Sex Addiction as Cross-Addiction

People who are in treatment for a substance use disorder often struggle with another addiction a situation known by treatment professionals as a cross-addiction. Often this second addiction is not substance related Sex addiction is such a common cross-addiction.

A cross-addiction such as a sex addiction can affect anyone in recovery and may not rear its ugly head until a person has completed drug and alcohol treatment and has been substance-free for some short or longer time.

Sex addiction may not cause many problems at first and in comparison it may seem like a minor issue for a person who has achieved abstinence from alcohol or drugs. People in recovery for a substance addiction develop an ability to recognize the signs of potential relapse to their drug of choice, but they often don't see sex addiction as a threat to recovery. However like any addiction the consequences for sex addition can result in tremendous emotional physical social or financial consequences and increases the risk of relapse.

Cross addictions often develop because people swap one addiction to another to achieve a similar "high". Like an addiction to drugs and alcohol, sex addiction is often an attempt to feel better especially for people experiencing depression, anxiety or other mental health problems, especially when the underlying cause often trauma for the drug or alcohol addiction went unnoticed or untreated.

If you’re in recovery and you’re concerned that you may have a cross addiction to sex there are several warning signs to be aware of:

  • You have attempted to give up compulsive activities such as viewing pornography visiting prostitutes or engaging in phone sex.
  • You become anxious and irritable when you are unable to engage in compulsive sexual activity.
  • You lie to your significant other friends or co-workers about your activities.
  • You fail to maintain normal responsibilities and obligations such as paying bills or showing up at work on time
  • You continue to engage in compulsive sexual activities even when you know the activities are unhealthy illegal or dangerous.
  • Your sexual activities result in unpaid credit cards or other financial difficulties.
  • You are developing a tolerance you find that you are increasing the time or intensively of the activity to attain the same “rush”

If you are in recovery and have developed a sex addiction you may want to seek professional help quickly even if you have been substance-free for some time or even decades. Remember that addiction is a chronic disease and recovery is an ongoing process. A cross-addiction may be one of the challenges. Don’t ignore the problem. An addiction to sex places you at risk for a return to alcohol or drugs.

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