Understanding Sex Addiction and Substance Abuse

Category : Getting Help

Understanding Sex Addiction and Substance AbuseAddiction happens when the brain requires any substance in order to feel at ease. There are at least two main channels of addiction: physical and psychological. Physical addiction happens when the brain needs a substance to function properly. Many addictive drugs cause the body to stop producing its own natural supply of chemicals that regulate mood, anxiety and positivity. As a result, the user will need that substance in order to feel anything close to normal. While the initial draw to the substance may have been the euphoric high it brought, in time the body adapts to the presence of it and the high fades. The need for the drug, however, only intensifies. If the supply of the drug is stopped, the user will go into a potentially severe period withdrawal. Depending on the substance and the intensity of the abuse, withdrawals can last from several days to multiple weeks as detox runs its course.

Psychological addiction, however, is often much harder to conquer than physical addiction. It is caused by subtle changes in neural pathways – the conductors of thoughts and actions – that the brain uses to keep the high going. The chemicals in drugs and alcohol super-stimulate the reward center of the brain. This is the same part of the brain responsible for impulse control, emotions and the reinforcement of behaviors. In many ways these psychological impulses function on a level that is more powerful than rational thought.

How Sex Addiction Works

The system that manages behavior, moods and impulses is a fragile and intricate network of natural brain chemicals and receptors. A wide variety of behaviors can lead to spikes in these chemical systems that can reinforce healthy behaviors (such as exercise) or can reinforce destructive behaviors such as recklessness, violence, gambling or lying. Spikes in these chemicals can cause a wide range of compulsive behaviors that can be just as destructive as any substance abuse.

Sexual activity causes increases in certain brain chemicals and can become powerfully addictive. Substances called “bonding chemicals” are released after sex that seem to aid in relational closeness and commitment. In the case of disconnected sexual activity such as masturbation or promiscuity these bonding chemicals seem to attach people to the activity itself instead of to another person. Some people seem to have a biological predisposition toward addiction, which puts them at an increased risk of developing substance abuse problems and behavioral addiction, or both.

Substance Abuse and Sex Addiction

A person who has developed a behavioral addiction may be at a higher risk for developing a chemical addiction as well. In some cases drugs and alcohol medicate the anxiety, guilt or stress of a sex addiction. Some treatment centers use a process called Dual Diagnosis Treatment to identify any underlying psychological disorders such as sex addiction, obsessive compulsive disorder, personality disorders or anxiety problems. Once these conditions have been identified they can be treated along with the chemical dependency, which greatly increases the likelihood of long-term recovery.

Sex Addiction and Substance Abuse Help

Everyone deserves a life free of controlling and destructive issues. Sex addiction and substance abuse are enemies of healthy minds and healthy relationships. If you are struggling with issues like these we can help. Call our 24 hour, toll-free helpline to speak with our trained counselors who are ready to help you now. We can help you find the most effective treatment plan available for your unique needs. You can break free and we can help. Call today.