Overcoming Sex Addiction

Understanding and Overcoming Sex Addiction - Transcend Texas

In many ways, sexual addiction holds the same danger zones as does addiction to alcohol. Sex, like alcohol, is openly sold on the market. It is culturally acceptable that members of society partake in indulging the sexual cravings – through, for example, purchasing pornography – just as it is culturally acceptable that people drink alcohol at the bars or clubs.

And, just like with alcohol, it is incumbent upon the partaker to ensure that the invisible line between acceptable, and not acceptable, is left uncrossed.

Unlike with alcohol addiction, however, sexual addictions are still considered a taboo topic. While groups like Alcoholic’s Anonymous has been in circulation for over 80 years, there is still no nationwide support group for those who suffer from sex addiction.

A large part of the problem with speaking openly about the debilitating presence of sex addiction is that there is a culture of shame surrounding the topic.


Shame Is Counterproductive

Unlike guilt, which is a negative feeling born of inherent belief that we are doing something wrong, shame is a feeling which is imposed upon us by others. While guilt can push us toward making an internal genuine change in behavior, shame is only useful for dictating our outward appearances of change. A person who is surrounded by shame is likely to simply hide the behavior, which is prime fodder for the addiction to continue.

In overcoming your sex addiction, you will likely be called upon to challenge the status quo of cultural shame. It is our society which has made the availability of sexual content so rampant, and our society which has pushed hypersexuality as a norm.

It is, likewise, the responsibility of society to address the needs of those who have been unable to successfully ride that fine-line between acceptable and non-acceptable indulgence. It is bad form for society to provide us with the pieces for crafting the monster, and then to singularly fault us for putting it together.

Once recognizing and refusing the oppressive nature of the shame factor, we are able to more accurately account for our own state of being. Letting the secret of your addiction out into the light is the first step toward healing. Finding the support of those who will not judge or condemn you for your experience is possible, and vital.


Assess Your Experience

Another area which you are likely to find a lack of support for your problem is in the psychiatric field. The latest Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM V) has removed the diagnosis of hypersexuality, which was formerly used as a label which permitted insurance companies to cover therapeutic treatment for sex addiction.

The justification for the elimination of the specific classification appears to be in consideration that addiction to sexual activities do not exist in isolation from other problems. Don’t be surprised if you go into therapy for your sex addiction, only to be diagnosed with some other disorder.

When assessing our addictions, it is useful to determine two pieces of data. Firstly, determine what it is about the thoughts and behaviors which interfere with your ability to function in a healthy manner. Secondly, determine what it is that you seek to gain from the addictive behaviors.

In order for something to qualify as an addiction, it must do two things. Planning of the behavior must dominate our thinking, and engagement in the behavior must negatively affect our quality of life.

It is by this criteria that any number of activities can qualify as an addiction, and focus on sexual gratification is no exception. If your focus on sexually-based activities is such that it is interfering with your ability to form meaningful relationships, or keeping you from completing productive tasks, it is likely an addiction.

Once having established that the focus on sexuality is impeding your healthy functioning, the next step is to discern what you are gaining from continuing in the behavior. For many, the sexual experience can be compared to the high which is obtained from a drug. Endorphins kick in, the brain releases feel-good chemicals, and cognitive processing takes a back seat. During the time that the sexual activity is engaged in, the problems of real life are avoided.

Take some time to sit down and take stock of the ways that your sexual behavior is negatively affecting your quality of life. Then, give equal time to discerning all of the reasons that you engage in it.

There has to be something about it that has been working for you, up until this point. Motivation for changing the addictive behavior is most powerful when it comes from a position of wanting to find something that works similarly well for you, but without the negative consequences.


Replace the Sex Addiction Behavior

It is always easier to do something, than to not do something. If it has been determined that you are gaining some sort of pleasure from sexual activities which is lacking in your life, otherwise, the task will be to replace the source of your enjoyment with something more adaptable. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques are typically very effective, to this end.

Within CBT, there is the concept of antecedents. Antecedents is the fancy term for identification of what happens in our environment just prior to our engaging in a behavior. For someone with a sexual addiction, the antecedent to engaging in sexual activity may be a simple as coming home to an empty house. For others, it may be a response to experiencing relationship strife or social rejection.

In any case, there are thoughts and beliefs which are related to the scenario. The thought process which precedes the sexual behavior includes that doing so will solve some sort of problem.

As you are reading an article on overcoming sex addiction, there is a good chance that you have become aware that the behaviors do not, in fact, solve the problem. At best, the sexual engagement postpones the problems. At worst, it compounds them.

Working with a CBT therapist can help you to find different responses to the antecedents which prompt you toward these ineffective coping methods.

Understanding the Effects of Addiction on Your Body

The Effects of Addiction

Anyone who has been exposed to the photos provided by the “Faces of Meth” campaign is acutely aware of the outward symptoms of addiction. Skin is damaged and teeth are ruined. Eyes are bloodshot, and massive amounts of weight loss can leave a person looking like a walking skeleton. These visuals can provide a shocking glimpse of the ravaging effects of substances on the body, but the  damage is actually taking place on a more minute, less visible, level. The biological processes within the brain and body of persons who are addicted to harmful substances undergo many changes, and the outward, visible, signs are only a symptom of these deeper problems.


The Body is Robbed of Vital Nutrients

A major contributor to the damage which is caused to the body as a result of substance addiction is that of nutrient deficiency. Some substances induce lack of appetite, which means that the addicted person is not taking in enough vitamins and minerals, to begin with. Other substances cause the user to experience symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea, which prevent food and water from having the chance to do their work.  Yet other substances prevent the body from absorbing the nutrients which are introduced. The body which is under the influence of addictive substances will simply refuse to absorb valuable components, even when healthy foods are ingested and digested. Some of the major nutrients that are missed out on during substance addiction are vitamin B; iron; sodium; potassium; calcium; and chloride.

The eight vitamins within the B class – ranging in numbers from one to 12 – play a major role in the body’s ability to metabolize nutrients. These vitamins help to transform food into usable energy, and contribute to the formation of new DNA.  A lack of vitamin B can result in experiences of fatigue; nerve damage; jaundice; difficulty breathing; rapid heart rate; and lack of mental clarity. These nutrients are not able to be stored for later use by the body, and so a steady stream of them – and proper ability to absorb their effects –  are necessary for the body to function properly.

The symptoms of an iron deficiency are quite similar to those of a B vitamin deficiency. Iron is a mineral that is necessary for forming the parts of the red bloods cells which carry oxygen throughout the body. Substances which decrease appetite, or which cause vomiting and diarrhea, are major culprits in the lack of iron absorption, and can result in a person developing the problems associated with anemia.

Nutrients such as sodium, potassium, calcium, and chloride are collectively called electrolytes. Electrolytes play many important roles in bodily function, including regulating muscle behavior and carrying signals from one nerve cell to another. Not having a proper amount of water in the body has a major effect on the balance of electrolytes, and many addictive substances are notorious for causing dehydration. An electrolyte imbalance can lead to physical symptoms such as bone disorders; disorders of the nervous system; and convulsions or seizures.


Thinking Patterns Are Reordered

Scientists are always at odds when it comes to the nature vs. nurture debate. While the nature side of the argument points out that certain things about us are inherent and unchangeable since birth, nurture proponents emphasize the fact that how we behave, and what we are exposed to, work to create our experience of being human.

Most of us are able to discern that, when it comes to patterns of thinking, we have added quite a bit to the thinking process which we utilized as a child. Our thought patterns are able to adapt and grow as we go through life, and hopefully with the outcome of our being able to reason more effectively. While under the constant influence of an addictive substance, however, our evolution of thinking is often stunted. The concept of Parallel Distributed Processing (PDP) explains this stunting of thought development from a biological perspective.

In simple terms, PDP can be compared to how a stream of water turns into a river. When the stream is small, it is easily diverted. We can change the course of this stream by kicking some dirt into the path, or through digging some gullies with a shovel. As the stream of water grows more powerful, it will begin to cut out its own pathways through the ground. Eventually, as the stream turns into a river, its course becomes set, and we can predict exactly how it will flow.

The patterns which we establish in our thinking behavior can be compared to this stream of water. Inside of our brains are neurons. These neurons make connections through synapses. Neuron communication links together like a chain, forming a stream of thought. Each time we think in a certain way, we are reinforcing the direction of those thoughts, just as though we were using a shovel to move the dirt and change the direction of a developing stream of water. Over time, the thoughts become set in a pattern, and changing the river-like course of their content can become difficult. The established, biological, channels of mental processing can make changing our addictive responses and behaviors quite a challenge.


Emotional Transmitters Become Lazy

In kind with the concept of neuronal communication affecting our thinking patterns is the physical effect on our emotions. Our brains are designed to produce a natural punishment and reward system, through releasing certain chemicals under specific circumstances. Addictive substances are designed to bind the neurons which regulate pleasure, and to artificially invoke the chemicals which result in our feeling euphoric. Over time, these regulating neurons realize that they don’t have to do their job of producing our emotional responses, because an outside influence is going to do it, for them. When the addictive substance is removed, the neurons don’t know what is going on, and the result is that the brain – and body – go into a panic mode. Retraining the transmission and reception process of neurons to work on their own can take years.

Why Seek Professional Help For The Addiction Recovery Process?

For those of us who are go-getters, and are used to doing things on our own, seeking help once we realize that we have an addiction problem may be the last thing we want to do. We may figure that we got our own selves into this problem, and we are the ones to get ourselves out of it. Aside from the drive that some of us possess to go it alone, there is also often a matter of pride. Admitting that we have a problem – and that the problem is bigger than ourselves – can be a humiliating experience.

The interesting part of the idea of humiliation is that it comes from the root word, humility. Humility is the state of being humble, and successfully overcoming our addictions often involves this as a prerequisite. After subjecting ourselves to the temporary embarrassment of admitting that we need help, we may find that we are set free from some of what has hindered us in our past.

Seeking help can be a powerful first step toward setting our lives on the right course. While pondering whether to put any lone-wolf tendencies to the side, here are some practical considerations of how seeking help with your addiction can assist you on your journey of recovery.


Medical Interventions Can Ease the Difficulty of Withdrawal

Some of us know of folks who have kicked their addictions cold turkey. While this may be something to admire their tenacity for, detoxing from addictive substances without medical intervention is a modern-day equivalent of yanking a bad tooth with no Novocaine. You can do it – if you have to – but it is nice to know that there are less painful options available.

When seeking the help of professionals during the initial phases of recovery, you will often receive access to medication regimens which are specifically tailored to combat your withdrawal symptoms. While these medications are still, technically, a drug, the amounts and types administered allow the body and brain to more easily wean itself from the targeted substance. Addiction withdrawal symptoms range from headaches and digestion issues to seizures and coma. Taking any extreme physical discomfort out of the equation can provide you with the space to begin the work toward changing your life, sooner.


Professionals Understand the Journey

Many people who are caught up in addiction have faced scenarios where those they love have, unwittingly, made the situation worse. Instead of compassion, there is anger. Instead of useful solutions, there are ultimatums. Instead of understanding, there is judgment.

Our loved ones aren’t often behaving in this way because they hate us. It is usually a result of their not being equipped with the insight and education which would allow them to react to our difficulties in a more productive way. Their own needs, perspectives, and hurts are often what guides them toward their reactions.

When working with drug treatment professionals, you can expect a refreshingly different interaction. The training and experience of substance abuse professionals allows them to take a partner view, rather than that of a combatant. They know not to take your symptoms personally. They know that recovery is a process , and that certain – sometimes unpleasant – experiences are a required step along the journey. They have been trained to know the road map of recovery, and can assist you with discovering where you are on that map. Having a map for our journey makes arriving at our intended destination much easier.


Addiction Preys On The Isolated

It has long been recognized that those who suffer from addictions often feel socially isolated. This type of disconnect from society is repeatedly cited as a factor in what drives a person toward seeking relief through drugs and alcohol. And, not only can feeling isolated contribute to the initial substance seeking behaviors, it can contribute to its persistence.

When it comes down to it, we are all alone in our thought world. Unless we make effort to share our thoughts, the conversations that go on inside our head are known only to us. Those private conversations are sometimes positive, such as when we have the one which leads us to consider changing our lives through ceasing our substance abuse. Other times, those private conversations can turn dark.

Recovery from substance abuse and dependence is a cycle. Many people will experience an initial determination to rid themselves of the self-destructive behaviors, and will set out on their journey toward wellness with this idea in mind. As time goes on, though, those old, less-positive, thoughts have a way of creeping back in. If we have kept our journey a secret up to this point, the temptation to battle those negative ideas alone is great.

Many lone warriors have fallen to the horde of negative thoughts which eventually gather forces and attack toward dragging us back down into our addictions. With professional support, you will be able to wage that war with an army of supporters. Having an army at your back makes your victory more secure.


Social Support Is Crucial For Success

Humans are social creatures. Without the connection and teamwork of others, we would not have been able to develop the concept of civilization. Our ancient ancestors understood that we need others around us if we are to survive the harshness of our environment.

While overcoming our addictions, we are in one of the harshest environments that exist. Not only are we facing the physical discomfort which weaning ourselves from the toxins can produce, we are also faced with emotional and psychological struggles. The thoughts and feelings which the substances tend to numb can arise in full-force during recovery. They emerge, and we are tasked with facing the elements fully.

A vital component of a professional sober living program is that of putting us into connection with others. We can begin to network with those who have our best interests in mind. Those positive contacts can help us to build our house of recovery, and to plant our fields of prosperity. The connections made as part of a treatment program can become our new tribe.

Understanding How Your Addiction Can Harm Those Around You

How Addiction Harms Those Around You

When we are engaging in behaviors of addiction, we often don’t see past our own, immediate, situation. We are focused on what the high is doing – or not doing – for us, and putting ourselves in the shoes of others doesn’t tend to come naturally. The fact is that our addiction doesn’t only harm our own lives and future. We are part of a bigger picture, and all who are around us can be impacted.


Losing Your Friends

The first people to know about our addiction is usually our friends. Our friends may even be the ones who provide us with the drugs or alcohol, in the first place. Drugs and alcohol affect different people in different ways, and you may end up reacting better – or worse – to the substances than your friends do. Either way, there are uncomfortable consequences.

If you are the friend who manages to get by with using drugs or alcohol occasionally, with few negative experiences, you may feel like your addiction is not a problem. Unless you are only using the substances when you are completely alone (which can be a bad sign, in itself,) you are probably encouraging others to use along with you. You can never know how much impact you are having on the future of those friends. One friend may do alright with the using, like you do. Another friend may have a fierce tendency toward getting hooked, and will start using the drugs or alcohol to excess. It isn’t any fun, knowing that we have played a part in the destruction of someone’s life, through being the one who provided him or her with the drugs which eventually took over his or her existence.

If you are the friend who watches your other friends do fine with using – while being out of control, yourself – there is another set of concerns. Young adults, in particular, often have their own problems to deal with. They are busy figuring out how to set up their own lives. They don’t have the time or energy to babysit a drunk friend all the time, or to talk a paranoid friend down from a bad trip every day. Eventually, these friends will get tired of giving you the amount of attention that your addiction is requiring. You are likely to find yourself more and more alone, as they separate themselves from the burden of your behaviors. Both you, and they, have lost a friend in this scenario.

Included in that list of friends may be a romantic partner. Being the girlfriend or boyfriend of someone who gets high or drunk all the time is wearing. There are only so many times that a significant other can listen to the nonsense or hateful words of a high or drunk person before considering that the relationship needs to end. A person, sober, is not the same person when addicted to substances. Asking a boyfriend or girlfriend to stick around while you play the roles of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is not fair. As with other types of friends, you are putting too much burden and responsibility on your significant other when you expect him or her to carry you through the darkness of your addiction.


Stressing Your Family

Other than ourselves, the people who are often most affected by our abuse of drugs and alcohol are the members of our family. For a family, watching a young person creep closer and closer toward falling over the edge of addiction can be extremely frightening. They may try to do anything they can think of to help pull you away from that dead-end. Their attempts to help can come as crying, yelling, cursing, and making demands. All of these behaviors are a result of the fear and panic that our addiction is causing for them. Our loved ones are afraid for our future.

When we are afraid, there are many physical consequences. Our hearts pump faster, and our blood pressure increases. Our blood sugar levels rise, and our muscles stay tensed up. We become vulnerable to getting sick, and our mind isn’t able to function as clearly. When this fear response stays around, every day, we call it stress or anxiety.

Family members who are worried about the future of a loved one walk around with this heightened arousal, daily. Prolonged stress and anxiety have been linked to migraine headaches; heart disease; depression; and insomnia. While we may know that our addictions are taking years off of our own life, we need to also be aware that we are taking years off of the lives of our loved ones. To put it bluntly, we may be slowly killing our family members with our addiction.



Damaging The Community

When a community has a high number of young people who are addicted to substances, the reputation of the entire area is tarnished. People who are working toward their futures don’t tend to want to move into a city where drug and alcohol abuse rates are high. There are only some types of people who want to move into towns like this. Those types of people are often other substance abusers, and drug dealers.

When a town can’t attract new, productive, citizens, it can’t financially prosper. Neighborhoods become dangerous and run-down, resulting in a decrease of property value. Existing businesses end up shutting down, and new businesses choose to open up in a different town. Job availability declines, and crime rates tend to increase, making it so that no neighborhood is safe for the community’s children to play in.

Towns which are plagued by high rates of drug and alcohol abuse tend to report more robberies; burglaries; and vehicle thefts. There are also more instances of deadly vehicle accidents and instances of homicide. While it might seem like an exaggeration to think that your own, personal, drug and alcohol abuse is at fault for this type of demise of a community, keep in mind that every individual in a community plays a role. Your role can be that of working to improve your town, or that of contributing to its bad reputation.


You Aren’t A Failure Because of Drugs

Addiction is a Disease and Not a Choice

It’s still a problem: drug users are heavily stigmatized, and that stigma carries over into self-stigma – an appropriated feeling that, because everyone else sees you in a bad light, you too begin to see yourself in it.

But stigma is a construct, and reality isn’t determined solely by public opinion. Your life is not forfeit due to drug use, and the state of your mind is very much salvageable in nearly all cases of addiction. In other words: being addicted to drugs neither makes you a bad person, nor does it make you a failure.

A cursory Google search will give you dozens of results detailing the success stories of countless athletes, actors, entrepreneurs, and doctors who prevailed and forged ahead through blazing careers despite their history with serious drug abuse and long-term recovery. Drug use doesn’t expel you from the chance to lead a great life, and for many people, the recovery process can act as the perfect catalyst for real personal growth.


Addiction is a Disease, Not a Choice

The argument has been made over and over again that addiction is not a disease, but the consensus remains the same: repetitive drug use affects the brain and changes the way it reacts to other neurotransmitters and signals. This causes changes in behavior and thinking, some of which are virtually irreversible, as well as chronic in nature.

But that doesn’t mean addiction is hardwired into any of us as a certainty, nor does it mean that anyone is exempt from ever becoming an addict. Look at it this way – we all possess a baseline risk of becoming addicted, and that risk is modified by various risk factors and protective factors, that increase or decrease our chances. A healthy lifestyle, a happy home, and feelings of contentment all massively reduce the risk of developing an addiction. Meanwhile, factors that increase stress and anxiety also increase the risk of developing an addiction. These include threats to financial stability, poverty, deteriorating health, tragic loss, mental illness, and chronic pain.

The deciding factor in each case, however, is the drug itself. Protective factors and external risk factors often determine how likely it is for a person to try a drug. It’s often our internal factors – matters of neurobiology, informed partially by genetics and partially by a person’s mental and emotional state – that determine whether experimentation at a party turns into a more frequent habit, before eventually spiraling out of control.

Once a person reaches the point of physical dependence, addiction becomes something that is largely out of their control. Some people speak about simply quitting their drug use one day and being fine. Others speak about ‘maturing’ out of drug use – about how they had a party phase in their 20s, before hitting their 30s and 40s, and simply running out of time to use drugs.

But these aren’t stories about addiction. They’re stories about drug use. Some drug users use their habit as a way to cope with a breakup or with some form of pain (describing an emotional dependence), but that doesn’t mean they have a physical dependence on the drug. A physical dependence isn’t broken by ‘maturing out’ of it but requires proper attention.

All this is to say that when you’re struggling with drug use, and you can’t stop, you are by no means a failure. It just means you need help.


Addiction Can Be Treated

Among the first steps to treating an addiction is realizing that the fear, guilt, and stigma that come with being an addict are all emotions that addiction feeds on. Addicts often don’t know what it’s like to cope with pain without drug use and turn to drugs as the easiest and most efficient way to deal with all negativity, further fueling it instead.

By pursuing strict sobriety and separating yourself from the temptations of using again through a rehab facility, inpatient program, or sober living home, you go through a process of allowing your brain and body to heal, recovering from the changes introduced by physical dependence. Through rehab, you can go through the withdrawal period under medical supervision and overcome the growing list of challenges and responsibilities that await you in sobriety alongside the help and guidance of addiction specialists and therapists.

The recovery process is more than just a return to the status quo. There is no cure for addiction, which means that the only way to really overcome it is to convince yourself that living sober is better than anything a drug can offer, after giving your mind enough time to remember what it’s like to lead a normal life without heavy drug use. Through this process, you won’t only rediscover yourself, but you’ll have the opportunity to grow in ways you might never have imagined.


Life Is Better When Sober

It’s only through sobriety that you avoid the painful hangovers, the constant mood shifts, the infrequent-but-terrifying blackouts, and the growing list of costs associated with your drug use, from the drugs themselves to the hospital fees they eventually spawn. Drug use, despite the high, brings nothing but pain into a person’s life. And while it’s tempting to write it off as a self-destructive habit, one person’s addiction directly affects at least half a dozen other people in many detrimental ways.

On the other side of the coin, living sober changes life for the better. You get to live in the moment. You’re in a healthier mind and body. The constant drug use, malnourishment, and bad sleeping habits are gone, and with them the hygiene issues, skin conditions, weight loss/gain and sickness that often accompany heavy addiction. Through sobriety, you get to have fulfilling relationships again, you get to work a job you don’t have to worry about losing every week, and you can manage your stress in healthy ways that don’t require you to withdraw from reality and start worrying about new consequences.

No one ever genuinely argued that addiction doesn’t start with a choice. But no one should argue that a person’s life is forfeit for a few innocent self-destructive mistakes. There is no moral lesson behind addiction – it’s a disease that targets everyone, regardless of their moral compass, and runs rampant through their lives. But it can be overcome, most of its damage can be reversed, and most people who make it through the recovery process come out the other end being stronger, wiser, more mature, and more capable of standing up to the many challenges life still has in store for them. Your drug use never made you a failure – and recovery gives you the opportunity to take your unfortunate past and turn it into a story of living a better life despite overwhelming odds.


Where Does Sex Addiction Come From?

Where Does Sex Addiction Come From

Sex addiction had several different names in the past, including nymphomania (in women), hypersexuality, and satyriasis (in men), but it’s only recently that its definition has shifted from including all deviant sexual activity as a sign of illness, to simply categorizing sexual compulsion as a problem. However, because of the nature of addiction, many healthcare providers and psychiatric associations are wary to consider sex addiction a problem in and of itself.

While sex addiction exists, it is more likely a symptom rather than a condition of itself. Where an addiction is a physical or emotional dependence on a substance or action due to the addictiveness of that substance or behavior, sex addiction either implies poor impulse control or may be a hint at a personality disorder characterized by problems with intimacy, empathy, and long-term emotional commitment.

To understand what a sex addiction is and where it comes from, we need to separate the problematic from the accepted.


Lewd or Deviant Behavior Is Not an Illness

Sex positivity is still a controversial topic in modern society, but we have come a long way from puritanical views on sex and reproduction. It is generally accepted that individuals have sex recreationally, and that they are free to do as they please if both parties consent. This includes a very long list of sexual preferences or “kinks”, as well as fetishes. Even non-safe, illegal sexual activities such as voyeurism or exhibitionism are not always indicative of a sex addiction, although they might go hand-in-hand.

The presence of a kink, fetish, or abnormal/deviant sexual desire (excluding harmful or dangerous paraphilias) is not a problem. But it can be one. During the 18th and 19th century, cases of “nymphomania” would have been diagnosed (in women, exclusively) on the basis of “lewd advances to men or women”, as well as masturbation and “sexual insatiability”. We have since come to understand that being sexually active, masturbating, and engaging in oral and/or anal sex is not a form or symptom of mental illness, although it took until 1980 to do so.

What does present itself as a problem is when one person’s sexual activity causes them great personal harm, to the point of being ruinous for several relationships, causing them to lose out on work, and even land themselves in jail due to unwanted sexual advances or unwanted exhibitionism/voyeurism. Sometimes it’s a matter of choice and poor decision-making – and sometimes, sex addiction reveals a real problem with impulse control, compulsive behavior, and other deep-seated psychological problems.


Compulsion vs. Choice

Just like the tendency to sleep, eat, or yell aggressively at a screen, sexual drive is a biological factor controlled by several substances in the body and brain. During certain mental health conditions and treatments, this drive can increase or decrease drastically. Depressive disorders are known to decrease a person’s sex drive considerably, yet on the other hand, manic episodes may be accompanied by moments of hypersexuality. These instances of “excessive” or even dangerous sexual activity can thus be explained by other biological or psychological conditions, and after the primary condition is treated, the hypersexuality ceases.

There is also some evidence to suggest that hypersexuality may be a form of coping in cases of obsessive-compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders, wherein a person uses the emotional and physical release and gratification of an orgasm or sexual encounter to soothe their anxieties, or to address specific obsessions through compulsive sexual behavior.

If a case of sex addiction is accompanied by other forms of poor impulse control, sudden urges, and emotional outbursts, an individual may be suffering with an impulse control disorder rather than any form of addiction.

This is the primary problem with viewing hypersexuality as a form of addiction – because the mechanism of what drives extreme and/or dangerous sexual activity is so poorly understood, it’s important not to conflate a sex addiction with a substance use disorder. Instead, many cases of hypersexuality may betray other disorders instead. Nevertheless, compulsive sexual behavior shouldn’t be dismissed as something that doesn’t require treatment.

So, when does sexual behavior become something a therapist or psychiatrist should be concerned about? Either when an individual’s sex drive shift suddenly, either dropping to rock bottom or increasing multifold, or when an individual’s sexual behavior is detrimental to their own health or safety, and they continue to engage in dangerous sexual behavior despite clear and suffered consequences. Either of these issues suggests a sudden change in a person’s mental and neurological state, as well as turning sex into a potential form of coping (thus relying on it despite clear consequences).

The presence of serious consequences is key. A person may engage in extramarital affairs, masturbate excessively, and/or spend several thousand dollars a month on strip clubs or pornography, but if their behavior is not negatively impacting other areas of their life (from financial ruin to several sexually-transmitted diseases, losing partner after partner, and/or job loss), there is no real evidence of a disorder.


Sex Addiction as An Intimacy Problem

There may be many reasons a person turns to sex to cope, but one proposed reason is a problem with intimacy and long-term emotional bonding. While sex is arguably the ultimate fix when you need a quick emotional high with another person, it also typically comes with a series of strings attached. People don’t always engage in one-night stands, and tie feelings of sexual gratification and desire together with romantic feelings. Some people, however, may struggle with that concept and instead actively sabotage their relationships and move from one conquest to another in order to avoid any feelings of intimacy, usually out of fear, in order to avoid being in a position of emotional vulnerability where another person may see them for who they think they truly are. Deep-seated self-esteem issues and feelings of guilt or shame may fuel a personality that sees sex as a way to get high but will do everything to stay away from the romances associated with it.

This, however, doesn’t sound like an addiction, but rather, seems to be a form of maladaptive coping, with potential anxiety problems or symptoms of depression feeding an image of self-hatred. While sex can be a compulsive outlet for many looking for a quick fix, it’s important to differentiate unusual sexual desires from truly harmful sexual compulsions, and addiction.

How Does Someone End Up Addicted?

How does Someone End Up Addicted

Drug use and addiction may be synonymous, but there are a couple steps between using a drug and getting addicted to it. Even heroin, one of the most addictive drugs in the world, can’t get someone hooked from a single high. The journey to becoming addicted is one determined by a number of different factors, including the addictiveness of the drug, the person’s mental health at the height of their drug use, and many external and internal factors that may drive someone to use drugs more liberally than most.

Drug addiction is quite complicated and has little to do with a person’s moral convictions or strength of character. Largely characterized as a brain disease, addiction’s causes are ultimately neurological in origin. We’re going to go over how a person might get addicted to drugs.


It’s in the Family

Addiction does run in the family. Scientists have identified genes (small biological differences) that are specifically related to addiction, and statistics show that if you have a close relative who struggles with addiction, it’s likely that you have a higher risk of developing an addiction to the same drug than others with no family history of addiction. This can often be seen in alcoholism/alcohol use disorder. It’s important to note that a predisposition towards drug abuse does not make an addition a guarantee, it only means that there is a considerable degree of inheritability.

Note that while studies do their best to correct for such issues, it’s important to note that it is very difficult to separate genetic predisposition from the effects of a similar family background, in terms of violence and abuse at home, issues with poverty, ethnic discrimination, and so on.


How Drugs Cause Addiction

Drug use itself obviously plays a massive role in the development of addiction. Addictive drugs are addictive for different reasons and have different effects and mechanisms in the brain, but the general gist of addictiveness starts with how certain chemicals make their way into the brain through the bloodstream, and bind with our brain cells, often mimicking normal brain chemicals in size and shape, and thus attaching to our cells’ receptors.

Once integrated with portions of the brain, addictive drugs tend to stimulate the brain into releasing abnormal amounts of dopamine or increase the brain’s sensitivity to dopamine. The effects of such a gross overload of brain chemicals leads to a number of physical and psychological effects.

The first effect is the high. Not all illegal drugs or high-inducing drugs are addictive, as with drugs such as LSD. These drugs are potentially dangerous for different reasons. However, stimulants, depressants, opioids and a slew of synthetic designer drugs all induce a different kind of high, coupled with the manipulated release of dopamine, and an effect on the reward pathways of the brain.

One high isn’t enough to make serious physiological changes, but heavy drug use can change the brain in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, including symptoms of withdrawal after stopping, tolerance issues resulting in the need for stronger doses to remain high, and other adaptations that begin to suggest a physical dependence on the drug. Psychological effects can include anything from heightened anxiety and depressive symptoms to irritability, paranoia, and psychosis.


Stress and Drug Use

Stress is indubitably linked to drug use, and drug abuse. One of the reasons people may turn towards drugs to begin with is as a way to cope with pressure, release stress, and seek relief. Traumas, sudden loss, struggles with work or school, as well as long-term ongoing psychological anguish and serious emotional stress can cause addiction as a way to cope with recurring feelings of anger, sadness, and more.

The reason drugs are such an attractive way to deal with stress is because they don’t require confiding in another person about your problems, they don’t require you to confront your issues, and they work very quickly and very effectively – for a very short period of time. Drugs are maladaptive coping mechanisms, meaning they don’t provide a long-term solution to the pain, and often make it worse by enabling denial and lack of treatment or care.


Drug Use in Teens

Teens are uniquely positioned to struggle with developing and lasting addiction due to their age. Teens are more prone to developing mood disorders and experiencing feelings of distress and depression, and are prone to the perfect storm of:

  • Heightened sense of curiosity
  • Lack of risk assessment or inhibition
  • Groupthink and peer pressure

Teens are more likely to start using drugs than any other age group and are more likely to develop lifelong addiction the younger they start.

However, the good news is that teens seem less likely to engage in drug use today than in almost any other period of recent history. This generation has fewer drug-related vices than its predecessors. But a significant portion of US teens still struggle with the effects of drug use, either directly or indirectly.


Prescription Medication and Addiction

A significant portion of overdose deaths in the past few years have been due to prescription drugs, primarily prescription opioids used to stave off chronic pain and postoperative pain. While inefficient and sometimes even ineffective, today’s healthcare system in America incentivizes the prescription and use of pills over long-term pain management strategies such as physical rehab, professional massages, cryotherapy, heat treatment, and so on.

This was a problem especially in the 90s, when erroneous health guidelines pushed for the prescription of pain medication, especially the drug OxyContin, leading in tens of thousands of overdose deaths, and countless new addicts hooked to opioids first, and heroin after.

Since then, the effects of excessive prescription have been felt in the form of the growing opioid crisis, which continues to claim lives, fueled by a growing heroin market, larger supplies of illegal drugs, and the aftermath of the global recession and its severe and detrimental effects on the economy.

The factors that cause addiction are multifold and exist in many different shapes and forms. Every case is different and requires a different level of care and different forms of treatment.

How Addiction Interferes with Ordinary Everyday Life

Addiction Interferes with Everyday Life

Developing an addiction takes time and does not happen overnight. The brain responds to drugs differently from person to person, and the speed at which people develop a substance dependence varies due to factors such as age, size, gender, genetics, and more. However, despite the many ways in which the body and mind respond to drug use and addiction, one thing remains a constant: addiction always brings a slew of negative effects to the table, many of which consistently interfere with ordinary everyday life, and leave most people struggling to maintain a sense of normalcy.

The earlier an addiction is identified and treated, the better. While life is best lived without access to addictive drugs, the reality is that many Americans were exposed to drugs like nicotine and alcohol at a young age, while many others rely on the therapeutic effectiveness of drugs like opioids and amphetamines to cope with pain and illness. Others struggle mentally and find drugs to be the only effective outlet for their pain. But when a person passes the threshold from casual use to addiction, there’s no effective argument in favor of continued drug use. Here are a few ways in which an addiction can change your life for the worse.


Time & Money

An addiction costs a serious amount of money. One of the lifestyle consequences of addiction are financial ruin, due to the sheer cost of drugs, recovery, and potential legal costs. Aside from being financially-draining, addiction is time-draining. Many addicts lose track of time due to their mental state, struggling with memory problems, bouts of insomnia, inconsistent sleeping schedules, and entire days lost on drug use.

One of the characteristics of an addiction is the obsession with substance abuse, and the total dependence on it. A person can’t seem to function without their fix, and they can’t function while high. While an addiction doesn’t start on that extreme level, it unfortunately often develops in that direction. The costs of an addiction are not always obvious – to many addicts, they find excuses for their behavior or unconsciously seek ways to justify their behavior in the beginning stages of the problem. However, it becomes harder and harder to hide and manage the behavior as time goes on. Often, it’s then when addiction begins to eat into other aspects of life.


Eroding Relationships and Trust

Next only to the potential loss of life caused by addiction is the loss of trust and the destruction of many relationships built on years of prior experience. An addiction can cause a person to completely lose the trust of those they love, beginning with the inner conflict between trying to maintain control of one’s life and the irresistible pull of an addiction, and culminating in severed ties and feelings of guilt and shame, leading to an intensifying of addictive habits as a way to cope with the loss of a partner or loved one’s trust.

Because an addiction is often insidious and develops slowly over time, it can become difficult to comprehend and differentiate the addiction from your own thoughts and behaviors – which only makes the pain of disappointing those you love that much more painful, as you feel that you failed not only them, but yourself. This erosion of self-esteem and self-efficacy is often compounded by an intense stigma against addicts and addiction developed by a misunderstanding of addiction and the way it functions as a chronic brain disease. Fixing trust issues after an addiction – and addressing the damage dealt to many relationships – can be one of the harder aspects of addiction recovery.


Struggling with Workplace Commitments

As an addiction grows, it becomes more difficult to keep track of responsibilities and priorities. Because one of the characteristics of addiction is the inability to prioritize anything over the addictive behavior itself, many responsibilities and commitments fall to the wayside.

This does not always have to lead to loss of employment. Some employers are willing to support their employees in their recovery, if they are forthcoming about their condition and earnest in their desire to recover. Other employees fear and worry that revealing their addiction will only lose them their job, causing them to try and deny or hide their behavior for as long as possible, avoiding potential treatment for fear of being found out.


Failing to Keep Up Appearances

The same issue can heavily affect a person’s social commitments. It becomes harder to commit to meeting up with friends and keeping track of a healthy social life while going off the deep end. Many addicts end up building material friendships with other addicts around them. Others withdraw entirely.

Make no mistake, however, an addiction will heavily affect the way you spend time with people, when you do end up spending time with people. Many people become addicted to a drug due to their friends to begin with, in which case, they often develop a greater commitment to their friends than any other group, either because they feel more accepted, or because they need a reliable source for their fix.


Declining Health

Drug use severely affects the human body, beginning with the effects of addiction in the brain and culminating with organ damage over long periods of time, and deaths caused by drug overdose symptoms or the long-term effects of drug use. Stimulants severely affect the heart and brain, for example, increasing the risk of a stroke or heart disease. Depressants can kill a person by causing respiratory arrest and brain death and damage the liver and kidneys. Alcohol contributes to the development of over half a dozen different cancers, and heavy alcohol use diminishes cognitive function, affects memory and decision making, and tears apart the liver.

Many other deleterious effects are a consequence of the high itself, from sexually-transmitted diseases caused by risky sexual encounters fueled by drug use, to automobile accidents and more.


Drugs and Mental Health

Drug use is tied to mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, not only in the sense that teens and adults with mental health problems are more prone to addiction, but also in the sense that these issues can develop in people as a result of substance abuse and substance dependence. Returning to a normal everyday life after addiction can be extraordinarily difficult due to the way drug use can change a person’s brain over time, requiring a long-term commitment to recovery and mental healthcare as a way to overcome the effects of addiction and enjoy a happier life.

Addiction affects a person’s everyday life in a variety of ways, but that doesn’t mean any given addict is going to experience all of these issues together. Individual factors change how an addiction is likely to affect you. These factors also change the efficacy of different treatments. By examining how an addiction developed and how it affected a person’s life, addiction specialists can determine how best to help you. But the process is a long one, and it can involve trial and error. Support from others is just as important as the treatment itself, whether that support comes from family members, friends, professionals, or all of the above.

Leading A Healthy Sex Life After Sex Addiction

Leading a Healthy Sex Life After Addiction

Addiction in general is a betrayal of trust, but sex addiction can do more damage to a relationships than any addiction to drugs. Discovering that the person you love has been seeking intimacy from complete strangers while jeopardizing your wellbeing through the possibility of STDs can be shattering. In many cases, it can be traumatizing.

Coming back from that is hard for both parties. Revealing a sex addiction – or having it be revealed for you – will completely change your life. Finding out about your partner’s sex addiction may very likely end a relationship built on decades of love and adoration. The very idea of sex afterwards will seem tarnished, and amidst the fury, hurt, and confusion, the thought that things eventually get better seems distant at best.

It is possible to lead a healthy sex life after sex addiction, for both the addict and their partner. What that means, however, depends entirely on the two of you. There is no perfect rulebook for treating a sex addiction and moving past it. You will have to decide on your own terms how the two of you will be moving forward, both with the relationship and your own individual lives. There will be many decisions to make, none of which should be made early on, but only after the dust has settled and the initial rage and chaos has passed on.


What Is Sex Addiction?

There are several different names for it, but a sex addiction essentially boils down to a process addiction dependent on sexual gratification. Process addictions are addictions that do not involve an addictive substance, but are rooted in a similar cycle of wanting, seeking, gaining pleasure, feeling guilt, and wanting it all over again.

People seek out sex over gambling, food, or drugs for any number of reasons. Most of the time, it is to use sex as an analgesic. Oftentimes, sex addicts struggle greatly with intimacy and love, and seek the instant gratification of a quick affair with a stranger to get off rather than seeking intimacy with a long-time partner. Sometimes, a pattern emerges within times of great stress where a person seeks sex as a way to relieve pressure and feel good, to the point that the taboo of cheating and sneaking off becomes the only way that person can get off.

Sex addictions are primarily characterized by unstoppable behavior despite clear consequences, as well as recognizing that the behavior is a problem (both to the addict and their partner/s). Sex addiction can also manifest through:

  • Constant and uncontrollable inappropriate behavior at work
  • Constant unwanted advances towards others despite rebuffs
  • Very frequent and disruptive masturbation
  • Daily and hours-long viewing of pornography
  • Inability to stop or slow down sexual cravings despite clear consequences
  • Lying about extramarital activities and engaging in them despite the risk

Sex addiction isn’t defined by the amount or kind of sex someone has. It isn’t identified through sexual preference or inclination. It does not depend on the presence of paraphilia (extreme or unusual sexual desires, including fetishism). First and foremost, sex addiction is the need for sexual gratification at all costs. Clinically, someone with sex addiction isn’t so much addicted to sex as they are in need of something to fill a great void or feed an endless cycle. Sex just happens to be the thing they use, rather than gambling or drugs. This is often coupled with a fear of being open and honest with someone else, fear of being vulnerable in a relationship, and inability to develop an honest and intimate bond with another person past the superficial, or without lies.

This is where the first complications arise on the road to recovery. It isn’t that sex addicts are incapable of telling the truth – rather, a major part of recovery involves reforming and improving the bond of trust that was shattered in the early days of the reveal. The possibilities of a relapse coupled with the innate instinct to seek out sexual gratification as a way to cope with the stress of recovery makes this very difficult for both parties. The addicts worry whether they can maintain their commitment, and self-doubt can potentially eat away at them without proper help. The addict’s partner fears trusting them, because it could lead to even more pain, and self-loathing due to ‘falling for it again’.

The first step to leading a healthy sex life is rebuilding the relationship from the ground up, with rules, boundaries, and consequences, after much time spent in treatment.


How Sex Addiction Is Treated

Sex addiction is primarily treated through therapy. Not every sex addiction has a similar root cause, and there are many factors that feed into the origin of a sex addiction, as well as factors that continue to support the addiction in various ways. It takes a professional to accurately diagnose someone with a process addiction and help them determine the best way forward.

Therapy can come in different ways and is usually recommended for both parties. While the addict needs therapy, most partners appreciate help from a therapist as well. The shock of the discovery coupled with the transition through early recovery and the rest of the treatment process can lead to the development of PTSD and other forms of anxiety. Finding out about a partner’s sex addiction can leave a person feeling broken. Therapy can help them put themselves back together.

Couples’ therapy is not a good idea in early recovery, and neither is making any significant decisions about the state of the relationship. It’s important to consider pursuing legal avenues and thinking about divorce, but nothing should be done until the initial shock has worn off, and the reality of the situation is a little easier to swallow and fully comprehend.

Ultimately, sex addicts must confront what they’ve done, come clean to their partners with the full extent of their actions, and seek individual therapy and counseling to understand how to best overcome their weaknesses, address the causes of their behavior, and find out how to be a better human being. Only then can a healthy sex life – and a healthier relationship – eventually develop.


It’s Your Path and Your Path Alone

Whether you decide to stay together is up to you two as consenting adults. If you’re a sex addict and have gone your separate ways, and you’re afraid of striking up a commitment with someone new, then don’t. Seek professional help to discuss your fears and apprehensions and find ways to overcome the worry that things will go wrong.

IF you and your partner decided to keep the marriage or relationship alive, then be sure to give things some time before you reincorporate sex. It’s important to establish rules and boundaries that ensure that both parties trust each other before getting intimate again. It may take months or years, but this is something you have to work at.

There is no right way to lead a healthy sex life after sex addiction. Not having sex isn’t the answer for most people – but reverting to your old ways isn’t it, either. Discover what behavior you and your partner can agree on as normal and acceptable, and what behavior borders on old habits and feelings of betrayal. Then stick to those rules.


Can Stopping Cold Turkey Be Dangerous?

Stopping Cold turkey

The allure of stopping cold turkey is simple: you cut it all out and try not to think about it. Shut it all away into a deep dark corner of yourself and try to run from the terrible cravings that come after. Where many consider weaning off drugs as something too challenging to even attempt, going “cold turkey”, or quitting all drug use abruptly, is very much like ripping a Band-Aid off as fast as possible.

There are pros and cons to this approach. The pros are obvious – it’s easier. For the most part, at least. Going cold turkey, especially when paired with the right environment, is the fastest way to overcome the short-term effects of drug addiction. That doesn’t mean you’re ‘cured’ afterwards, but you do get to a level of complete and lasting sobriety much sooner than if you decided to take things slow and reduce your drug intake over time.

The cons, however, can be significant – depending on your addiction. The two things to worry about when going cold turkey are 1.) stronger withdrawal symptoms, and 2.) a drastically and immediately-reduced tolerance to your drug of choice, making a relapse not only incredibly potent and alluring, but potentially deadly.

Some drugs need to be quit cold turkey, like cigarettes. While uncomfortable, cigarette smoking kills more Americans than anything else on the planet. Cigarettes are still responsible for more deaths than other lifestyle-related heart diseases, drug overdoses, car accidents, and a long list of diseases and illnesses. Cancers, heart problems and respiratory failure induced by long-term cigarette smoking claim the most lives out of any drug and quitting immediately is your best bet to quitting completely.

Other drugs can actually pose a serious threat to your health if you quit suddenly and abruptly. Drugs that primarily slow the body down (alcohol, sedatives, anti-anxiety medication, tranquilizers, depressants, opioids, and glucocorticoids) can lead to very dangerous and even deadly withdrawal symptoms. Alcohol and other depressants like benzos and barbiturates are the most dangerous drugs to go cold turkey on, because the withdrawal symptoms can potentially end your life.

Several factors affect the severity your withdrawal symptoms, including your physical health, your current lifestyle, age, the severity of your drug use, and how long you have been using drugs. It’s impossible to say whether quitting cold turkey would be dangerous or a good idea, but one thing is for certain: it’s best to go cold turkey under medical supervision, regardless of your addiction.


Why Withdrawal Symptoms Occur

Withdrawal symptoms seem like one big mistake in nature’s eye, but they’re a side-effect of having drugs slowly but surely leave the system. The severity of an individual’s drug withdrawal symptoms depends not only on the drug of choice, but underlying issues such as masked malnutrition, sleep deprivation, infections, and chronic pain, as well as the method through which the drug was introduced into the system, and more.

When you start taking drugs, the drugs interfere with the brain’s normal means of communication: neurotransmission. Neurotransmitters are chemicals released on a regular basis to help manage every autonomous function in the body, as well as effect mood and behavior. Drug use can also upset the body’s natural homeostasis, or balance. If your neurotransmitters and hormone levels are going haywire, systems that should be functioning regularly are not functioning at all. Meanwhile, over-stimulation due to staying consistently high can at times damage the brain’s ability to send signals from one area to the next, as well as creating a new “normal” only sustainable through consistent and repeated drug use.

This leads to two things: first, tolerance after drug dependence. This is characterized by needing a higher dosage of the usual drug to elicit the same effects, because the body has gotten used to the old drugs. Secondly, withdrawal symptoms. Quitting causes the body to try and quickly revert back to homeostasis as the remaining drugs are metabolized and disposed of. This can lead to physical and emotional shock. Most withdrawal periods last from anywhere between a few hours to a few days, depending on the drug and the severity and nature of the addiction. Some drugs can cause post-acute withdrawal symptoms, wherein withdrawal symptoms resurface after a few days or weeks of sobriety. Most anecdotal accounts of withdrawal draw parallels between withdrawal symptoms and viral attacks such as the flu. While symptoms differ from drug to drug, common symptoms include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, shivering, and extreme emotional shifts.


Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Alcohol is one of a few different drugs that can potentially be fatal, if you decide to go cold turkey. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop drinking – but it is important to know what you might be in for, and if you’re addicted to alcohol, it’s a good idea to consult a medical professional and sign into rehab or a sober living home before you decide to quit. They can provide you with the necessary medical assistance to ensure that you survive the process and receive the medication and proper care necessary to see you safely through to the other side. Some of the symptoms that can occur with severe alcohol use disorder include:

  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting

About 5% of cases of alcohol withdrawal also experience delirium tremens, a separate set of symptoms that start about 2-3 days after quitting. Other symptoms accompanying DT include:

  • High blood pressure
  • High heart rate
  • Fever/high temperature


Opioid Withdrawal Symptoms

Opioid withdrawal symptoms are similar to alcohol or depressant withdrawal symptoms, but not quite as severe. They’re reported to be similar to the flu. Some expected symptoms include:

  • Insomnia
  • Runny nose
  • Muscle aching
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Diarrhea
  • Goose bumps
  • Shivers
  • Nausea


Stimulant Withdrawal Symptoms

Least severe among major narcotics and illegal drugs, stimulant withdrawal symptoms can still be incredibly uncomfortable. Stimulants are drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, amphetamines, and other drugs that induce a “hyperactive” high. Symptoms include:

  • Feelings of severe depression
  • Lethargy
  • Severe emotional downturn
  • Long-lasting symptoms including anhedonia (lack of pleasure), suicidal ideation

Antidepressants may be prescribed during and after an intense stimulant withdrawal period, to prevent lasting depressive effects. They are not always effective, and therapy may be necessary to treat lasting depression as well as continued cravings and addiction.


Sedative Withdrawal Symptoms

Despite being less fatal than alcohol on its own, benzodiazepines can induce deadly withdrawal symptoms, alongside other sedatives such as barbiturates. Aside from potential heart failure and seizures, other withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Psychosis
  • Nausea
  • Sensory distortions
  • Heart palpitations
  • Agitation
  • Sweating
  • Insomnia
  • Panic


Nicotine Withdrawal Symptoms

Nicotine is a stimulant, and most commonly consumed through cigarettes. While nicotine gum and nicotine patches have been used for decades as ways for nicotine users to quit without the effects of withdrawal, nicotine’s withdrawal symptoms are not likely to be deadly. However, they will be unpleasant. The most common ones are:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Weight gain
  • Insomnia
  • Coughing
  • Sore throat
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Tingling in the extremities
  • Intense cravings


Should You Go Cold Turkey?

It depends. Ideally, you should go to a local addiction specialist and request help through addiction treatment, either through a residential treatment center or an outpatient program after going through detox with medical attention.

Going over your addiction history with a doctor can help make the decision to either wean off or cut off. It’s unwise to stick to medical advice taken off the Internet, so be sure to consult a doctor before deciding anything – especially if you plan to go cold turkey at home.