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Sex Addiction FAQ

1. What is sex addiction? Sex addiction is a way some people medicate their feelings and/or cope with their stresses to the degree that their sexual behavior becomes their major coping mechanism for stresses in their life. The individual often can not stop this sexual behavior for any great length of time by themselves. The sex addict spends a lot of time in the pursuit of his or her sexual behavior/fantasy or they may have a binge of sexual behaviors.

2. Why do people become sexually addicted? This is different for every sex addict but generally speaking there are biological, psychological, and spiritual reasons. The following is a short explanation of each reason why someone can become a sex addict. The biological addict is someone who has conditioned their body to receive endorphins and enkephlines (brain chemicals) primarily through reinforcing a fantasy state with the ejaculation that provides these chemicals to their brain. Psychologically, the need to medicate or escape physical, emotional or sexual abuse can demand a substance, the early addict finds the sex medicine usually before alcohol or drugs. Spiritually, a person is filling up the God hole in them with their sexual addiction. The addiction is their spirituality, it comforts them, celebrates them and is always available and present. Then there is the sex addict who can be two or even three of the above reasons. This is why a specialist in sex addiction is the best route for recovery with sex addiction.

3. What’s the difference between sex addiction and a high sex drive? I have heard this question on almost every national talk show or radio show I have been on over the years. A person with a high sex drive is satisfied with sex. It’s not about a fix for something; when their partner says “NO” it doesn’t make them go off the handle thinking their partner is totally rejecting them and have to leave the house or act out in some other way. If you can relate to this the chances are there may be an addiction issue.

4. Can you be addicted to masturbation? Yes, this is by far the most common sex addiction that I have treated in working with sex addiction. This usually is the first sexual behavior many of us will have on a repeated basis. This is usually where the sexual compulsion starts with sex addicts and this behavior, regardless of other acquired behaviors, usually stays active.

5. What role does pornography play in sex addiction? Pornography for many sex addicts combined with regular masturbation is the cornerstone for most sex addicts. Many sex addicts have great difficulty getting sober from this combination of behavior. The pornography with fantasy creates an unreal world that the sex addict visits throughout their adolescence and other developmental stages and creates an object relationship that conditions their emotional and sexual self to depend upon these objects and fantasies to meet their emotional and sexual needs hundreds of times before having sex with a real person.

6. Can someone be a sex addict and not be sexual with their spouse or committed relationship? YES! We call this later stage of sex addiction, sexual anorexia. In this stage of sex addiction, the addict prefers the fantasy world and fantasy sex with themselves or others instead of relational sex with their spouse or partner. The addict/anorexic avoids relational sex and hence this couple has sex infrequently and often at the partners request not the addict/anorexics.

7. What is it like to live with a sex addict from a partner’s or wife’s perspective? The partners/wives of sex addicts report many similar feelings about living with the sex addict. The feeling of aloneness is a common experience with partners of sex addicts, the sense that he can’t open up and tell you about his “real” self. The confusion of even after you do certain behaviors that this still is not enough and the hopelessness that there isn’t enough. Anger for many different unmet needs as a person and as a woman are often common.

8. Can partners get help even if the sex addict doesn’t? Yes, even if the addict stays in denial of their addiction the partner can receive help and support for herself. The feelings of anger, loss, loneliness and many other feelings encountered over the years of living with this addiction will effect a person. These feelings need to be dealt with therapeutically whether they stay married to the addict or not. The addiction was in no way your doing as a partner or wife, the addicts addiction started many years before you even met your addict. This addiction would have grown and damaged anyone they would have related to in any relationship.

9. Is there recovery for sex addiction? Yes, there is recovery for sex addiction. This recovery takes time and hard work especially in the first year but with guided help the sex addict can experience restoration in their emotional, relational, sexual, financial and even spiritual lives. I have seen marriages made better than they ever were and addicts live much happier lives than they ever thought possible. I have been in successful recovery over eleven years and I know it’s available for those who choose to work for and maintain recovery.

10. Is there research on sex addiction available? There is research being done in the field of sexual addiction. The monitored mail list of Heart to Heart Counseling centers provides weekly research information as well as excerpts from 101 Practical Exercises for sexual addiction recovery as well as Twelve Step discussions.

11. Can women be sex addicted? Yes! The number of women desiring treatment is growing significantly. The behaviors are the same as their male counterparts including: masturbation, pornography, internet activity, anonymous encounters and affairs. Over twenty recovering female sex addicts contributed in writing She Has a Secret: Understanding Female Sexual Addiction. This book plus the Secret Solutions Workbook, with over 115 helpful techniques for recovery is just for her. If you would like to set up a telephone counseling appointment to start your journey of recovery, call today. There is hope for female sex addicts to recovery.

12. Is there any way to help our children not become sexually addicted? Yes! Even though many of our adult male clients report that their fathers were sex addicts (porn, affairs, prostitutes etc.) they also report getting little to no proper sexual information to balance their sexual perspective. Good Enough to Wait is the first video of this kind to help your children understand sex and the brain, the long-term affects of pornography, long term sexual satisfaction and a whole lot more. This is the best combination of sex research and spiritual principles to date for youth to watch to give them a proper and currently informed sex talk.

What Is Sex Therapy In Terms Of Sex Addiction Recovery?

What is sex therapy? It is a form of psychotherapy. In therapy, people can work with a therapist either on their own or with their spouse or partner. The issues can range from childhood trauma, abuse, neglect or intimacy to sexual concerns such as feelings or function. It is a helpful way for adults, regardless of sexual orientation, age or gender to work through their problems. In particular, sex therapy is an important part of the recovery process for many people who have struggled with sex addiction.

In general, sex therapy is conducted by licensed professionals including psychologists, physicians and therapists. CSAT’s, certified sex addiction therapists are best suited to handle the problems of sexually addicted individuals. Other professionals have a specialized expertise in the field of sexual/relationship therapy. A reputable sex therapist will have a graduate degree and credentials through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT).

People who are struggling with sex addiction will not always be at a point where they are ready for sex therapy. In most cases, sex therapy is meant to be a short-term treatment option. However, the treatment plan for sex therapy is based on the individual. Once a sex addict is ready for sex therapy as an individual or with his or her partner or spouse, he or she may work with the therapist to address specific treatment goals.

There is one big misconception that needs to be cleared up when it comes to sex therapy. At no time during any therapy session by certified sex therapists should there be sexual contact with the patients either in the office or off-site. If you or someone you know is going to a “therapist” who engages in contact with them, this behavior should raise a red flag. Sex therapy, like other forms of therapy involves verbal communication between the therapist and the patient.

So what exactly does sex therapy involve? Why should anyone, let alone sex addicts see a sex therapist? The answer is quite simple: Sex therapy is an effective way to help people resolve their concerns about sexual desire or arousal, sexual interests or orientation, compulsive sexual behavior, erectile dysfunction, ejaculating too quickly (premature ejaculation), trouble reaching orgasm, painful intercourse and intimacy issues related to a disability or chronic condition just to name a few. All of these concerns can be worked through with the guidance of a licensed therapist.

Let’s face it, discussing sex and intimacy issues can be a very sensitive subject. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that sex therapists are professionals. Your therapist will help you begin to feel comfortable discussing your concerns. A therapist’s office is a safe setting where you can feel comfortable expressing yourself without judgment or condemnation. It is a place where you and your partner or spouse can learn and grow together. For sex addicts, learning how to move beyond sexually compulsive behaviors and developing healthy sexual behaviors, relationships and intimacy is of utmost importance.

It is natural to feel reluctant to take the first step and commit yourself to sex therapy. You might feel you need to somehow prepare for it. In reality, all you need to do is search for a certified therapist whom you and your spouse or partner (if you are attending as a couple) feel comfortable with and trust. A good place to start is by talking to your primary care doctor. He or she can give you a referral to either a therapist or to a sex therapy clinic. Some health insurance programs or employee programs offer recommended listings for licensed professionals such as sex therapists. Another good option is to find certified members of the AASECT in your area. Finally, if you are enrolled in a sex addiction treatment program, they might recommend a number of ideal options for you.

There are many considerations you will want to keep in mind before you decide on a therapist. It is important to research the therapist’s credentials including education, training, accreditation and licensing. For sex addicts, you may also want to know the therapist’s level of experience in dealing with issues specific to sex addiction. Other considerations might include the office location and hours, session length, treatment length, frequency of sessions, cost, insurance coverage and payment options.

Communication is essential to successful results from sex therapy. You must ensure you and your spouse or partner are comfortable with the therapist you decide on. Take some time after your consultation to evaluate how you feel about the therapist and if you feel you can develop a strong line of communication with this individual. There is no shame in asking for a referral if it isn’t a good match.

Once you have selected a therapist who you feel comfortable with, you may still be a bit apprehensive. Understanding what to expect might help ease your concerns. Initially, you should expect to discuss your sexual concerns. As a sex addict, you will need to discuss the nature of your sexual addiction and the steps you have taken for recovery. Essentially, you need to give the therapist a broad overview of your situation. Ultimately, the therapist will use this information to help you build communication and improve your intimacy problems.

If you are attending sex therapy as a couple with your spouse or partner, you should expect to be asked to do a number of homework exercises. These may include reading about sexual techniques, slowing down and concentrating on your senses during sexual encounters and changing the way you relate to your spouse or partner during sex. As a sex addict, it may also include learning to develop healthy sexual behaviors with your spouse or partner.

The length of your therapy will vary based on your particular needs. It can be as short as a handful of sessions or last for several months. Your experiences outside of therapy will play a large role in determining the direction of your therapy sessions. It is also important to remember sex therapy should not include physical contact between you and the therapist. This is not an accepted part of mainstream sex therapy treatment.

Finally, you need to remember sex therapy will often be just small part of your treatment, especially when recovering from sex addiction. Other considerations such as stress, anxiety, depression and medical issues will also require treatment. Sex therapy will help you develop healthy sexual behaviors and restore your sexual relationship with your spouse or partner.

Do You Know Someone With A Sex Addiction?

Sex is not a comfortable topic for many people, even though talk about it has become more open and relaxed. People may speak freely of their sexual experiences and particular taste, but what remains taboo are the sexual problems of individuals. Men find talking to their doctors about erectile dysfunction problematic, so it’s not surprising that confronting another person about their possible sex addiction would be even more challenging and awkward.

Many addicts choose to seek help from a licensed professional, an expert in the field. However, sex addiction is probably a subject most comfortably discussed among family, closes friends and spouses. For the moment let’s address the issue from the friend and family point of view.

Here are some signs a person you know might have a sex addiction:

1. Is their sexual behavior leading to problems?

Are pregnancy scares a common thing for them? Have they caught or transmitted an STD? Being careless about safe sex, having random sex, or having multiple partners are signs of sex addiction. These behaviors show the person has placed fulfillment of sexual needs above all other priorities. Are they putting themselves at risk for problems as a result of their sexual behavior? Sex in the workplace creates a risk of being fired, as does masturbation and viewing pornography while on the job. Even if this is done off site during a lunch hour, these activities show a lack of control and the inability to separate appropriate and inappropriate behaviors.

Some other problems not as tangible, and not as easy to see, are ones involving how much time an individual spends on sex. Oftentimes, the addict will cancel plans to go out or visit, preferring to stay in to watch porn, and/or masturbate. People with an addiction to porn will spend inordinate amounts of time watching videos and films, excluding family and friends. Have they given up hobbies they once enjoyed? Stopped going out on weekends? Maybe you used to talk to them often and they haven’t been as available recently?

What might be more visible are their romantic relationships. Do they bounce from one person to another in rapid succession? Are they having a series of “one-night stands? While there is no definitive amount of time one should devote to sex, or a way to measure how much sex is “normal,” if someone you know seems like he or she is only in a relationship for the sex, and have been frustrated in forming a real bond, that could be a sign of addiction.

Keep in mind one can be “addicted to love.” The act of seduction and the rush of brain chemicals produced when a relationship is in its early stages can form a sex addiction. While men and women can suffer this, female sex addicts are more likely to exhibit this behavior. It may not involve actual sex, but a person who is constantly starting new relationships (sometimes before the previous one ends) or flirts excessively may be showing signs of sex addiction.

2. Do they often talk about sex?

People tend to discuss subjects of interest to them, daily occurrences or events they have experienced. Is your friend bringing up pornography often in idle conversation? Such talk between friends is normal, but note how often the individual talks about it. Does it seem like that is the only thing he or she has to discuss? Are sex and pornography the only topics that seem to peak this person’s interest or gets the individual animated? It is possible that’s all he or she talks about because it’s all that person has to talk about. A porn addict can spend the bulk of his or her free time viewing pornography, leaving them with little else to speak of in conversation.

This can be tricky; each person is different, as is each friendship. A person addicted to sex may not talk about it, feeling shame and guilt, or they may bring it up at inappropriate times.

Note things other than speech, too. Having a poster of an attractive model in one’s room is common. Having one’s screen saver set to show hardcore pornography might be cause for concern. Do they have pornographic backgrounds on their mobile phones? Inappropriate ring tones? While these may be signs of mere tastelessness, they can also be signs of this addiction.

3. Have they brought up sex addiction in conversation?

Many sex addicts suffer from this addiction for a long time before suspecting they have it, and then a longer time before they stop denying it. If they’ve broached the subject of sex addiction, they may be testing the waters, so to speak, to see how you will react. Many sex addicts feel ashamed of themselves and keep their addiction a secret for fear they will lose friends. It’s not likely they will admit to having a sex addiction, but they may ask you your opinion on it, or talk more in depth about a high profile celebrity claiming to suffer from the issue. They may even mock the notion of sex addiction, feeling you suspect them of it and wanting to alleviate your suspicions.

How you feel about sex addiction is up to you, but most people taking this approach are scared and looking for support and your reaction could affect their choice in receiving professional help.

For spouses and romantic partners, you have a more intimate knowledge of the suspected sex addict than anyone else. Some things you should look for if you suspect your significant other may be suffering from this addiction are:

· Are they becoming more demanding about sex with you?

If is fairly normal for two people in a couple to have differing libidos. It’s also pretty common for sex to put a strain on a relationship. How your partner reacts to being told “no” and how insistent is he/she on the subject of sex is an example of where red flags may appear. An addict in need of a substance can become highly agitated when they don’t get it. Spousal rape is a real thing, and just because they didn’t coerce you into sex with force doesn’t mean there wasn’t a transgression. A sex addict can exploit the power dynamic in a relationship, threaten to do something negative, or withhold something from their spouse to get sex. If they’ve resorted to these harmful behaviors, oblivious to the emotional damage being caused, that’s a sign of addiction.

· Are they going somewhere else for sex?

Being unfaithful doesn’t necessarily mean your partner is a sex addict, but it is certainly one indication, especially if this isn’t the first time. While this may be a sign of a troubled marriage, if the bond between you is otherwise strong, the infidelity may be sue to the addiction. An addict craves the physical act of sex, or the intoxicating feeling of a new relationship, they are not necessarily in love with the other person or not in love with you. Often, addicts aren’t even interested in the act of sex, but in the repetitive behavior that leads up to the act, creating the dopamine levels the addict craves.

Remember, pornography and masturbation are sex acts. Is your spouse on the computer in the early morning hours before work? Do they hide large amounts of pornography on the computer? Are they less interested in sex with you? How you feel about some masturbation and pornography use is up to you. Some levels of self-gratification and porn are not detrimental, but if the use of these sex acts is at a point of contention, and your partner hasn’t given it up, that’s a sign they’re dealing with an unhealthy compulsion.

It is important to realize that only the addict himself/herself can really know the depths of their addiction and it is the individual that must realize he or she is suffering before treatment and recovery can be sought.