Sexualized substance use, consumption motives and risk factors for relapse of addiction patients. Results of a cross-sectional study in addiction treatment facilities in Germany.

Friday, 25 November, 2022 - 13:20 to 14:50


Background: Research demonstrates manifold associations between sexuality and substance use as, for example, a higher risk of developing substance use disorders due to sexual abuse or the disinhibitory effects of specific substances which may facilitate and intensify sexual encounters. These associations indicate that sexual activities represent a risk of relapse after completion of addiction treatment. This presentation, therefore, examines if and how the issue of sexuality gets attention in addiction treatment.

Methods: In a cross-sectional study n = 490 patients in various addiction treatment facilities (n = 10) were questioned regarding their sexualized substance use, motives for consumption and sexual settings as a risk factor for relapse.

Results: The average age of the study participants was 35,65 years. 30,1% (n = 147) of the participants were female, while 69,5% (n = 339) were male and two participants (0,4%) identified as diverse. The reasons for being in addiction treatment differ: 23,7% (n = 116) of the participants named alcohol as the main reason for being in treatment, 23,3 % (n = 114) named cocaine, 19,6 % (n = 96) cannabis, 15,9 % (n = 78) amphetamines, 6,3 % (n = 31) heroin/opiates, 5,5 % (n = 27) substances that are used in the context of chemsex (i.e. methamphetamine, mephedrone, GHB/GBL and ketamine) and 5,7 % (n = 28) named other substances such as ecstasy, mdma or benzodiazepines. More than half of the participipants (57,3%, n = 270) stated that they purposefully using substances 'often' and 'very often' for sex. Further 18,3% (n = 86) state, they use substances 'sometimes' for sexual purposes. Women and men equally use substances for sexual purposes to a large extent. Reasons for sexualized substance use are mainly: easier to flirt (61,2%), increased sexual desire (60%), increased sexual self-esteem (59,8%), relaxation (56,7%), increased sexual performance (53,6%) and also increased sexual feelings (49,7%). The study has shown that it substances are usually not used for suppressing negative emotions regarding sexual experiences. 16,7 % (n = 81) of the participants stated that sexual activities are a risk factor of relapse. Stimulant users and polyvalent users estimate a higher risk of relapse when being sexually active, compared to alcohol users (p = .000 and p = .005). Conclusion: Sexualized substance use is a relevant phenomenon among many drug users, therefore it needs to be more established in addiction treatment. This work was support by Federal Ministry of Health, Germany.




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