In a culture obsessed with sex, it might seem surprising that we don’t hear more about sex addiction. However, there is plenty of information for people addicted to alcohol, drugs and gambling. In a culture where sex, like alcohol, is socially acceptable and encouraged, and sexual images and provocation abound, it becomes more challenging to distinguish between normal sexuality and excessive, or abnormal, sexual behavior. However we are becoming better able to understand and treat this sexual disorder.
Sexual Addiction: What is it?
The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behavior acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” In other words, a sex addict will continue to engage in certain sexual behaviors despite facing potential health risks, financial problems, shattered relationships or even arrest.
Behaviors associated with sexual addiction include:
Compulsive masturbation (self-stimulation)
Multiple affairs (extra-marital affairs)
Multiple or anonymous sexual partners and/or one-night stands
Consistent use of pornography
Phone or computer sex (cybersex)
Prostitution or use of prostitutes
Obsessive dating through personal ads
Voyeurism (watching others) and/or stalking
Sexual Addiction: What causes it?
The research of Dr. Patrick Carnes, the leading authority on sexual addiction, has led him to estimate that about 60% of adult sex addicts were sexually abused by someone during their childhood.
Differences between Men and Women in Sex Addiction
Healing from Sex Addiction
1. Relationships. Supportive relationships can assist in healing the trauma and the key to long-term recovery. Addicts cannot recover in isolation. Addicts were wounded in relationships, and they have to heal in relationships. Fellowship is also the antidote to lust. Healthy fellowship is what will help the addict become free from lust.
2. Accountability. It’s not enough to just have fellowship. Addicts can have fellowship that does not involve accountability, and that’s not going to solve the problem. Addicts need people who know their story and who will hold them accountable for the rituals as well as for the acting out.
3. Counseling. The Twelve Steps lead addicts through a methodical process that focuses on their addictive behaviors and on the defects of character that underlie the addictive behaviors. But the Twelve Steps, as wonderful and useful as they are, will not adequately address all the problems of abuse and abandonment that are at the root of sexual addiction. That’s not their goal. The goal of Twelve Step programs is sobriety. And sobriety gives us an opportunity to work on the other problems that have led to the addictions or that accompany the addictions.
4. Courage. Recovery requires courage. It is a difficult journey—and one that is not undertaken lightly or easily. For many giving up an addiction feels like death. It is the addiction that has helped individuals cope with the wounds of abuse and abandonment. When there are no other, healthier coping skills, becoming abstinent from the addictions can be an absolutely terrifying, incredibly painful process. That’s another reason why the fellowship and accountability is so important. Without support individuals will inevitably retreat into “safer” territory.
5. Grace. The experience of grace is central to the recovery process.
If you need additional support and guidance in battling sex addiction then call Life Counseling Solutions today at 407-622-1770. We are here to help you truly live a life you are meant to have. Start your healing journey by calling or making an appointment here.
Janie Lacy, LMHC, NCC, CSAT is an accomplished and well-recognized psychotherapist with over 10 years of experience. She has appeared as a psychological expert on hundreds of local and national radio and television shows discussing topics on relationship trauma, sex & love addiction, and anger management. Ms. Lacy knows how to energize a room and is a highly sought-after event host and a popular professional speaker on toxic love relationships, how to make relationships work, and taming the monster within. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.