If you read this article and start to feel like you might have an issue, go talk to your doctor. Ask a professional. If you do have a sex addiction, hear about your reality and options from a doctor. Do not diagnose yourself or choose a course of action based on this article. It is meant to provoke thought, not replace professional care.
I had a few buddies in Narcotics Anonymous that used to describe addiction better than anyone – if you ask them what their drug of choice was, they would tell you “more”. For them, it didn’t matter whether it was drug use, alcohol, gambling or chocolate. The problem is caused by the need to use something to escape the moment. Some addictions are functional and barely impede life, others cause instant, obvious destruction.
Take a look at sex addictions. They are rarely talked about and sometimes, very hard to recognize. Self-awareness and identifying if there is a problem is the only chance a person has to prevent damage and sometimes, save their relationship or family. It begs the question…What do we know about sex addictions? How do we support each other in managing these issues? From a harm-reduction standpoint, is there a way that cannabis can help? Here is a judgment-free look at sex addictions and the treatments we offer to help deal with them.
My buddy John is a really good person, with a really kind heart. Addicts can be the most amazing people…when they are not using. He was always in a long term relationship, but he could never stop himself from privately cheating. One day, his life exploded. He was exposed within our group of friends for secretly sleeping with two sisters from the same family, at the same time. As he had urged them both to keep their business private, neither sister knew that he was sleeping with the other. As luck would have it, the two girls found out by confiding in the same person.
I was disgusted by his behavior. So, I went to ask him about it. We had known these girls since childhood and I wanted to know how he could do that to two close friends of ours. When I asked him why he did it, he looked me dead in the eyes and spoke straight from his soul. He told me that something was really wrong with him. John meant every word when he said that he just had no control over himself and that he had a serious problem. That was the first time I ever witnessed just how devastating a sex addiction can be; it tore three of my close friends apart.
What constitutes as sex addiction?
Don’t freak out because you like to “freak out”. As long as it is safe and consensual, having lots and lots of sex is normal. Spending a lot of time thinking about sex is also normal. However, if your time is so preoccupied to the point of affecting your day to day life, you might have a problem. There are a number of different ways that this addiction can manifest. The common factor in all of them is sex and its negative impact on you or the people in your life. You don’t need to be sleeping with anyone else to have a problem. For example, masturbation is extremely healthy but not when it interferes with daily activities such as leaving for work on time. Like every addiction, the problem depends on the user.
Group or Individual Therapy – Most cities have free sex addicts anonymous meetings. The therapeutic approach focuses on addressing any internal emotional struggle that may contribute to the hypersexual behavior.
Hospitalization – In cases where the sexual compulsions have become extreme, inpatient services offer individual programs.
Medication – Mood stabilizers, SSRI’s and many anti-psychotic medications are usually prescribed specifically to treat sex addictions because of one common side effect, decreasing libido.
One of my girlfriends used to take Effexor because it made it impossible for her to get off. To me, that seemed extreme because Effexor is so intense when you detox from it, it causes ‘brain zaps’ – plus, life sucks with no orgasms. But for her, using that medication was the way that she ensured that her life was the best it could be.
Is there a way for cannabis to help?
My friend John is still into being in a long-term relationship but he stopped cheating. He doesn’t talk about having an urge, but he is very open about how happy he is with the way he spends his time these days. Instead of therapy, he refocused on art and his toking habits increased. Today, he smokes a ton of weed despite his girlfriend not smoking any. They have a life together that facilitates harmony between who they are individual, what they do together, and his personal cannabis habits.
To me, it’s an obvious example of success. John used to find random hookups at bars or when he ran to get a beer. Now that he’s toking, he has no interest in being around alcohol. I don’t know if the success of his relationship is because he started smoking more weed but I do know that it helped him change his nightly pattern. I think that cannabis helps him to relax enough to open up to her, allowing for the possibility of a true bond to grow.
The focus and attention of our society are on life-threatening addiction and rightfully so. However, the impacts of sexual addiction can echo for many lifetimes. Harm reduction is about reducing the damage caused by addiction by using the tools necessary to get clean. Cannabis has a huge role to play as a treatment option and we have barely scratched the surface. There is a lot to learn and the future has a lot to reveal. In the meantime, when it comes to sex addiction, I know at least one person who has used cannabis and changed their life.