Sex Addiction

How To Recover & Find Support for Sex Addiction

In most people’s minds, addiction has to do with substances. We usually think of drugs, alcohol, or gambling as addictions that people might struggle with. Most people recognize that addicts have an inability to control themselves around these activities and usually need rehabilitation to break free from addiction.

When someone engages in frequent sexual activities, and sexual thoughts consume most of their waking hours, this can be a form of addiction as well. Someone with a need to engage in sexual activities to achieve a kind of “fix” has a relationship with sex that is similar to a person with an alcohol-use disorder who needs a drink. At this point sex has the potential to negatively impact a person’s physical and mental health, personal relationships, quality of life, and safety.

The American Society of Addiction Medicine defines addiction as a “chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry” that “is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors”.

Addiction seems to have a fairly straightforward list of characteristics, and when these are caused by illicit substances, it makes sense that they would have a damaging impact on a person’s life. But sex is a normal, healthy, and even necessary part of a human life, which cannot be said of drugs or alcohol. If that’s the case, how can sex be an addiction?
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What is Sex Addiction?

On the whole, sex addiction is widely debated among clinicians. While some believe that hypersexuality (as it is often referred) is a lack of impulse control often rooted in depression or anxiety, some psychologists believe that a higher sex drive may be the root cause.

Hypersexuality was previously included in the DSM-4 (the authoritative text for mental health diagnoses), but it was not included in the newer DSM-5. Due to a lack of empirical evidence, many experts do not believe that hypersexuality can be classified as a true addiction.

Physical

Suffering from a sex addiction puts both men and women at risk for contracting an STI (sexually transmitted infection) which can often develop into an STD (sexually transmitted disease). There are various infections and diseases that can cause pain or discomfort. There is also the danger of more serious, life-threatening conditions. For women, you place yourself at risk for an unplanned pregnancy.

Emotional

Sexual addiction can cause you to feel anxious and struggle with feelings of shame. You may find that it's hard to regulate your emotions and confused about your relationships. This may cause one to jump from relationship to relationship leaving you unsettled with no true connection to someone.

Spiritual

You may feel an emptiness in your soul when suffering from a sexual addiction. You may feel hopeless; worried that you'll ever be able to break free, even though you desperately want to make a positive change. It's important to understand that there is a spiritual side to sexual addiction that needs healing as well.

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Am I A Sex Addict?

Hypersexuality, while possibly not an addiction in the classic sense, can still pose a potential threat to one’s health and relationships.

According to Psychology Today, these factors may be a symptom that your sexual activity has crossed over from healthy to problematic. For a period of at least six months you:

• Have recurrent, intense sexual fantasies, urges, and/or behaviors

• The behaviors consistently interfere with other activities and obligations

• Sexual behaviors occur in response to anxiety, depression, boredom, irritability, or stressful life events

• Consistent but unsuccessful efforts to control or reduce sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors

• Engage in sexual behaviors while disregarding the potential for physical or emotional harm to self or others

• The frequency or intensity of sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors cause significant distress or impairment

Just like any addiction, an overindulgence in sexual activity can become a hindrance to your everyday life and personal relationships.
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Treatment for Sex Addiction

There is debate among experts as to what may cause sexual addiction. Some say it may be linked to previous sexual abuse or emotional trauma.

Treatment for sexual addiction should always begin with seeking a trained medical professional, such as a licensed counselor. Someone with the proper training will help you be able to identify whether or not you truly exhibit hypersexuality and can walk you through your next steps for treatment.  There are also many 12-step programs that have been proven to be effective as well...and they're FREE, which is even better.

Sexuality is a normal, healthy, and beautiful part of being a human, but just like all things, it can be detrimental when it becomes a part of unhealthy behavior patterns. For individuals who are potentially addicted to sex, seeking out help is a vital. There is hope that these individuals can learn how to engage in sex in a healthy way.

If you struggle with compulsive sexual behavior and are facing discouragement, our Hope Coaches are available to help you on your journey toward freedom. God loves you and yearns for you to overflow with hope and not despair.

SPIRITUAL PRACTICE

Recognizing that your urges are stronger than what you can resist on your own, is the first step in knowing you need help. The good news is there is a Source available for you to find hope in those times you feel too weak to overcome. God is there to help provide you with the strength you need in your times of weakness. The Bible tells us, “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (Isaiah 40:29)

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