Addiction can come in many forms and it does not always have to do with substance abuse. Anytime a person compulsively pursues something in spite of the negative consequences it is having on their life it can qualify as an addiction. Sex is a natural part of dating, marriage and relationships but like anything else, it can be taken to the extreme and cause problems for people that lose control.
When someone becomes addicted to sex they will be consumed by their pursuit of it without being able to abstain, moderate or control their behavior. Like any other addiction, it is a progressive disease that becomes more problematic as time passes and behavior intensifies. Professional counseling and other treatment methods are usually necessary for a person to fully recover from sex addiction. There are plenty of options to talk to a counselor and get help if you are suffering from this problem.
Common Sex Addiction Signs
Addiction can be quite a complex problem and it can be hard to tell when someone has developed an unhealthy and compulsive habit. If you are worried that you or someone you love might have sex addiction there are certain signs and symptoms that can help indicate that they might need help. Sex addiction is characterized by the inability to control the impulses to engage in sexual acts. This can mean that the person has sex more frequently and with more partners than they intend to. They might also need to engage in sexual behaviors more often and for a longer period of time as their addiction progresses. People with sex addiction also have compulsive problems with activities related to sex such excessive use of porn, cybersex, or voyeurism. They might spend excessive amounts of time thinking about, desiring and obsessing over sex. Eventually, as with any addiction, their behavior will start to interfere with daily responsibilities such as work, school or family obligations.
Sex Addiction Facts
Most people are not very familiar with sex addiction and don’t understand what causes the behavior to occur. While there are many different factors that can lead to someone pursuing sex compulsively, one of the physical reasons is that sex (like most pleasurable activities) releases dopamine in the brain. Some people are more inclined to get addicted to the rush of dopamine that can occur from sex or other things like drugs, food or gambling. Sex addiction itself is often associated with different mental health issues. People with bipolar disorder often engage in risky sexual behavior during a manic episode and those with borderline personality disorder frequently have unsafe sex as part of a pattern of self-harm. There are a number of cases where people with sex addiction are victims of childhood sexual abuse and they repeat sexual behavior as an attempt to gain control over their early trauma.
Help from Sex Addiction Counseling
Even though sex addiction can involve a lot of guilt and shame over their behavior, most addicts find it cathartic to talk with a counselor about what they have been going through. Before you go into counseling it is important to find a therapist that has plenty of education, experience and knowledge about sex addiction so that they understand your situation. A more general therapist or counselor may not have the skills necessary to deal with sex addiction so make sure to research their areas of expertise before beginning your sessions. Counselors can use different types of therapies but methods like cognitive behavioral therapy can be very helpful for this type of addiction. Counselors might also explore your personal history and address any childhood trauma, abuse or symptoms of mental illness. Talking about your behavior and past problems will allow you to find ways to resolve issues with the help of a professional.
How to Quit Porn Addiction
Some people struggle with specific aspects of sex addiction such as the compulsive need to view adult material. Porn addiction can either be a component of sex addiction or its own individual problem that interferes with daily life. People often use porn as a way to numb their feelings and escape from problems that are affecting them in real life. In order to quit porn addiction you should find help from a counselor and take steps to minimize the amount of time you spend viewing adult images. Some people may be able to quit cold turkey but others might have to gradually find ways to reduce the habit. While sex is a natural and necessary part of life, porn is something that is best avoided if it is causing problems in your life. Some helpful skills are learning to identify your triggers and finding substitute activities that are more productive and allow to you cope with your emotions in a healthier way.
Help from Porn Addiction Treatment
If you find it too difficult to quit viewing porn on your own or you are making very little progress then you might benefit from treatment. There are options for treatment programs available for people who have very severe addictions and need a more strict approach. Entering treatment can make it easier to completely abstain from porn use and begin the process of adjusting to abstinence. While in a treatment program, addicts will have no access to the type of websites or other materials that they normally are addicted to. They can benefit from daily counseling, group meetings and discussions that are all designed to educate patients about their addiction and teach them strategies to abstain. Addicts can also attend twelve step meetings which can be an ongoing type of therapy that they continue even after they complete treatment. Having enough support and professional help is crucial in quitting any addiction.
Quit Porn Addiction and Other Behaviors
Often people who have issues with compulsive sexual behaviors do not simply suffer from one isolated problem. Many people have both a porn addiction and a sex addiction so that they also engage in frequent sexual activity as part of their illness. It can be complicated to treat multiple problems at once especially because the two have very different treatment approaches. People with porn addiction are typically asked to abstain from any use while with sex addiction patients in treatment usually must commit to a contract with themselves. People with sex addiction cannot completely eliminate sex from their lives but they must commit to avoiding problematic sexual behaviors and choose to engage in non-problematic behaviors moderately and appropriately. This agreement to change their behavior is known as their “sexual sobriety contract” and it is something they must adhere to while in treatment and continue to follow once they return home.
Drug Addict Porn Recovery
Certain types of addiction can either be co-occurring meaning that there are two problems present in one individual or some addictions can become substitutes for another. This is why substance abuse and sex or porn addiction can become linked because when an individual has the tendency to become addicted they might suffer from multiple addictions. People with drug addictions may also struggle with compulsive sexual behavior and the two problems become intertwined with one behavior reinforcing the other. In other cases, an addict in recovery might struggle so much to stay sober from drugs that they end up developing another addiction such as issues with porn or sex as a kind of substitute. It is a common problem for people in recovery to trade one addiction with another because they find it difficult to combat their addictive tendencies. People with co-occurring addictions will need to receive treatment for both issues simultaneously.
Love Addiction Treatment
People who struggle with sex addiction may not have relationships or love in mind when they are engaging in compulsive behavior. However, another type of problem known as love addiction involves an obsession with the rush of meeting someone new and the feeling of falling in love. People with love addiction focus on the early stages of a relationship and the excitement of infatuation, using the surge of neurochemicals they feel from love as way to escape their problems. Love addiction can cause people to lose control over their romantic fantasies as they become preoccupied to the point of obsession.
A love addict might also have trouble staying in long-term relationships and end up serial dating because they lose excitement about their partner. They might even be searching for another partner while in the midst of a relationship. With treatment people with love addiction can begin to understand the causes of their problem and find other ways to handle their emotional issues. Therapy will offer them a chance to examine their behavior and find ways to stay in relationships so that they can have more intimate bonds with their partner instead of constantly pursuing romantic fantasies.
Entering Sex Addiction Rehab
There are many different subcategories when it comes to sex addiction but a good treatment center will be able to address any problem that an addict is going through. There are plenty of rehab facilities that offer residential treatment for people that are suffering from different kinds of sex addiction. If you are looking for a treatment center then you should consider calling and visiting a few different options to make sure that they offer the type of amenities and services that you need to address your personal issues. Doing some research prior to entering treatment can help you ensure that you are getting the kind of care you need in a place where you feel comfortable.
Every rehab has its own approach and a unique list of activities and therapies that they believe are optimal for treatment. The most important thing is that you feel the staff members are qualified and experienced and you are willing to comply with the facility’s rules and guidelines for recovery. Look into each staff member’s certification and education so that you can make sure they have knowledge and experience in treating people with sex addiction. Although it can be similar to other addictions in certain respects, sex addiction is a unique problem that requires expertise and training to resolve.
Improving Mental Health at Sex Addiction Treatment Centers
Because there is not as much of an element of physical or chemical dependency as there is with drug abuse, much of the focus of treatment for sex addiction is on mental health and behavior. The underlying cause of sex addiction in most cases is psychological stress either from past trauma or issues like depression and anxiety. The goal in rehab is to improve some of the symptoms of any underlying mental health issues and help patients find healthier ways to cope with their emotional stress. People with various kinds of sex addictions also need to learn how to develop healthy relationships and improve their intimacy skills. They may have issues that are preventing them from being in a loving, monogamous and long-term relationship. They instead seek short term or temporary connections with people that satisfy a need to escape. In therapy they can learn how to communicate more effectively with people and start to develop healthy sexuality.
Managing Symptoms after Leaving Treatment
It is not realistic or necessarily healthy for people with sex addictions to remain abstinent for the rest of their lives. Even if they spend a period of time abstaining from sex, eventually they will need to return to moderate and appropriate sexual behavior. After leaving treatment, former patients will need to continue to abide by their decisions regarding their “sexual sobriety”. That includes having healthier, more intimate relationships and being cautious about sexual activity. In order to stay on track it can be helpful for patients to continue attending twelve step groups or stay in follow up treatment so that they are less likely to relapse. It can take plenty of time and hard work to recover from an addiction, not matter what the issue may be. Spending enough time in treatment and staying vigilant after finishing a program can help you stay focused on your goals.