In a previous post, we discussed the fact that people who pair drug use with sexual behavior typically discover, usually in relatively short order, that the super-stimulating effects of this combination can hijack their sexual desire, distorting who and what it is that turns them on. In the previous article, we focused on the neurochemistry of this process – how the pairing of drugs and sex increases the desire to objectify and decreases the ability to feel empathy. This week, we focus on common complications brought about by the pairing of drugs (especially stimulant drugs) and sexual behavior.
These issues include:
- Reduced Sexual Inhibitions. Psychological controls that limit sexual behaviors are weakened under the influence of drugs. Powerful emotions such as shame, guilt, and anxiety that normally dampen erotic thoughts are minimized. Someone who is typically inhibited about pursuing sexual liaisons will become fearless with the heightened stimulation of paired drug use and sex, throwing self-consciousness aside and feeling transformed into a different person, perhaps engaging in sexual behavior that he or she later regrets.
- Escalation of Erotic Fantasies. The pairing of drugs and sex disinhibits the erotic imagination. It allows dormant and repressed sexual thoughts, feelings, and fantasies to rise and manifest as real behavior, sometimes to the shock of the user. Moreover, because of tolerance (more on this in a future post), erotic fantasies and desires will constantly escalate.
- Violating Taboos and Personal Values. Many people who engage in sexualized drug use find themselves breaking taboos and reveling in outrageous behavior. This is especially likely for those who have felt bound by individual and social restraints. Profiles on sex networking apps and sites often emphasize not only unprotected sex but a wide variety of other demeaning, abusive, or unsafe scenarios. Individuals sometimes find that their sexual attractions change, such as the self-described heterosexual man who suddenly finds himself desiring transvestites.
- Lack of Impulse Control. Diminished impulse control is related to the disinhibiting nature of most drugs. These drugs disinhibit the user, resulting in impulsive behavior, including high-risk sexual activities. Poor judgment and serious consequences often result. For example, I have heard clients say, “There could be a bowl of condoms on the bed next to me and I wouldn’t even consider interrupting my sexual lust to use one.”
- Indiscriminate Sex Partners. Most people who pair drugs and sex find that their choice of partners quickly becomes indiscriminate. Concern about the HIV or Hepatitis C status of a partner is frequently overlooked. In addition to a willingness to have sex with just about anyone, the number of sexual partners also rapidly escalates. This is especially likely with stimulant drugs. Men and women using meth typically report hundreds of sex partners.
- Increased Sexual Duration. It is not uncommon for people who pair drugs and sex to find that many hours or even days have passed while they were active in their addiction. Meth users often describe meth-sex binges lasting 48 hours or even longer. But not without cost. Sometimes they find that they can’t stop being sexual even after physical exhaustion and dehydration set in. All other basic needs are set aside. Many users’ lives quickly deteriorate as their exclusive focus becomes drugs, sex, and more of each.
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If you or someone you care about is struggling with sex, porn, or substance/sex addiction, help is available. Seeking Integrity offers inpatient treatment for sex, porn, and substance/sex addicts, as well as low-cost online workgroups. At the same time, SexandRelationshipHealing.com offers a variety of free webinars and drop-in discussion groups, podcasts, and more.