Sex and Cross or Co-Occurring Addictions

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Erin Snow

Many sex and porn addicts find that they have more than one addiction. Generally, these secondary issues are referred to as cross- or co-occurring addictions. Individuals who are cross-addicted switch from one addiction to another, whereas people with co-occurring addictions deal with multiple addictions simultaneously.

Examples of cross-addiction include:

  • Dan, a married father of two, alternates between porn binges and heavy drinking. He uses porn until he feels so ashamed that he decides to stop, and then he starts drinking. He continues with the drinking until he feels so ashamed that he decides to stop, but then he starts to use porn again.
  • After leaving treatment for sex addiction, Richard, who had never struggled with his weight while active in his addiction, gained 40 pounds in less than a year, replacing addictive sex with another escapist behavior—compulsive eating.

Examples of co-occurring addiction include:

  • Michelle began drinking and using drugs in her early teens after she was sexually abused by a family member. At the same time, she struggled with her adolescent desire to explore her sexuality, so she began using porn compulsively, usually while drinking or getting high. Eventually, substance abuse and looking at porn became one and the same. When she was high, she used porn. When she used porn, she was high.
  • Evan, a young gay man, loves going to sex clubs when he’s high on crystal meth. Every night after work, he does a few “bumps” and goes out for sex. After that, all he cares about is sex—the kinkier, the better. Sometimes he has sex with multiple partners over the course of six or eight hours.

Cross and co-occurring addictions are relatively common among sex porn addicts. Unfortunately, when multiple addictions are in play, treatment and recovery become more difficult. Pairing porn with another addiction is double the trouble in terms of both potential consequences and risk for relapse. At Seeking Integrity, our strongly held belief is that when multiple addictions are present, they must be addressed simultaneously. Otherwise, the addict is unlikely to heal from any of the addictions.

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If you or a loved one are struggling with sex, porn, or paired substance/sex addiction, Seeking Integrity can help. In addition to residential rehab, we offer low-cost online workgroups for male sex addicts and male porn addicts new to recovery. Click HERE for information on our Sex Addiction Workgroup. Click HERE for information on our Porn Addiction workgroup.