Addictions create consequences that are beyond the imagination of most users when they first experiment with an addictive substance or behavior. Users are initially attracted to these substances or behaviors by the powerful and immediate psychological rewards (including both feelings of pleasure and relief/distraction from emotional discomfort). But when addiction sets in (and even before that), things can rather quickly fall apart. Users eventually and inevitably experience physical, psychological, interpersonal, and spiritual consequences. The physical impacts of sex, drug, and paired sex and drug addiction are covered in this post. Other consequences will be discussed in the upcoming weeks.
Sex addiction, drug addiction, and sexualized drug use all result in serious physical consequences. If sex is part of the addiction, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are at the top of the list – everything from HIV and Hepatitis B and C to largely treatable issues like gonorrhea and syphilis. Hepatitis B and C are threats to drug users, too, even when addictive sex does is not part of the equation. The same is true with numerous other STIs, in particular syphilis.
Other dangerous physical consequences of drug, sex, and paired drug/sex addiction include:
- Liver and kidney damage, as these organs can be damaged by substance abuse
- Stress-related illnesses, as stress arises from living a double life, managing other consequences, etc.
- Cardiac complications such as hypertension, heart attacks, and stroke, especially among those who abuse amphetamines
- Respiratory failure, especially among those who abuse GHB/GBL (gamma hydroxybutyrate).
- Sexual assault, especially among those use GHB/GBL, which are close cousins of Rohypnol, the so-called date rape drug
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Increased risk of social violence
Interestingly, stepping away from sex addiction, drug addiction, and sexualized drug use can also have physical consequences, as most users will experience withdrawal symptoms to varying degrees. Opioids, for example, create an intense and uncomfortable withdrawal, although such withdrawal is typically not life-threatening. Alcohol, on the other hand, can create potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms. Benzodiazepines also create a dangerous withdrawal, with psychological and physical symptoms, including seizures. Detoxification from alcohol and benzodiazepines is dangerous and should always be medically supervised.
If you or someone you care about is struggling with drug addiction, sex addiction, or sexualized drug use, professional help is available at Seeking Integrity, and free resources can be found on our affiliated SexandRelationshipHealing.com website.