavior. When this is combined with psychosocial aspects of sex, this can create serious and harmful dynamics.

“Unfortunately, when drugs, especially stimulants, pair with sex, one of the primary effects is an increase in sexual fantasy,” says Dr. Fawcett. “Basically, users will increasingly objectify other people, with a corresponding decrease in empathy. People are reduced to objects without thoughts, feelings, or needs.”

Evidence supports this, with multiple individuals reporting that they can become violent, cruel, and even abusive with their partners when taking methamphetamines during sex. Cases of sexual aggression and coercion, a lack of empathy, and other callous tendencies are prevalent. 

Meth and Sex Addiction

When your partner uses meth as a part of sex more and more frequently, they may begin to develop a meth use disorder, a sex addiction, or likely a combination of both known as a co-occurring disorder. 

The stages of sex addiction involve emotional triggers and escape into fantasy, often from negative emotions, and apply to meth use as well. The high offered by meth can act both as a trigger for sexual compulsion and as an escape from reality. Similarly, the high from sexual fantasy and ritual can act as a trigger for methamphetamine use. As these highs are reinforced by behaviors, fantasies, and neurochemical pathways in the brain, addiction can begin to form.

This is a dangerous combination, as it means that both a meth use disorder and sex addiction can feed off of one another. The euphoric high from taking meth as a part of sex only reinforces the pathways in the brain that promote sexual addiction. This in turn only increases the desire for meth in the future. As this constantly building cycle continues, the high from the two behaviors become tightly interlinked.

While much of sex addiction is focused on fantasy rather than the sex itself, the addition of meth can push your partner to go through this process faster. The increased libido from methamphetamine pushes them to act on their sexual compulsions, which in turn pushes them to start the cycle over again in pursuit of the sexual high of fantasy. As this cycle repeats itself, your partner requires more – or more intense versions – of the same behavior and substance to reach the same escapist high. These behaviors can quickly become compulsive and self-reinforcing.

Addiction itself can have serious physical and mental health consequences. As tolerance builds, your loved one requires higher doses of meth to reach the same level of euphoria. In addition to the physical consequences of methamphetamine, addiction carries serious social and psychological costs. Relationships can be strained, with family and loved ones feeling betrayed. Paranoia, anxiety, and depression can set in as your partner tries and fails to stop these behaviors. It is important to know that this cycle can be broken, no matter a person’s history with meth or sex addiction. Both help and hope are available.

the influence of meth on risky sexual behavior

Getting Help for Meth and Sex Addiction in Sherman Oaks, CA

It can be terrifying to realize that your partner’s meth use has turned into a pattern they can’t break out of. When combined with sex addiction the sense of betrayal can be overwhelming. In these complex situations, treatment for meth use often requires specialized care. Many treatment centers for substance use disorder focus solely on substance use, either marginalizing or ignoring the sexual addiction components. However, this is a mistake. Both need to be addressed in concert.

That’s why finding an addiction treatment partner who specializes in sexual addiction is critical. It’s imperative your partner works with experts who understand not only the devastating impact of meth use but the role of any sexual addiction or behaviors as well. These are not separate behaviors – they are a single co-occurring disorder.

At Seeking Integrity, we are laser-focused on treating sexual addiction. Our staff are masters-level clinicians and addiction specialists, and we are proud to serve clients from all around the world. Know that a path to recovery is always possible – help is available today. To learn more about our world-class treatment options, please reach out to us at 747-234-4325, or through our contact page.  

Integrity. Expertise. Recovery.