Sexual Addiction

“Just as a heroin addict chases a substance-induced high, sex addicts are bingeing on chemicals — in this case, their own hormones.”

Alexandra Katehakis

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) 12 million people suffer from sexual addiction in the United States. The increased accessibility of sexual content obtainable on the Internet and cable television these numbers continue to grow. As a result of increased exposure and societal norming this addiction often goes unreported or recognized. In addition, individuals may not seek help due to the high degree of shame associated with a problem in this area. Although sexual addiction is commonly perceived as just being about ‘too much sex’, it is much more than this.

WHAT DEFINES SEXUAL ADDICTION

  1. Individuals who develop a pattern of uncontrollable sexual behaviors such as; compulsive masturbation, chronic affairs, obsessive viewing of pornography, prostitution, or dangerous sexual practices.

  2. Despite the negative consequences, addicts continually and increasingly engage in sexual behaviors even after attempts to stop. Examples include; relationship problems, interference with school or career, or exposure to sexually transmitted diseases.

  3. Continued ongoing desires and attempts to limit ones sexual behaviors.

  4. Individuals who engage in sexual behaviors as a primary coping mechanism.

  5. Just as tolerance develops within substance use, individuals with sexual addictions often feel the desire to increase the amount of sexual experience as their current level of activity is no longer satisfying.

  6. Excessive amounts of time spent obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from sexual behaviors.

WHAT CAUSES SEXUAL ADDICTION

Individuals often develop compulsive sexual behaviors as a means in which to cope with emotional pain, manage stress, or replace real intimacy.
WHY NOT “JUST STOP”

In comparison to other types of addiction, sexual addiction has many similar characteristics. Individuals develop a relationship with their ‘substance of choice’, that of which takes precedent over other aspects of their lives. When sexually aroused our bodies naturally release endorphins that resemble opiates in that they numb pain and produce a general sense of well-being. A dependence on this sexual high develops, often times individuals feel as though they need it to feel normal. As individuals struggle to control their behaviors they often times feel a sense of despair due to relentless failure. Individuals may gradually experience a decrease in self-esteem which ultimately results in them more frequently feeling a need to engage in their addictive behaviors.

WHAT ARE TREATMENT OPTIONS

  1. Individual Therapy
  2. Group Therapy
  3. Self-help Support Groups
  4. Aftercare Support
  5. Family Counseling Programs

Although no cure exists through the use of the above mentioned treatment options addiction can be effectively treated and managed. One of the first steps towards recovery, just as in other addictions, is breaking through denial and learning about ones addiction process. In addition, individuals must work towards establishing controlling their compulsions so they no longer consume ones life.


AUTHORS NOTE

If you or someone you are close with is suffering from addiction, no one has to tell you how tough it is – you’re living it. It is common to have the urge to fight through it alone; however, it may be that much harder. Through the help of professionals, as well as individuals who have gone through similar struggles your road to recovery may be less difficult.

You have the power to choose. Although one may not be able to change their circumstances, one can always change the way they relate to their circumstances. Although one may not be able to immediately change the frequency of urges, one can choose not to act on them.

For more information on addiction or to schedule an appointment please contact; scheduling@claritychi.com or call 312-754-9404.

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