Sex addiction is a type of behavior commonly referred to as a “process addiction,” similar to gambling or eating disorders. Sex addiction is one of the least understood addictions in our society. Many people believe that it is used as an excuse to justify immoral behavior. The truth is that sex addiction is very real and a widespread addiction that many people struggle with. People who suffer from sex addiction endure negative emotions of guilt and shame.
Facts About Sex Addiction
A sex addict may feel a lack of control over their desire to engage in sexual activities. People struggling with sex addiction will engage in risky behaviors that can cause serious consequences to themselves and others. Some of these behaviors include:
- Multiple or anonymous sexual partners
- Compulsive use of pornography
- Unprotected or reckless sex
- Phone or computer sex
- Compulsive dating app use
- Voyeurism (watching others)
- Sexual harassment
- Compulsive masturbation
- Extra-marital affairs
Some behaviors that may indicate whether a person has a sex addiction are:
- an abundance of time devoted to planning sexual activity
- interference of work or school to engage in sexual activities
- inability to have an emotional connection to a sexual partner
- inability to hold a committed relationship
- feelings of guilt or shame from the sexual encounters
- inability to stop engaging in sexual behaviors
- addiction to internet pornography and dating websites
- sexual encounters with an excessive amount of partners
As human beings, our sex drive differs from person to person. Some may have a stronger sex drive, and others may have a weaker one. There is no standard way to distinguish between a normal and abnormal sex drive. Therefore, a person who may be addicted to sex shares three characteristics: their inability to stop, their inability to avoid high-risk situations in the pursuit of sexual gratification, and their lives become dysfunctional and unmanageable.
Sex Addiction Recovery
Treating sex addiction is a similar concept to treating any addiction. The first step is to acknowledge and accept that there is a negative and destructive pattern of behavior that someone is engaging in. This is usually done with a counselor in a judgment-free environment. Once the individual has separated themselves from their harmful sexual compulsions, they will then undergo intensive therapy. Trained professional therapists work with the individual in one-on-one or group sessions to light the underlying causes of an individual’s unwanted behaviors. As with any addiction, the key component is the individual having the desire to stop their self-harming behavior.
Individual counseling is a one-on-one therapy session with an addiction treatment counselor. During these sessions, the therapist works to find the deep-rooted issues that may have been causing their distress. After which, they will work to provide healthy solutions on how to deal with those issues.
Group sessions require meeting with other individuals who share the same similar issues. During these meetings, each person may share their stories. Group counseling creates a supportive environment amongst peers and helps the people feel understood and accepted. A connection with others through the sharing of deeply personal feelings can be transformative for many people that struggle with sex addiction.
Many addicts who have completed their addiction rehab program find it difficult to return to their previous lifestyle without a desire to fall back on old habits and behaviors. This is because they may feel that they have lost the support of their recovery community and do not have the tools to handle uncomfortable emotions quite yet. Aftercare helps transition the individual to learn how to deal with all the complex emotions they will encounter. This may include 12 step programs or other peer support groups. The following situations can cause an individual to relapse after treatment: seeing old friends or acquaintances, stress from your job, falling behind on missed schoolwork or project at work, financial problems, inability to communicate effectively, etc.