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.

10 Common Questions Men Have About Sex Addiction

1. Question: Am I a sex addict?

Answer: There are a number of red flags that can signal an addiction to sex. A person who uses sexual activity be it intercourse, viewing pornography, phone sex, chat rooms, prostitution or masturbation as a numbing agent, something to prevent them from feeling bad, may have a sex addiction. Other indicators the sexual behavior is causing the addict problems include their spouse becoming upset over their behavior or they’ve gone into debt over payment for phone sex lines or Internet pornography sites. Spending an excessive amount of time viewing pornography Over 10 hours a week is another red flag, since this sexual behavior is interfering with time spent with friends, family or at work.

Another key factor is the addict has tried to stop engaging in sexual behavior but failed. When all these things come together, it’s time to ask a professional about getting help.

2. Question: Can I be cured?

Answer: Many sex addicts have reported being able to bring their sexual behavior under control, through any one of a variety of treatment methods. Some attend intensive rehabilitation facilities; others go to therapy sessions, attend 12 step meetings or use medication and a host of other techniques to control their sexual behavior. This can include finding a trusted person to act as an “accountability partner.” Or for pornography addicts, it can mean the use of pornography blocking computer programs.

3. Question: Does being cured mean I give up sex?

Answer: No. Unlike chemical dependencies related to alcohol or drugs, sex is recognized as a healthy aspect of life. Treatment for sex addiction, while it does involve a period of abstinence, seeks to bring harmful and unwanted troublesome sexual activity under control to where it is no longer causing harm. It may lead to stopping viewing pornography, discontinuing solicitation of prostitutes and other “bottom line” behaviors or even illegal activities. The goal is stopping harmful behavior, but certainly not giving up sex.

4. Question: Is sex addiction even real, or just something people use to excuse their behavior?

Answer: Truth be told, there are some experts who don’t feel sex addiction is real and say it’s more a product of conflicting social norms and mores. Other say sex addiction exists but do not feel it meets the definition of an addiction in the same way addiction to alcohol or drugs does. For a sex addict seeking treatment, it may be a moot point. To get treatment, first one has to recognize they have a problem and stop trying to use their own willpower alone to control it. Many people have sought treatment for sex addiction and reported results. Much of the criticism about its validity has been aimed at celebrities embroiled in public sex scandals and is hardly analogous to the average person not living in the public eye. Sex addiction is real and one struggling with unwanted sexual behaviors certainly can attest to that fact.

5. Question: What caused this? How did I get to be this way?

Answer: There is no definitive cause for sex addiction, and for each person it will be different. Many sex addicts report being sexually abused at a young age and growing up with a distorted view of sex and what a healthy sex life should be. For others, it is simply the rush of chemicals in their brain after discovering a parent’s pornography stash or coming across it in some other fashion. Still others indicate the accessibility of Internet pornography had them fall into a cycle, while there are those who turned to using sex as a numbing agent during a difficult period in their lives and began relying on it as a coping mechanism. For some growing up with abuse, neglect, abandonment and enmeshment have cause the to seek out other ways to feel good about life and themselves.

While knowing the cause of sex addiction is important, those on the path to recovery should not seek to dwell on the unchangeable past; instead, they need to focus on their present actions.

6. Question: Does viewing pornography and sexual interaction over the Internet count as cheating on my spouse?

Answer: Not to be glib, but it can depend on the spouse. Certainly many women do feel that their spouses having cybersex or phone sex with another woman qualifies as infidelity. They may not react in the exact same way as if it had been physical sex with another woman, but the impact on a relationship can be dire. First, the wife will feel betrayed. She won’t trust her husband if he’s been hiding his behavior. She may can feel bad about herself, perhaps thinking some failing on her part led the husband to seek these sexual outlets.

Even pornography viewing can be a sore spot for women. Society places a lot of pressure on women to be physically attractive and sexually desirable and they may feel they are in competition with actresses in pornographic videos. This can affect their self-esteem, even if they do not confront their husband about the behavior.

7. Question: Can medication lower my sex drive so I don’t have this problem.

Answer: Yes and no. There are medications out there that can lower a person’s sex drive, and they are often used to treat sex addiction. However, they are limited in their power to erase the problem completely. Some form of therapy, be it a 12 step program or other process, is required.

8. Question: Will I ever be cured or is this a lifelong problem?

Answer: Many people report being able to bring their sexual behaviors under control, sometimes after a period of months or years, and are living lives relatively free of problems related to sex addiction. These people have addressed the factors in their life they had once sought to control by using sex; they have now embedded into their lives multiple tools to avoid falling back into destructive addiction cycles. For some, there is always the fear they will relapse, and some do struggle with sex addiction for long periods of time. There is no quick fix for the problem.

9. Question: I’m also addicted to alcohol. Is my sex addiction just a sign that I’m susceptible to addictive behaviors in general?

Answer: In some ways, yes. Many sex addicts report being addicted to alcohol, drugs, or behaviors such as gambling. They also claim family members with various addictions. It’s certainly been theorized that a person can have a genetic predisposition to addictive behaviors. As to treating multiple addictions, it should be noted that many sex addiction treatment programs are modeled after alcohol treatment techniques developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. 12 step programs such as Sexaholics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous model their programs after and borrow their literature from that organization.

10. Question: Am I really a sex addict or is my sex drive just naturally high?

Answer: The difference between a sex addict and a person who enjoys a lot of sex has to do with why the behavior is being sought and the inability to stop an unwanted behavior as well as the obsession and compulsion. A person with a high sex drive is aroused and in most cases can control acting on that arousal. A sex addict is engaging in sex as a coping mechanism, isolating themselves from others even if they have a real life partner for the sex, and engaging in the sex act compulsively. They may feel shame after they complete the act, or some general feelings of depression. Actual arousal is not the primary motivator.