Teen compulsive sexual behavior, mental health and drug abuse

By Matt Bulkley | Blog Education Series

STAR Guides Wilderness - Teen compulsive sexual behavior, mental health and drug abuse

In many cases, teens struggling with compulsive sexual behavior also struggle with mental health issues including anxiety, depression as well as drug and alcohol abuse. This can make it difficult for parents to know which issue to focus on when it comes to seeking treatment.

Our advice to parents is simply to get help early for all of these problems. Identifying and treating early symptoms may help prevent compulsive sexual behavior from getting worse over time or escalating into a downward spiral of shame, self-esteem problems and harmful acts. Treating compulsive sexual behavior includes a comprehensive assessment of all aspects of a teens functioning including mental health and substance abuse problems. Treating co-occurring disorders is common in sexual addiction treatment because compulsive sexual behavior may be worsened by depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive behavior.

Teens who are also abusing drugs or alcohol can experience a loss of control that can lead to poor judgment and may push them toward unhealthy sexual behaviors and a stronger addiction to drugs

Another common factor in teen compulsive sexual behavior is childhood sexual abuse. Many teens with compulsive sexual behavior were sexually abused as children. Professional treatment for being the victim of sexual abuse can help heal those emotional scars as well.

Compulsive sexual behavior can have numerous negative consequences for teens including:

  • Feelings of guilt, shame and low self-esteem.
  • Development other mental health conditions, such as depression, extreme stress and anxiety.
  • Dishonest behavior with family, friends and destroying meaningful relationships.
  • Contracting HIV, hepatitis or another sexually transmitted infection, or passing a sexually transmitted infection to someone else.
  • Developing a substance use addiction.
  • Being arrested for sexual offenses.
  • School failure.

Unwanted pregnancy and its consequences.

About the Author

Matt is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of youth treatment and psychotherapy since 1995. He did his undergraduate work at BYU and earned his M.S.W. at the University of Utah. He has worked in a variety of treatment setting in his career ranging from wilderness therapy and residential treatment to outpatient treatment and state government.

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