People with cross-addictions are individuals who switch from one addiction to another, while people with co-occurring addictions struggle with multiple addictions simultaneously. Cross and co-occurring disorders are especially common with sex addicts. In one survey of male sex addicts, 87 percent of the respondents reported they regularly abused either addictive substances or other addictive behaviors. The most common secondary drugs of choice for sex addicts are amphetamines. Usually, crystal methamphetamine is the number one option. Often called “the sex drug,” meth is the preferred “party favor” for anonymous Internet and smartphone hookups. It is also the most commonly abused drug among prostitutes (of both genders). Sex addicts also use cocaine, crack cocaine, and almost any other stimulant, but crystal meth is usually cheaper and more readily available.
Like all stimulants, meth evokes profound feelings of euphoria, intensity, and power in the user, along with the drive to obsessively do whatever activity that person wishes to engage in, including having sex. In fact, users say the drug allows them to be sexual for an entire day with or without orgasm – even two or three days – without sleeping, eating, or coming down, especially when Viagra or Cialis is along for the ride. One recovering meth and sex addict in treatment at the Sexual Recovery Institute in Los Angeles stated, “When I do crystal meth, the sex just goes on forever.” Another noted, “There’s no love, no caring, no emotion involved. I don’t care who they are, or even what their names are. I just want sex, sex, and more sex.”
Crystal meth is undoubtedly among the most troublesome illicit drugs currently available, and for sex addicts the dangers extend beyond the usual problems associated with drug abuse. First and foremost, when a user is intoxicated and disinhibited by a stimulant as powerful as meth, safe sex practices are out the window – especially for individuals accustomed to having multiple anonymous partners for hours at a time. Because of this, the risk of contracting or transmitting HIV, hepatitis, and other STDs increases significantly. Moreover, meth use combined with sex often leads to abuse of other drugs – for instance, to counteract “crystal dick” (meth induced impotence) many men take Viagra, Cialis, or another erectile dysfunction treatment. And meth users of both genders often rely on sleeping pills, nighttime cold medicines, pot, and other “downers” to come off their high and get some sleep because meth can keep users awake for days – long after the enjoyable effects have worn off.
In treatment, cross and co-occurring substance addictions nearly always have to be eliminated before an individual’s sexual addiction can be adequately addressed. After all, drugs and alcohol are disinhibiting. They weaken a person’s judgment to the point where that person cannot remain committed to other boundaries he or she may have previously set, such as not having certain kinds of sex. Unless the individual stops using those substances, it is unlikely that he or she will be able to eliminate problematic sexual behavior for very long.
An exception to the rule of “getting chemically sober first” applies to sex and stimulant addicts who have so fused drugs and sex behavior that doing one means they are also doing the other. Because of this, they cannot remain chemically sober because of their sexual acting out, and they cannot remain sexually sober because of their substance abuse. For these individuals, relapse with one addiction nearly always leads to quick relapse with the other. In such cases, substance abuse issues and problematic sexual behavior need to be dealt with at the same time. Recognizing this, Promises Treatment Centers will open, in January of 2013, a Stimulant and Sexual Disorders Program at its facility in Malibu. The SSDP offers treatment tailored specifically to the needs of each co-addicted patient, so the chances for long-term recovery are greatly increased. The SSDP is the only program of its kind. No other treatment center has a program that specifically addresses the fusion of stimulants and sexual behavior.