What is Sexual Addiction?
Sexual addiction is defined as any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one’s work environment.
Cyber Sex Addiction?
Over 70% of sex addicts report having problems with sexual behavior on the internet. People who already were sex addicts find the internet accelerates their problem. Those who start in the on-line behavior quickly start to act out in new ways off-line.
Behavior of a Sexual Addict:
There is no single behavior pattern that can describe the addiction. Here is a list of the most common behaviors:
- Compulsive masturbation
- Compulsive heterosexual and homosexual relationships
- Exhibitionism= tendency to expose parts of the body that are conventionally concealed, esp. in seeking sexual stimulation or gratification
- Voyeurism= person derives sexual gratification from observing the naked bodies or sexual acts of others, especially from a secret vantage point
- Indecent phone calls
- Child molesting
- Incest=Sexual relations between persons who are so closely related that their marriage is illegal or forbidden by custom
- Rape and violence
Signs of Sexual Addictions:
If you find these symptoms in yourself or anyone you know, it is strongly recommended to seek professional help.
1. Acting out: a pattern of out-of-control sexual behavior.
2. Experiencing severe consequences due to sexual behavior, and an inability to stop despite these adverse consequences.
3. Persistent pursuit of self-destructive behavior.
Being aware of the consequences, the addict chooses to deal with them when they come.
4. Ongoing desire or effort to limit sexual behavior.
5. Sexual obsession and fantasy as a primary coping strategy.
By fantasizing the addict can keep a constant state of arousal. When sexually aroused, our bodies release peptides, which have a molecular construction that parallels that of opiates, just many times more powerful.
6. Regularly increasing the amount of sexual experience because the current level of activity is no longer sufficiently satisfying.
7. Severe mood changes related to sexual activity.
Sex addicts are caught in a crushing cycle of shame-driven and shame-creating behavior. While shame drives the sexual addicts’ actions, it also becomes the unwanted consequence of a few moments of euphoric escape into sex.
8. Inordinate amounts of time spent obtaining sex, being sexual, and recovering from sexual experiences.
9. Neglect of important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of sexual behavior.
Why not just stop the behavior?
Key to understanding the loss of control in addicts is the concept of the “hijacked brain.” Addicts essentially have rewired their brains so that they do behaviors (drinking, drug use, eating, gambling, and sex) even when they are intending to do something quite different. The triggers to these maladaptive responses are usually stress, emotional pain, or specific childhood scenarios of sexual abuse or sexual trauma.
Help for Sex Addiction:
Many sources of help are available to provide information, support, and assistance for sexual addicts trying to regain control of their lives. These include inpatient and outpatient treatment, professional associations, self-help groups, and aftercare support groups.
There are also several treatment centers throughout the world that offer treatment options. For more information, contact the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP) at (480) 575-6853 or Info@IITAP.com.
Here are some of the things you can do:
- Take the Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST) at www.SexHelp.com.
- Contact a Certified Sex Addition Therapist (CSAT) for help. You can find a therapist in your area by calling (800)708-1796 or by visiting www. IITAP.com.
- Twelve-step programs (see Book Resource Guide).
- Visit www.GentlePath.com to browse the online catalog for books and tapes which will help you understand sex addiction.
What about the partners of sex addicts?
Partners of sexual addicts, like partners of alcoholics, can also benefit from counseling and support groups. Normally these partners are codependents, and they, too, suffer from the extreme adverse effects of the addiction. Inpatient and outpatient programs, counseling, and support groups are all available to help them regain control of their lives and support the recovery of their partner.
For Codependents of Addicts:
- A Gentle Path Through the 12 Steps, Patrick Carnes
- Contrary to Love, Patrick Carnes
- Cruise Control, Rob Weiss
- Disclosing Secrets, Deborah Corley & Jennifer Schneider
- Don’t Call it Love, Patrick Carnes
- Facing the Shadow, Patrick Carnes
- In the Shadows of the Net, Patrick Carnes, David Delmonico & Elizabeth Griffin
- Mending a Shattered Heart – A Guide for Partners of Sex Addicts, Stephanie Carnes, Ed.
- Open Hearts – Renewing Relationships with Recovery, Romance & Reality, Patrick Carnes
- Out of the Shadows, Patrick Carnes
- Ready to Heal – Women Facing Love, Sex & Relationship Issues, Kelly McDaniel
- Sex Addicts Anonymous
- Sexual Anorexia, Patrick Carnes
- The Betrayal Bond, Patrick Carnes
- The Clinical Management of Sex Addiction, Patrick Carnes & Kenneth Adams, Eds.
- Untangling the Web: Sex, Porn and Fantasy Obsession, Robert Weiss & Jennifer Schneider
- When He’s Married to Mom, Kenneth Adams
- Women, Sex and Addiction, Charlotte Kasl
- 6 Principles for Achieving Personal Balance, James B Lewis
- Silently Seduced, Kenneth Adams
- Recovery Start Kit, Patrick Carnes
- Addiction Interaction Disorder, Patrick Carnes – CD
- Eroticized Rage, Patrick Carnes – CD
- Facing the Shadow: A Workshop in Sexual Addiction Recovery, Patrick Carnes – CD
- Multiple Addictions: A Workshop in Multiple Addictions Recovery, Patrick Carnes – CD
- Towards a New Freedom, Patrick Carnes – CD