Sex Addiction

Sex addiction progresses, gets out of control, becomes a compulsion and ultimately, takes over the addicts life.  It is not a moral issue, has nothing to do with willpower and is not about having fun or behaving badly.  This may be difficult to believe, but sex addiction is not about sex.  It is about fantasy, shame, secrets, trauma and medicating emotions.  The addiction escalates in intensity and most addicts experience profound shame, anxiety and despair around their behavior.  Like any other addiction, the sex addict experiences an increase in tolerance, attempts to control their behaviors, experiences withdrawal when unable to act out sexually and continues to act out despite negative consequences.

Sex addiction flourishes in secrecy and most addicts will go to any length to protect their double life.  As a result, many struggle alone and in silence, too ashamed to seek help; not knowing if help is available or even if they can be helped. Many believe they are beyond redemption.  The sex addict feels utterly alone and lives in a self-imposed prison of which they are their own tormentor.  The pain, guilt, fear and shame are so excruciating and overwhelming the only thing the sex addict can do is to start the addiction cycle over again and begin to fantasize about the next opportunity to act out.

Ironically, sex addicts usually find very little satisfaction in their sexual activities.  They are in a “trance”, in a “bubble” or on “auto-pilot”.  Spouses, children, work, friends, health and finances all take a back seat to their addiction.  Sex has become their false God and the most important thing in their lives.  Even though, most sex addicts understand that they have lost the ability to control their behavior, the fear of being found out or having to stop is so terrifying, that they will go to any length to protect that which is destroying their lives.

Sex addicts are hesitant to discuss their sexual feelings and experiences with anyone. Many carry a heavy burden of shame along with the painful memories of unresolved sexual experiences or uncontrolled and compulsive sexual behaviors. It is essential, therefore, that the sex addict has a safe and confidential healing environment to address their issues.  A place where they can be open, honest and feel supported while being kept accountable for their behaviors. Sexuality can be a positive and self-enhancing force and inspire us to form healthier relationships and live fuller lives. Sex addiction can be treated with help and sex can, once again, become enjoyable, meaningful and fulfilling. Research suggests that individual and group therapy with a therapist familiar with the treatment of sex addiction in conjunction with 12-step support provides the best opportunity for recovery.

Seth A. Weinstein, LPC

Licensed Professional Counselor
Specializing in Addictions, Trauma and Codependency