Sex addiction can destroy lives just as much as any other addiction. It is a serious “Addiction” and should be treated in the same manner as drug addiction.
What is Sexual Addiction?
Sexual addiction is a compulsive and escalating pattern of sexual behavior acted out despite negative consequences. Signs of sexual addiction include indulgence in pornography, multiple anonymous partners, cyber sex or phone sex, or any unsafe sexual activity. Addicts may suffer emotional, physical, financial and even legal harm due to their addiction. Sexual addiction can destroy relationships.
Sexual addiction progresses in the same manner as alcohol and drug addictions. Small actions and activities cease to satisfy a need, so more and more stimulation is needed. An “innocent peek” at an internet porn site can turn into an obsession, which separates you from your partner and interferes with your career, your health, or your education.
Sometimes other influences can affect people as well. Sexual Abuse classes deal with society’s horrible statistics: 1 in 5 males have been sexually abused; and 1 in 4 females have been raped. This is an important factor in many people’s sobriety, and it can be a traumatic influence on abnormal sexual behavior going forward.
Michelle, I know someone that has this addiction. It literally has destroyed many if not all of his relationships. It really does not matter how much he loves that person, his addiction keeps him from being faithful. They may not understand why you would get angry at, “Just an Email.”, or the fact that he may not want to be intimate with you. This will work heavy on someone’s self-esteem. They tend to give many excuses, and blame you, but it is really their addiction talking. Addicts make everything about them, blame others, deflect the situation, or simply minimize it. All of this is very hurtful to the partner and can be as devastating as using drugs or alcohol. As with any other addiction, if you do not get the proper help, and continued treatment, (support groups) you can and most likely will relapse.
What you should look for when seeking treatment. Unfortunately the masses do not see sexual addiction as being a serious addiction, so there are not as many facilities in North East Ohio.
Here are some questions you should ask when looking for a good sex addiction treatment program:
- What percentage of the therapy program will be focused on sexual addiction and compulsiveness?
- What are the groups that address these issues?
- What is the staff’s experience facilitating the groups or program for sexual addiction and compulsiveness?
- Is the program based on a 12-step philosophy, and are there appropriate 12-step meetings to attend while in treatment?
In addition, look for these components in a treatment program:
- A separate group that allows couples to work on the more intimate issues of their relationship
- Education about sexual addiction and compulsiveness that clarifies misconceptions about this highly misunderstood set of behaviors
- A disclosure process facilitated by trained staff who understand the vulnerability of each family member and make appropriate decisions about which family members need to hear what information about the specific symptoms and behaviors. This is essential in developing a therapeutic relationship between the patient and family.
- Time for the family members or spouses to receive support in processing and debriefing information that the individual discloses during treatment
- A focus on the health risks involved for both partners and how to address these in a continuing care plan
Unlike drug or alcohol treatment, the goal of sexual addiction treatment is not lifelong abstinence, but rather a termination of compulsive, unhealthy sexual behavior. Since it is very difficult for a sex addict to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy sex, programs usually encourage abstinence from any sexual behavior during the first phase of treatment. Many programs suggest a 60- to 90-day period of self-imposed abstinence. This enables you, along with the treatment team, to understand the emotional cues and circumstances that trigger sexual thought and compulsive sexual behavior.