Sex, Drugs, and Addiction

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged on by .

Dr. David Fawcett

Addictions dissociate users from uncomfortable feelings by numbing or distracting them from emotional pain. Many sex and porn addicts are drawn to stimulant drugs as well as sex and porn. These substances, when combined with sex, feed a desire for intensity and connection. More importantly, combining stimulants and sex dissociates the user from low self-worth, shame, and other inhibitions. As Dr. Rob Weiss wrote in his book, Cruise Control, “Regardless of their particular sexual interest, the sex addict’s real goal is to maintain his state of emotional euphoria through fantasy and cruising. Many sex addicts describe this hyperarousal state as being in the trance or the bubble.”[i]

The potent mood-changing power of high-intensity, dopamine-related addictions such as stimulant drug addiction, pornography addiction, and sex addiction creates a super-stimulating effect that resets the brain’s reward circuitry, essentially hijacking the nature of the activities and behaviors that give us pleasure. Because stimulant drugs are highly dissociative and because they heighten sexual desire when they are coupled with porn or other sexual behaviors, they represent a perfect storm for individuals seeking to escape from their everyday lives.

Unfortunately, and over time, intensity-based addictions can change the brain in ways that impact the trajectory of recovery. Extensive research on the impact of methamphetamine, for example, has revealed much about its unique properties. Dr. Nora Volkow of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), among other researchers, has identified meth’s long-term damage to the reward circuitry of the brain.[ii] She and others have found that the damaged pathways regenerate but the process takes up to two years, during which time the emotional and cognitive abilities of the recovering person can be seriously impacted. For example, a person might have difficulty experiencing pleasure, they may have fuzzy thinking, they may be impulsive, and they are often hopeless, depressed, and highly susceptible to triggers and cravings for both drugs and sex.

* * * * * * * * * *

If you or a loved one are struggling with sex, porn, or 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. 

* * * * * * * * * *

[i] Weiss, M. R. (2013). Cruise control: Understanding sex addiction in gay men. eBookIt. com.

[ii] Volkow, N. D., Chang, L., Wang, G. J., Fowler, J. S., Franceschi, D. Sedler, M., … & Logan, J. (2001). Loss of dopamine transporters in methamphetamine abusers recovers with protracted abstinence. Journal of Neuroscience, 21(23), 9414-9418.