There is often a direct connection between unhealthy sexual behavior and substance abuse. Some people use drugs which leads them to risky sexual activity, but others may use drugs and alcohol to treat the emotional side-effects of harmful sexual experiences. Help is available for anyone caught in the seeming maze of psychological pain caused by unhealthy sexual activity and substance abuse.
Sexual Response and Chemical Dependency
The brain controls a wide range of human emotions and physiological responses such as the following:
- Sleeping and waking
- Feelings of sadness, happiness, optimism, fear etc
- Motivation to study, exercise, socialize, etc
- Pain management
- Sexual attraction and response
The reward center of the brain controls these functions and many others by responding to trace chemicals in the bloodstream. Certain behaviors are reinforced – even turned into persistent habits – because chemicals such as endorphins trigger the reward center to repeat those behaviors. Even healthy activities such as exercise can become problematic if the brain becomes addicted to them.
Sexual activity causes the release of endorphins as well as bonding hormones in the bloodstream. While this system is designed to reinforce relationships and to motivate healthy sexual activity it can also cause destructive sexual habits to be formed, such as the following problems:
- Pornography addiction
- Violent or even life-threatening sexual activity such as auto-erotic-asphyxiation
- Emotional bonding to sexually abusive individuals
- Lasting emotional pain and suffering due to childhood sexual abuse
Sexual activity is a normal part of healthy adult life, but dysfunctional and unhealthy sexual activity can lead to disease, depression, accidental injury or death.
Self Medicating Unhealthy Sexual Behavior through Substance Abuse
Drug and alcohol abuse immediately relieve the emotional and psychological pain caused by persistent unhealthy sexual activity. However, this relief never lasts long and almost always leads to yet another burden, addiction. The high brought on by substance abuse directly affects the reward center as well. The brain will crave the relief offered by these substances on a deep emotional level that is much more powerful than rational thought. This psychological addiction can be impossible to conquer without caring, professional help.
Freedom from Unhealthy Sexual Behavior and Addiction
Successful, long-term recovery from chemical dependency and sexual addiction requires physical and emotional treatment. This type of therapy is not available everywhere, but certain programs and facilities specialize in it. These centers develop specialized treatment plans for each individual patient based on their specific needs. Some of the most effective treatment tools include the following:
- Various styles of personal counseling
- Support group meetings
- 12-step programs
- Spiritual and emotional care
- Healthy coping and relaxation skills
- Empowering education about addiction
- Strategic preparation for life after treatment
- Learning new, healthy ways to relate to people
- Establishing healthy relational boundaries
Treating addiction and co-occurring psychological disorders separately is never as effective as addressing them in a holistic and integrated way.
Help with Substance Abuse and Unhealthy Sexual Behavior
Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline any time and let our specially trained counselors answer any questions you may have about unhealthy sexual behavior and substance abuse. They can connect you with the best recovery resources for your specific needs and can even help with treatment logistics. Don’t risk lasting or even irreversible damage to your body, mind or spirit. Call today.