LOVE and/or Sex Addictions serious triggers for Drug /Alcohol RELAPSE
In my 15 years of helping individuals and their loved ones in the grips of addiction, I have come to understand that love and sex addiction is far more common than most people and even professionals realise. In fact in my experience most people I have helped have all had some element of love or sex addiction or both, even if they presented primarilarly with alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction etc. What is most important about this in helping individuals from my experience is that if these deep underlying core addictions are not addressed in treatment, then they remain serious “triggers” for the alcoholic, drug addict etc, back to their presenting addictions and often serious relapse.
A classic example of this was Chris who stopped using his drug of choice, meth/ice and alcohol but had not fully addressed his underlying emotional issues. Then one warm January night I received a call from the police lock up asking that I go and bail out Chris from the holding cells. He had been arrested for masturbating and exposing himself to a female in another car beside his whilst he was stopped at the lights on a main road. He was also high on Meth.
Chris had never spoken about this behaviour in treatment. His shame was too overwhelming. Once I got him out he broke down and divulged to me that he had been acting out in this way for several years, and had been cautioned once before for similar behaviour. In fact this behaviour came before the drugs and alcohol. The drugs and alcohol where part of what I describe as “Addiction Interaction Disorder”. Addictions more than coexist, they interact, reinforce, become part of one another. They become packages. Chris had come from a very rigid religious family background, where he grew up being told sex and sexual behaviour was “bad” “dirty” and only reserved for marriage and producing children. Chris’s mother also did not provide any form of physical affection, in fact he told me he could never remember his mother ever giving him a hug or even telling him she loved him. It is not hard to work out that Chris’s very core had been terribly shamed, along with his desperate need for love which he had totally sexualised in an extremely distorted manner.
This is not uncommon, perhaps not as extreme, however many find themselves transferring their drug or alcohol addiction, to the obsessive pursuit of love, romance, sex or relationships. Some who used to be hooked on drugs may now obsessively search for a romantic or sexual partner, pick up strangers at 12 step meetings, masturbate compulsively, have multiple affairs, or spend much of their day looking at pornography or seeking out partners online.
For some women early recovery may present new challenges, some the challenge of being alone, feeling worthless or unloved when not in a relationship, or needing the attention of prospective partners to boost self-esteem can all point to a deeper issue of sex and relationship addiction. Women may start using drugs with their partners or cruising for partners in bars, clubs and other places where drug and alcohol use is prevalent. Not only are these hook-ups distracting and dysfunctional, but they also put the recovering addict at increased risk of drug relapse.
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