Alcohol and Sex Addiction
When people succumb to the allure of alcohol, it can lead them down a path of self-destruction. This destruction can come in a number of ways, including co-occurring disorders like sex addiction.
The Relationship Between Alcohol and Sex Addiction
Addiction to or abuse of alcohol and sex addiction are very commonly present alongside one another. This is a significant problem, as the two frequently make each other worse and more damaging.
What Is Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction is a compulsive desire to have intercourse or sexual contact of some kind. While most people think this must be strictly done with a partner, it can also include masturbation on one’s own. In fact, sex addictions can be so severe that they begin to pull time away from an individual’s personal and professional life, possibly even encompassing their every waking thought and damaging their relationships. Sometimes, sex addicts won’t even find pleasure in sexual activity. Rather, they will simply have a moment of ecstasy, and then move on to the next moment, similar to people who are addicted to alcohol. One time is never enough.
Sex Addiction as a Co-Occurring Disorder
Dependence on alcohol and sex addiction have a lot of commonalties. First, despite both being legal, they can be very detrimental to an individual’s life, such as causing feelings of isolation and, potentially, depression. They can both lead to erratic, violent behavior, either towards other’s or themselves. Also, when paired together, the two behaviors can reinforce each other, causing sufferers to consume alcohol when they can’t get gratification from sex and look for sex when they can’t have access to alcohol.
Going to a bar to pick someone up has become somewhat of a trope in TV and movies. However, like most tropes, this has some grounding in reality. In particular, the liquid confidence that alcohol provides can help people lose their insecurities to go talk to someone. This is one of the reasons that people find the substance so addictive. Then, partnered with the endorphin rush from sex, the mind and body can make a powerful association between both feelings. Soon, someone who was once just turning to alcohol as a way to help them have sex will become someone who needs alcohol, not just to have sex, but to function at all.
Symptoms of Sex Addiction
People who suffer from sex addiction won’t have control over their impulses. Similar to how someone is addicted to alcohol, they will feel compelled to have sex and resort to extreme measures to have it. This means anything from cheating on a significant other to paying for sex. There are many signs and symptoms that someone could be suffering from sex addiction, some of them include:
- Having sex with multiple partners despite wanting to commit
- Sex drive interfering with other commitments
- Engaging in excessive sexual activities, even when you don’t want to
- Failed attempts to limit sexual activity
- Only doing things related to or that could lead to sex
- Cancelling other obligations in the pursuit of sex
- Engaging in sexual behavior that hurts other relationships
- Escalating sexual activity to achieve the same “high”
- Experiencing negative feelings when going for a period of time without sex
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Finding Treatment for Sex Addiction
Just because someone may exhibit one or more of the above symptoms does not mean an individual necessarily has a sex addiction. However, that doesn’t mean they should be discounted. Anyone who is suffering from one or more of these symptoms should feel comfortable enough to reach out to someone. This is especially true where abuse of alcohol and sex addiction might both be present. If you or someone you love are looking for help with alcohol and sex addiction, try reaching out to a compassionate provider. They are available to speak anonymously and help you find a program if necessary.
Clinical Reviewer — Last Reveiwed: April 24, 2019
Fong, Timothy W. (2006). Understanding and Managing Compulsive Sexual Behaviors. Retrieved on November 15th, 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2945841/
Herkov, Michael PhD. (2018). What is Sexual Addiction. Retrieved on November 15th, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-sexual-addiction/
Herkov, Michael PhD. (2018). Symptoms of Sexual Addiction. Retrieved on November 15th, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-sexual-addiction/
LaPierre, Jim. (2014). Treating Co-occurring Sex & Substance Addictions. Retrieved on November 15th, 2018, from https://www.choosehelp.com/topics/sex-addiction/treatment-for-co-occurring-sex-substance-addictions
Psychology Today. (2018). Hypersexuality (Sex Addiction). Retrieved on November 15th, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/hypersexuality-sex-addiction
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