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Coping with Sex Addiction


sex addictionWhen we think of addiction, drugs and alcohol are usually the first things that spring to mind. However, not all addictions are substance based. There are many behavioural addictions that individuals suffer from too, including gambling, shopping, food disorders, and even sex.

What is Sex Addiction?

Relate, the counselling service for relationships, has described sex addiction as any sexual activity that feels as if it is out of control. Sex addiction is not limited to sex with a partner. It can also include chat lines, masturbation, sex with prostitutes, and pornography, which may not be an issue for some people but for addicts, can quickly cause problems in their lives.

Sexual addiction is an intimacy disorder in which the individual is compelled to carry out various sexual acts or has compulsive sexual thoughts. It is similar to a substance abuse, in that the person becomes addicted because of the feel-good hormones (dopamine) that are released into the body and which have an effect on the brain. The hormones are released during sex, giving the individual feelings of pleasure, which, over time, become less powerful. The person then needs to engage in more intense sexual activities to get the same results

What Causes Sex Addiction

There are a number of factors that may cause sex addiction, including depression, neglect, or trauma. It is often the case that an experience or event, which has occurred in the individual’s early life, is the trigger for a sex addiction.

Effects of a Sex Addiction

A sex addiction can cause problems for the sufferer in many ways. One of the main problems is with developing intimacy with a partner. Sex addicts will often find it difficult to maintain long-term relationships.

Sex addictions can also cause major financial problems to those suffering from it and it can affect careers and social relationships as well. Sex addicts often feel that they cannot be loved and this makes them unable to act ‘normally’ around others. Therefore, relationships with other people, even when not intimate, suffer. The affected individuals often create a false persona for others so that their real feelings and desires are not on show.

How to Recognise If You Are Suffering From a Sex Addiction

It is difficult to diagnose a sex addiction but there are certain behaviours that could signify a problem, including:

  • constantly craving sex or being preoccupied with it
  • engaging in sexual activities more often than intended
  • trying to cut down amount of sexual activity but being unable to do so
  • neglecting other areas of life due to constantly thinking about sex
  • wanting to stop but engaging in extreme sexual practices
  • continuing to engage in sexual activity even though it is detrimental to health or other relationships
  • increasing amount of sexual activity or number of partners just to get more pleasure
  • feeling short-tempered when unable to engage in sexual activity
  • spending a lot of time engaged in sexual activities, such as searching the internet for pornographic images or visiting prostitutes.

If you can identify with three or more of the above symptoms, then it is likely you are suffering with a sex addiction. A sex addict will put sexual activities and thoughts about sex above everything else in much the same way that a drug addict or alcoholic will.

Getting Help for a Sex Addiction

A sex addiction is something that not many individuals will want to admit to. There is a certain stigma to it despite it being an illness. However, it needs to be treated and the first step is always going to be admitting there is a problem. Once you have admitted the problem exists, you can begin to get better.

If you can be honest that your sexual activities are out of control and can admit that you need help, you will realise that there are others out there in the same situation as you and that speaking to counsellors and peers will benefit you immensely. Beating a sex addiction is not something you can do alone. You will need support and counselling to help identify the deep-rooted cause of the problem.

Ask a Professional for Help

Many trained therapists and counsellors can help addicts whether they are suffering with a substance addiction or a behavioural addiction. At Addiction Helpline, we are here to answer any questions you may have. We are not here to judge and have dealt with all types of addiction before. You are not the first person to suffer with an addiction to sex and we are sure, you will not be the last. There is no shame in asking for help and we are here to give that to you. We can put you in touch with rehabilitation centres at which you can get the most appropriate treatment for your addiction. Call us today and we will answer your questions and get you the help you need.

How you can Help Yourself

Once you have spoken to a counsellor and have started your recovery programme, you can help yourself in many ways. The first and most important thing to remember is that you need to be one hundred per cent committed to your recovery. Do not see this as a part time venture that you do not need to commit to. Recovery is very important and it will improve your life dramatically, so it needs to be a priority.

Think about meditation as a way to help when cravings strike. Mindfulness is a technique in which individuals learn to focus on the present moment and their feelings and emotions at that time. They learn to become aware of sounds and smells around them and to deal with any feelings in a calm manner. This technique has proved to be a very successful recovery tool.

Be honest with family members and friends about your recovery. If they know you have an illness and that you are getting treatment for it, they will be able to offer support, which you may need. If you feel that you cannot talk to those closest to you, develop relationships with others in your support group. Everyone needs someone to talk to and talking to others also suffering with addiction issues and getting similar treatment to you will be extremely therapeutic.

Once you and your therapist have discovered your triggers, you will be able to learn to avoid them, or at least deal with them effectively. Knowing what causes your addictive behaviour is one of the first steps towards successful recovery.

If you have a spouse or partner, he or she will no doubt be aware of the addiction, and your therapist will probably request that he or she get treatment too. Couples therapy is often very helpful in repairing the relationship. Because sex addiction is typically an addiction disorder, there are obviously problems within the relationship in terms of intimacy. These need to be dealt with in order to fully recover. Make sure you are both committed to the therapy sessions, as you will both benefit in the long term.

Finally, think about a hobby to keep your mind off sex. If possible, try to develop something that you and your partner can enjoy together.

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