Methamphetamine (meth) abuse and addiction come with a myriad of risks and potential adverse consequences, including impulsive, careless, and unsafe sex. Meth use reduces inhibitions and can lead to intercourse with a stranger, unprotected sex, or otherwise risky behavior.
Sexual practices can develop into a behavioral addiction that works to serve the brain in similar ways as meth and other addictive substances. Meth use boosts levels of dopamine, a chemical messenger in the central nervous system (CNS) related to feelings of reward and well-being. Having sexual encounters with others can also increase dopamine and an individual’s pleasure. A person with full-blown sex addiction will seek it out despite the incurrence of adverse consequences, including strained relationships, financial, social, or legal issues, or any other problems that result from this condition.
For these reasons, it’s easy to imagine why a person under the influence of meth would be sexually promiscuous, or that a person with a sex addiction would use a stamina-boosting stimulant. Initially, an individual may be drawn to meth use to enhance and extend a sexual experience. Unfortunately, those who do so are at a high risk of developing a physical dependence on meth and, ultimately, full-blown addiction.
Why These Two Conditions Raise the Risk of Relapse
It is estimated that approximately three-quarters of meth addicts report sex as being the number one reason for relapse. In recovery, sex may not be as enjoyable as it once was, because a person may be no longer able to achieve the boost in dopamine the brain previously produced on meth.
This effect can be a double-whammy for persons addicted to both because, unlike meth abuse, sex is a normal part of life for most people. Moreover, sex addicts in recovery are not required to abstain from sex forever, like those with physical dependence are usually asked to do regarding their drug of choice.
Moreover, abstaining from meth use can be challenging for sex addicts because, at some point, they will probably engage in intercourse. They have already associated sex with intense pleasure, and a meth high can be a significant component of this experience. Ultimately, it may be quite difficult to disentangle these two addictions.
On a chemical level, repeated meth use tends to cause a prolonged decrease in dopamine levels in a person’s brain. Therefore, over time, meth exposure makes it nearly impossible for excessive users to experience pleasure related to any activity without meth, including sex. Meth addicts often fear they will never experience sex that was as satisfying or intense as they did when they were high, making it hard to quit or remain sober for an extended period.
If an individual relapses on meth, his or her inhibitions will be lowered, and they may be more likely to return to unhealthy sexual behavior. At that point, they might not be able to come up with a single reason why they should refrain from risky sex—after all, they are back to using drugs and no longer thinking about their own best interests.
Active sex addicts often tend to feel free to act on their own desires without restrictions. As noted, meth use can decrease a person’s inhibitions, allowing sex addicts free reign over their behaviors, at least in the present. In other words, he or she can do almost anything without incurring feelings of shame or guilt. The stimulating and intoxicating effect of meth can make people fearless, reckless, impulsive, and effectively remove any misgivings that a person may have regarding the fulfillment of their sexual desires.
Consequences of Meth Use
Meth is a highly addictive drug, and regular use can rapidly lead to a wide variety of severe and life-threatening health problems, including the following:
- Severe dental problems
- Track marks from injecting
- Sores and abscesses
- High blood pressure
- Cardiac complications
- Reduced appetite
- Significant weight loss
Meth addicts also commonly face several financial and legal issues stemming from meth manufacturing, selling, and use. They can become very withdrawn and secretive individuals who isolate themselves from family and friends in favor of associating with others who abuse meth or other substances.
Chronic meth use can cause long-lasting and possibly irreversible damage to the brain and body. Former users will typically experience dysphoria for some time, meaning that they will not be able to feel pleasure from the same activities they once did before becoming addicted to meth.
Finally, many meth users fail to attend to their personal responsibilities altogether, such as child-rearing, and live in unsterile and unsafe environments. Children may be abused or neglected, and people who regularly use meth are at an increased risk of domestic violence and perpetrating or becoming victims of abuse or assaults.
Risks of Sex Addiction
The adverse effects of sex addiction may not be as apparent to others because it is a behavioral rather than a substance addiction, but they are considerable. Physical consequences include sexually-transmitted diseases and infections. Sex addicts may also put themselves in risky situations that can lead to assault or other harm to their bodies or psychological well-being. After the actual acts are over, sex addicts often do feel guilt, shame, or embarrassment regarding their behavior and may experience depression or another mental health condition.
At their core, sex addicts often fear abandonment. They tend to have very deep-seated emotional issues that may be related to traumatic events in their youth, such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse. Having sex, however, does not cure these problems, and rather, primarily serves as a temporary distraction from them.
Family and friends who are close to a person who is a sex addict may also suffer. Spouses and significant others may feel alienated, depressed, or resentful, especially if the partner is unfaithful or attempting to cheat. Partners of sex addicts are often humiliated and may themselves be the subject of coercion or abuse related to their own sexual encounters with the addict.
There are not many physical effects known to be linked to sex addiction outside of the potential for sexual dysfunction, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, or unwanted pregnancy. For example, government statistics show that 38% of men and 45% of women who have a sex addiction have, at some point, contracted a venereal disease as a result of their behavior.
Sex addiction can also adversely impact many areas of a person’s life, including interpersonal relationships and problems at work or school. Psychological effects are far-reaching and include feelings of shame, guilt, inadequacy, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and issues with compulsive thoughts or behaviors.
Sex addicts, just like substance abusers, tend to feel as if they cannot control their addictive behaviors, and are not wrong in feeling this way. Addiction in any form is a disease and may be characterized by periods of relapse, and is s best treated using comprehensive long-term care and emotional support.
Getting Help for Meth and Sex Addiction
Meth and sex are two addictions that tend to feed into each other, and if they co-exist, it may be more difficult for a person to recover when compared to those who suffer from only one condition. That said, abstaining from meth use and reclaiming a healthy sex life is entirely possible, and the first step is to seek professional help.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery centers offer detox services along with an integrated approach to the treatment of substance abuse, behavioral addictions, and other mental health disorders. Moreover, we address both problems simultaneously to help individuals cope with and manage their conditions and reduce the risk of relapse.
If you or someone you love is abusing meth or other substances, please contact us today to discuss treatment programs! We are committed to ensuring those we treat are given the tools and support they need to sustain long-lasting sobriety, health, and well-being!