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Substance Use and Sexual Shame

Understanding Sexual Shame

No shame is more powerful than sexual shame. Often, sexual shame is linked to unresolved early-life sexual trauma. People who experience sexual abuse, neglect, violence, verbal abuse, narcissistic parenting, and other types of early-life trauma, especially if that trauma is somehow sexual in nature, often struggle as adults with poor relationship choices, chronic infidelity, sex/porn addiction, and substance abuse.

What Does Sexual Shame Look Like?

Ways in which sexual shame drives paired substance/sex behaviors include:

  • Using to enjoy (or tolerate) sex.
  • Using while re-enacting various forms of unresolved sexual trauma (as an attempt to master it or take control over it).
  • Using to numb shame about specific (often hidden and unwanted) sexual desires like same-sex or transgender attractions.
  • Using to numb shame about sexuality in general, as if sex is something dirty and to be avoided.
  • Using as a way to disinhibit oneself sexually.
  • Using to escape the emotional discomfort that (for some) sets in after sex.
  • Using to overcome chronically low self-esteem – to feel empowered and more attractive in the pursuit of sex.

Identifying and Overcoming Sexual Shame

Whatever is driving the behavior, the pairing of substances with sex can become a serious issue requiring specialized treatment, as offered by Seeking Integrity. If you think you or a loved one may be struggling with paired substance use and sexual behaviors, we suggest you take this anonymous 25-question substance use and sexual disorders screening test. You can also contact us with questions via email or phone us at (747) 234-HEAL (4325).

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