The recent sex scandal in Hollywood has brought the topic of sex addiction to the fore with many of those found in the midst of these scandals claiming to be affected by sex addiction. However, although sex addiction is a very real illness for many people, there are some who view the notion of being addicted to sex with scepticism. This probably explains why sex addiction is often kept under wraps for as long as possible by those who are genuinely affected.
Although sex addiction has not been recognised as a psychiatric disorder yet, there is no denying the fact that this is an illness that affects the lives of so many individuals across the UK. As addiction is actually classed as a pattern of behaviour that causes negative consequences to the lives of those affected, it is easy to see how anything can be addictive, including sex. Nevertheless, because of the stigma attached to it, many people are reluctant to reach out for help.
There are so many reasons sex addiction must be treated, but probably the main one being that failure to get help could result in the condition worsening. Like all addictions, a sex addiction will progress if left untreated and this could end up destroying the life of the individual as well as the lives of those closest to him or her.
Recognising a Sex Addiction
One of the biggest problems with sex addiction is the fact that it carries so much shame and stigma. It is often seen as something that is used as an excuse for what some might class as bad behaviour. For example, those who are caught having extra-marital affairs might blame their behaviour on a sex addiction. Or those who have a high sex drive and enjoy visiting prostitutes might also say they are addicted to sex.
Nonetheless, for some people, sex is an addiction that consumes their life. It takes over to the point that the person is in danger of losing everything held dear. It is important that those affected are able to recognise the signs in themselves. The fact that you are here now indicates that you may be worried that your sexual behaviour is something to be concerned about. If so, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you hiding elements of your sexual behaviour or keeping fantasies to yourself because you do not believe your partner would understand?
- Is your sexual behaviour getting in the way of your everyday life?
- Are you preoccupied with sex – do you think about it constantly when you are doing other things?
- Do you feel guilty or ashamed about fulfilling your sexual desires?
- Are you unable to have a normal healthy relationship with your partner because of your sexual behaviour?
- Do you regularly watch pornography for longer than you intended?
- Is your use of pornography preventing you from getting enough sleep or eating properly?
If you have answered yes to one or two of the above questions, you might be in danger of allowing your sexual behaviour or desires to spiral out of control. Answering yes to more than that suggests you already have a problem and could benefit from speaking to someone.
Types of Sex Addiction
Sex addiction can take many forms and the way in which it affects people will differ. What must be noted though is that simply liking sex or having a high sex drive does not make a person a sex addict. Sex is a problem when it begins to interfere with normal everyday living or if it affects the ability to form healthy relationships with others.
Sexual activities that can become addictive include:
- online or phone sex
- visiting prostitutes
- risky sexual encounters
- extra-marital affairs.
Those with a sex addiction may allow their sexual behaviours to spiral out of control. While enjoying the above activities is not a problem for most, for others they could become a destructive force. If you are allowing your sexual activities to get in the way of daily life, you more than likely need help.
If you believe that you have little or no control over your sexual behaviour, and if this behaviour is likely to result in harm for yourself or others yet you continue anyway, it is important that you seek help as soon as possible.
Consequences of a Sex Addiction
There are many reasons sex addiction can be dangerous. A sex addiction could not only have a deep and lasting emotional impact on the life of the individual, but it can also be harmful for those closest to the addict, particularly spouses and partners, who tend to find this type of addiction to be the most devastating of all.
Those who become preoccupied with sex will inevitably suffer socially. Relationships with others tend to suffer when one person is putting in no effort because they are preoccupied with something else. Sex addicts often neglect responsibilities or avoid spending time with those who do not form a part of their sexual fantasies or desires.
Sex addicts can also risk their health, depending on the type of sexual behaviours they engage in. Those who are addicted to frequent sexual encounters without using protection could be risking various sexual health problems. The risk of sexually transmitted diseases is present as is the risk of an unplanned pregnancy.
For those who engage in watching online pornography, having cyber or phone sex, or visiting prostitutes, there is also financial implications. As the illness progresses, the sexual desires tend to become stronger and there is a need to increase activity, which can often lead to financial difficulties for the individual and his or her family members.
In some cases, sex addicts will become so preoccupied with their sexual desires and activities that they will frequently skip work, which could in turn see them losing their job. This will inevitably result in even more financial problems.
As mentioned in the above paragraphs, sex addiction not only causes devastating problems for the individual, but it is also a huge problem for partners and spouses. Discovering that a spouse or partner has been engaging in secret sexual behaviours usually feels like a massive betrayal.
However, the impact of a partner or spouse’s sex addiction tends to depend on several factors. For example, the betrayal will be felt more strongly (for the most part) when the addiction involves sex with other people than it would if it involved excessive use of pornography or masturbation.
Other factors also play a role such as whether the couple have children and whether the addiction has become serious enough to cause harm to others. What often occurs on discovery of a partner’s sex addiction is that the spouse will suffer low self-esteem. He or she may feel that they are not good enough or desirable and that they are somehow to blame for the addiction. In some cases, this can lead to an irreversible breakdown of the relationship.
Why Sex Addiction Must be Treated
The impact of any addiction can be devastating for so many people. With a sex addiction, the damage is often contained to the individual and his or her partner. With so much stigma attached to this illness, and with it often being seen as an excuse for unacceptable or inappropriate sexual behaviour, there is a reluctance for those affected to seek help.
Nevertheless, there are numerous reasons sex addiction must be recognised, accepted, and treated. Failure to accept that the problem exists will mean that you and your partner are unable to move forward and get your relationship back on track.
The reality is that a marriage can survive a sex addiction, provided the right programme of treatment is accessed. The good news is that Recovery Lighthouse can help when it comes to overcoming a sex addiction.
You do not have to worry about being judged by anyone here. We treat many different addictions and we understand how you are feeling right now. You should know that you have nothing to be ashamed of. A sex addiction is not a lifestyle choice and you should also be aware that you have no control over your sexual urges.
As with addictions to chemical substances such as alcohol or drugs, your brain has likely been altered by your addiction. This means that even when you know that engaging in certain sexual behaviours could result in harm for yourself or someone you love, you are powerless to resist.
Nonetheless, just as your brain has been altered by your addiction, it can be altered in reverse with therapy. It is possible to re-wire your brain with the right programme of treatment – one that has been designed around your needs.
What is Sex Addiction Therapy Like?
Here at Recovery Lighthouse, we have a team of fully trained professionals with expertise in all types of addiction. You can expect a programme of care that has been created with you in mind when you access a programme of care with us.
The aim of the treatment programme is to help you identify the cause of your addictive behaviour. This will take place using various therapies such as individual counselling, group therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.
We want to help you develop a healthy attitude to sex and to help you rebuild your relationships with loved ones. It is important that you understand what led you to this point in the first place and that you can learn positive and healthy ways to deal with your feelings and thoughts going forward. Marriage counselling and family therapy may also form a part of your treatment.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can overcome your sex addiction, please do not hesitate to contact Recovery Lighthouse today. We are here to answer any queries you may have and to provide information and advice on the recovery process. If you are ready to get started on a treatment programme, we can also help. Call today to find out more about who we are and what we do.