ICE AND SEX: IT’S COMPLICATED
Families and partners will often confide that their loved one is not only using ICE but that their sexual conduct has changed dramatically since they started using. The most common concerns are that of infidelity among partners and the addicted adult children of concerned family members turning to sex work. Family members are quite understandably shocked and concerned. It is important to understand that ICE addiction fundamentally changes the addict’s attitude towards sex. Sex becomes a compulsive need that cannot go unquenched.
Sexual inhibition plays a part in most people’s life. Our fantasy sex life can have little resemblance to our actual sex life. Performance anxiety, negative body image and general feelings of inadequacy are common. Like alcohol to a much lesser extent, ICE frees the user of any such restrictive feelings. Where one may have felt self-conscious and inhibited they now feel omnipotent and able to perform sexually as never before. Men are able to maintain an erection and physically perform for hours on end. And women experience their sex drive going through the roof, also wanting to have sex for hours and easily reaching climax multiple times throughout the night. Sexual acts that may have been beyond your normal repertoire now become the norm. Couples that may have experienced mundane sex lives suddenly find themselves living out erotic fantasies they had not been able to discuss or request before.
This is a double edged sword as sex which once seemed exciting can now seem boring and mundane leading to the “boundaries’ of erotica being pushed further and further.
Unfortunately this over aroused state often leads users into vulnerable situations. Women, in particular, can find themselves in what started out as consensual, enjoyable sex suddenly being pushed to engage in acts they usually wouldn’t agree to. Men inviting their mates to “join in” what started as a two consensual adults and ending in gang rape is sadly to common a story. Unsafe sex is common, as the loss of one’s inhibitions includes not insisting on using condoms.
ICE has resulted in an explosion in group sex, unsafe sex and slam parties where users inject (slam) ICE and then engage in group sex for hours. This has resulted in HIV currently being on the rise in Australia in amongst gay ICE users. This is demonstrated by recent reports of the rise of the Sex on Premises Industry where men will congregate in spas and saunas for the purpose of sex. It’s commonly accepted ICE is freely used and available on these premises for those willing to participate in sexual activity. Vulnerable addicts often willing to satisfy others for free ICE.
The sex industry has also seen a significant rise the number of men and women applying for sex work. What once seemed abhorrent work now seems not only quite doable, but enjoyable, when using ICE. ICE use and the sexualised high it invokes have opened up sex work to a whole new generation of drug users. Not only are more people applying to work in brothels but they can also work much longer hours Men who are unable to find a sexual partner to use with will often spend thousands of dollars in brothels and on escorts to experience ICE sex. In short ICE has been an absolute boon for the sex industry. More clients and more workers all engaging for longer means and much larger profits for sex industry operators.
ICE can often lead to heterosexual people pushing their personal sexual boundaries to include same sex partners and group sex. Men and women usually identifying as heterosexual will find themselves in situation where they are engaging in gay and group sex to satisfy the intense sexual craving that come with ICE. One can literally enter an over aroused alpha like state where they have so little awareness of anything beyond their immediate surrounds that ANY type of sexual activity becomes desirable. This behaviour outside the “norm’ of ones heterosexual identification can also lead to extreme shame and reluctance to engage in treatment through fear they might be “discovered.”
Pornography can also play major part in ICE Addiction. For those that either cannot find sexual partners or afford sexual services, pornography can fill that void. It’s common to hear men recall watching porn and masturbating literally for hours on end. They will often venture into more extreme online content in an effort to satisfy the sexual craving. As the user slowly becomes desensitised to “normal’ sexual titillation after long term pornography use and craves more extreme visual arousal while high on ICE. Whether it involves group sex, same sex, violent sex, etc. Once again, this often leads to feelings guilt, shame and fear of being exposed as a sexual deviate after the fact.
ICE Sex can be as addictive as the high itself. The craving for sex is often as powerful as the craving for the drug because they become one and the same. I’ve had many clients say to me that unless they had a sexual partner wanting to get high with them they wouldn’t even bother using ICE by themselves. “What’s the point, I’m just going to sit there pulling myself for hours’ they’d say.
Unfortunately what goes up must also come down, and that includes ones libido. ICE users most often report a disinterest in sex after they stop using and a general apathy towards the opposite sex. This in turn leads to depression and ICE use relapse.
Many ICE users say that they don’t want to give up ICE because they don’t want to give up the ICE sex. Treatment for ICE addiction must take this into consideration. With intensive treatment this fear that one may not ever enjoy sex again must be confronted and resolved. This is part of the reason that we provide same sex treatment centres. Not only do ICE addicts display highly sexualised behaviour when they enter treatment but they also need a safe, desexualised space in order to properly focus on treatment and recover.
Then there are also the long term daily ICE users that have become so permanently paranoid and neurotic that performing sexually becomes impossible. They have become both physically and emotionally drained where they are simply trying to survive minute to minute and sexual activity is beyond them. These ICE users have reached a stage of isolation and mental anguish that renders them incapable of interacting with others to the level required to engage sexually. They may desire sex and feel the need but are so overcome with anxiety and fear induced by the ICE they simply dare not try. This is often referred to Crystal Dick.
This all creates a quandary for the addict. While addicts can see ICE creates chaos and mayhem in one’s life, it paradoxically “improves” their sex life. So when treating ICE addiction, it is vital to treat ones often co-morbid Sex Addition to ensure long term recovery. A program that does not explore these issues and put them on the table as a major factor in recovery is not giving you or your beloved addict the best possible chance of successful long term recovery.