Sex Addiction & Treatment
Sex addicts have an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. Sex and thinking about sex often control an addicts thinking and their lives.
Sex addicts like other addicts (alcohol, drugs, etc.) usually deny they have a problem. At the same time, they rationalize and justify their behavior while blaming others for problems in their lives.
In general, sex addicts get small satisfaction from sexual activity. They do not form emotional bonds with their partners. And the craving for sex becomes their life's priority above and to the detriment of family, friends and work.
Sex addiction treatment can help addicts much like alcohol addiction treatment can help alcoholics. But the field of sex addiction treatment is still relatively new compared to other addictions.
Before we look at sex addiction treatment, we’ll show you how to determine if you have a problem.
Causes of Sexual Addiction
No definitive cause is known, but research shows several high correlations between abuse in childhood and sexual addiction in the adult years. Sex addicts have reported experiencing the following:
- Physical abuse (71%)
- Emotional abuse (97%)
- Sexual abuse (83%)
Sex Addict Behaviors
No one behavior defines a sex addict, but there are common characteristics exhibited by addicts:
- Compulsive masturbation
- Compulsive hetero and homosexual relationships
- Multiple affairs
- Phone or cybersex
- Unsafe sex
- Anonymous partners
- Sexual harassment
- Voyeurism (watching others) and/or stalking
Online Tests for Sexual Addiction
In addition to the above characteristics and behavior, these online tests you can take to determine whether you have sexually compulsive behavior. And whether you may need sex addiction treatment. These tests can be found at sexhelp.com.
The Sexual Addiction Risk Assessment Test (SARA) is an 88-question assessment to help you understand your behaviors. The personalized report will give you suggestions on treatment or other actions to take.
The Sexual Addiction Screening Test (SAST) helps to assess the presence of sexual addiction.
The Betrayal Bond Test is a series of Yes/No “statements which describe traumatic bonding in which a person bonds on the basis of betrayal.”
The Internet Sex Screening Test (ISST) assesses your Internet sex behavior. This test is research for Duquesne University, and it will not tell you if you have a problem. But the questions themselves can give you a good idea of sexually compulsive behavior.
Consequences of Sexual Addiction
It may not have happened yet, but at some point, your sexual addiction will get you into trouble. That’s often what it takes for addicts to address their addiction. And that’s why getting sex addiction treatment is so important. Here are a few of the risks of sexual addiction:
- Marital problems
- Risk of STD or HIV
- Losing your right to be with children
- Career problems
- Arrest (prostitution, public indecency, etc.)
Treating Sexual Addiction
If you’ve admitted you have a sexual addiction problem that is the first step. For some, this may not come until they have experienced a life-changing event such as a divorce, arrest, or health issue.
The big difference between treatment for other addictions (e.g. alcohol, drug, gambling) and sexual addiction is that sex addicts must are not giving up something (i.e. sex). They are learning to have healthy sex lives again.
Here are some sex addiction treatment options:
To begin with, you may want to visit a psychiatrist who specializes in sexual addiction. Many addicts in general have what’s known as a dual diagnosis. A Dual diagnosis is having an addiction and a mental disorder--depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, personality disorders—at the same time. Getting treatment for both is crucial for success as one affects the other and vice versa.
For disorders such as depression or anxiety, a doctor may prescribe a combination of drugs such as Paxil, Prozac, Xanax, etc.
Treatment consists of controlling the behavior and developing ways to have a healthy sex life. A Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) is one way to seek treatment. The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH) www.sash.net is a great resource for finding sexual therapists and sexual addiction treatment centers.
In sexual addiction treatment centers, you’ll find inpatient and outpatient therapy as well as weekend classes. These programs also typically offer family counseling and educational workshops for addicts and their families.
The self-help route through support groups and 12-step programs are also options.
Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA) is modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous and their 12-step program. There are no fees or dues. Here is their primary message:
“Despite many failed promises to ourselves and attempts to change, we discovered that we were unable to stop acting out sexually by ourselves. Many of us came to this realization when we started attending SAA meetings. In that setting we heard stories similar to ours and realized that recovery from our problem was possible.”
Sexual Compulsives Anonymous is another 12-step, free fellowship of sex addicts who share their stories and try to beat their addictions.
If you’re not comfortable sharing your experiences in person, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA) offers online chat and phone meetings.
Sex addiction treatment takes many forms as personal or as anonymous as you want. The most important thing is to start some kind of treatment before the addiction harms your life or the lives of those you love. Start by search recoverycorps.org’s database for a sex addiction treatment center near you.