Sex Addiction Treatment

WHAT IS SEX ADDICTION?

Sexual compulsivity, addiction and hypersexuality are all ways to define an unhealthy relationship with aspect(s) of sex. 

Because there are so many different ways for people to be sexual the phrase “act out” will be used in the following text in order to describe addictive or compulsive behaviour. 

As with any addictive process we look for the dysfunction in the following key areas:

  • Preoccupation: Obsessive thoughts, fantasy, loss of interest in other pursuits.
  • Loss of Control: Attempts to reduce or stop the acting out behaviour(s) fail.
  • Continued acting out despite negative consequences.

There is no definitive list of specific behaviours because people can sexualise many things. 

Instead we look at factors such as progression of the illness and its effect on the individual as well as those around them. 

With current technology and media, people of all ages are bombarded with mixed messages or triggers daily, without having to actively seek them out. 

Technology plays a huge role in hypersexuality and sexual addiction can be difficult to identify and diagnose because the visible effects are not as obvious as those of chemicals. It is much easier to recognise a drunk or high person than it is to know when somebody has just sexually acted out.

In considering sex addiction it may be useful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does thinking about sex take up more and more of your time?
  • Does sexual activity leave you feeling a sense of shame or remorse?
  • Have you had repeated attempts at controlling the way you act sexually?
  • Do you hide the sexual choices you make in your life?
  • Is anybody (including you) hurt or abused in your sexual encounters, are they consensual?

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS AND EFFECTS OF SEX ADDICTION?

Due to the diversity and complexity of sex addiction, its symptoms and effects can be far ranging.

Problems such as unwanted pregnancy, loss of social status, financial loss, sexually transmitted disease, legal issues, diminished performance at work and stress related illnesses can be common. Emotionally the effects can be severe. Emotional detachment is common and invariably extends to spouses and/or family. 

A sufferer can find themselves isolatory, depressed, anxious or shameful. These symptoms (maybe more so than other addictions) can also appear in spouses or loved ones. Many sex addicts have a fear of abandonment and therefore can remain in destructive and unhealthy relationships.

WHAT IS ADDICTION TO PORNOGRAPHY?

Defined by an ‘excessive’ use of pornography, addiction can be largely subjective given an individual’s perception of what is excessive. What is clear is that the addiction is prevalent when a user continues to watch porn despite negative consequences. It can be identified in many ways.

The reality is that it can develop as a result of learned behaviour and the ‘rewards’ of viewing pornography become all important and therefore necessary to the individual. Porn can be particularly addictive because it taps into a primal survival instinct, want and need… sex.

WHAT MAKES IT AN ADDICTION?

In identifying porn addiction the following questions may prove useful:

  • Do you watch pornography excessively?
  • Does pornography interfere with your daily routine and/or commitments?
  • Have you developed a tolerance for pornography, therefore needing to search for more diverse or explicit forms to satisfy your need?
  • Does pornography affect your daily sex life with a partner?
  • Do you use pornography to alter your mood?

WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS OF PORN ADDICTION?

There can be other causes of addiction to porn such as biological (e.g. a high sex drive), psychological (e.g. the effects of exposure to porn in childhood) or social (e.g. past sexual experience) but what separates the moderate user from the addict is the adverse effect this acting out can have on various areas of their lives.

The damage that can occur as a result of porn addiction can be as severe as is with any addiction. Socially you can become introverted and shy away from potential relationships; emotionally you can become detached; psychologically you can suffer from guilt, shame and confusion and physically you can suffer from a variety of stress related conditions, impotence or premature ejaculation. 

Pornography is easily available to people of all ages. This means that compulsivity can be developed from earlier on in life and last longer, unfortunately giving warped/unrealistic messages about sexual encounters and activity.

HOW IS IT TREATED?

Given the sensitive nature of the topic it is sometimes difficult to ask for help. Having identified with the symptoms it is important that you find help that is both knowledgeable and compassionate to the condition. It may not be perceived by the medical fraternity as any different to other behavioural addictions but to the sufferer that could not be further from the truth. 

Camino understands this and is experienced in this field. It is important that you feel safe and secure in your environment when exploring these behaviours and we place that at the forefront of everything we do.

As with most behavioural addictions there are many processes that can assist in its treatment such as the following:

Please contact Camino for an impartial and confidential conversation to understand the options open to you.

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