What Is Paired Substance/Sex Addiction?
Countless men pair and eventually fuse the use and abuse of substances with sexual behavior. (This is sometimes referred to as chemsex.) Often, this involves a stimulant drug like cocaine or methamphetamine, though alcohol and other drugs are also commonly used in conjunction with sex. There are many ways in which this pairing occurs, any of which can create a mutually reinforcing pattern. Over time, substance use and sexual behavior can be paired together so often that they fuse into a single behavior. If you’re doing one, you’re also doing (or you’re about to do) the other.
What Does Paired Substance Use and Sexual Behavior Look Like?
Dr. David Fawcett, Seeking Integrity’s VP of Clinical Programming, is a universally acknowledged expert on the pairing of drug use and sexual behavior. Dr. Fawcett has identified the following variations of paired/ substance/sex behavior.
- Alcohol/Drugs Used for Sexual Disinhibition: Some individuals use the disinhibiting and confidence-building properties of alcohol and other drugs to overcome fears about sexual desires and behaviors or to overcome feelings of low self-worth in sexual settings.
- Alcohol/Drugs Used to Numb Sexual Shame: Some individuals use the dissociative (numbing) properties of alcohol and other drugs to reduce the shame, anxiety, stress, guilt, and depression they feel about their sexual orientation, gender identity, or sexual behaviors in general.
- Cycling Drug and Sex Behavior: This is a pattern where substance use and sexual behavior alternate over a period of time – usually a few days to several months. Some people engage in one behavior in an attempt to control the other. (For example, “I don’t want to look at porn anymore, so I’ll drink or get high instead.”)
- Ritualized Drug Use and Sex: This is a ritualized cycle of addiction where the user devotes a great deal of time and energy to planning for drug and sex behaviors – clearing his/her schedule, lining up a supply of drugs and sex partners, creating time for ‘recovery’ after a binge, etc.
- Paired Drug Use and Sexual Behavior: This is a pattern of drug use (usually a stimulant drug) paired with sexual behavior (porn, prostitutes, strip clubs, etc.) to the point where thoughts of one behavior automatically trigger thoughts of the other. A sexual thought will trigger the desire to use drugs, and drug thoughts will trigger the desire to be sexual.
- Fused Drug Use and Sex Behavior: This is the longer-term result of paired drug use and sexual behavior – to the point where the two behaviors are fused, resulting in one behavior being dependent on the other. This is often characterized by an escalation in both drug use and sexual behavior, as tolerance to the intensity builds over time.
Specialized Treatment is Available
Seeking Integrity offers specialized treatment for men for whom the paired use of substances and sex has spiraled out of control. Our basic program lasts two weeks, extendable to three or four weeks depending on client needs. 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.
Whatever form the pattern takes, linking substance use and sexual behaviors can become a serious issue requiring specialized treatment, as offered by Seeking Integrity. Click here to learn about our residential treatment programming, or click here to learn about our weekend workshops. You can also contact us with questions via email or phone us at . (747) 234-HEAL (4325)