Detecting Sex Addiction
In the United States alone, there are millions of people suffering from a sexual addiction. Sexual compulsivity is found in many individuals today. Although there is not one specific factor that can be pinpointed to cause sexual addiction, there are many psychological, biological, and social factors that have been found to contribute to and enable this addiction.
If you or a loved one is facing issues related to sexual addiction such as; risky sexual behaviors, hypersexual behaviors involving the internet or other social outlets, infidelity, the compulsive tendency to avoid intimacy, and numerous other compulsive sexual behaviors, then you or your loved one may be suffering with sexual addiction and/or compulsion. The problems associated with these negative patterns can cause a great deal of stress and emotional turmoil.
The Internet is an extraordinary portal that puts countless amounts of information and content in anyone’s hands. With a click of a button, the world is at your fingertips. Unfortunately, this open access to all forms of content that the internet has afforded us has led to increases in compulsive behavior and abuse. This is especially true of internet pornography addiction. Internet pornography addiction falls under the category of behavioral addiction due to repeated use and viewership of cyber pornographic material. Often times, this leads to other compulsions and addictions such as cyber-sex addiction. This compulsive sexual behavior often leads to negative social, physical, financial and personal situations. An addiction to internet pornography is most commonly correlated directly to the issue of sex addiction in general. Because of this, treatment often falls under the overarching issue of sex addiction where addiction to pornography is then dealt with directly through therapy.
Harmful Consequences of Sex Addiction
The significance of sex addiction is often minimized in modern media. Some doubt whether it’s even an actual addiction. The reality of the matter is – as far as the brain is concerned – it’s a real addiction, and it appears to affect the brain in the same way that substance abuse does. Whether addicted to a substance, an action, a feeling or something else entirely, addiction works in the same way by causing a sort of compulsion in the addict that often leads to risky behavior so that they can satisfy the addiction.
With sex addiction, this risky behavior comes in the form of unsafe practices and mental distress that is often associated with these behaviors.
The primary fears when dealing with the consequences of sex addiction are that of physical health. Sexually transmitted diseases or infections are often brought on by risky sexual behavior such as an increase in the number of exposure opportunities, sex without condoms, and a general lack of concern with the above as it pertains to satisfying sexual cravings. Lack of judgment and/or discretion amongst sex addicts is often reported, and this leads to higher instances of risky behavior.
Self-Esteem and Self-Worth
Many sex addicts report diminished feelings of self-worth, and self-esteem issues stemming from their addictions. In his breakthrough study on sex addiction, researcher Patrick Carnes revealed that 97 percent of those surveyed reported that their sexual activity led to a loss of self-esteem.
Additional findings were:
- 96% had strong feelings of isolation and loneliness
- 94% experienced feelings of hopelessness and despair
- 91% acted against previously held values or beliefs
- 90% felt like two people (disassociation)
Lack of Intimacy
Respondents to the above-mentioned Carnes’ survey were typically unable to form close friendships and had issues with personal or sexual intimacy. Feelings of shame and lack of self-esteem were the major contributors to this problem. Most reported feeling that they would be judged or rejected by others if they knew that they were really like, or found out about the addiction. This led to addicts finding ways to turn potential friends or partners away without ever being able to accept the bond that often accompanies sexual activity.
Inability to Foster Healthy Relationships
Despite a large number of sexual connections, most respondents felt lonely or the sense that they were lying to friends and family by living two lives. One in which they appeared to be normal and healthy and the other fostered their addiction but was typically withheld from others. Problems with infidelity in romantic relationships often further facilitated these feelings.
Some sex addicts have natural and consensual sex with others, albeit at higher than societal average rates. Others become Paraphilic, which – according to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) – is the experience of extreme sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations or individuals. Paraphilia often has its own sub-classifications that are risky or illegal in their own right, such as voyeurism, exhibitionism, or even pedophilia. Some sex addicts move on to more extreme compulsions after typical sexual experiences no longer excite them, which could lead to a host of legal ramifications.
According to a National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity finding, 58-percent of sex addicts have engaged in illegal sexual behavior, which is most commonly tied to prostitution.
The same findings from the National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity report that 83-percent of sex addicts also have concurrent addictions, such as alcoholism, eating disorders, or compulsive gambling.
Sex addiction is a legitimate condition, and it needs to be treated like one. Much like drug or alcohol addictions, sex addicts undergo immense physical and emotional duress in attempting to satisfy their addictions. Treatment of this or any other addiction is best handled by professionals with experience in recognizing and treating problem behavior. At Prescott House, our goal is to assist men who enter our program with recognizing the difference between safe and risky sexual behavior, as well as equip them with the tools they need in order to begin to live their lives free from the grips of sex addiction and compulsion.
Confronting the Behavior
Many times, a loved one of an individual suffering from sexual addiction may question their place and ability to step in, especially with such a highly personal topic. However, addiction doesn’t just affect the addict, it affects surrounding family and friends. Expressing your concern to the individual may be the first step to their acknowledgment of their addiction and it can lead to positive steps towards seeking the help that they need.
If you or someone close to you is suffering from sexual addiction and/or a sexual compulsion, then seeking help and knowledge about addiction is your next step towards treatment. The Prescott House staff can assist with any questions you might have regarding recovery from sexual addiction.
Overcoming a Sex & Porn Addiction
We proudly utilize Dr. Carnes’ Thirty-Task Model to help treat men struggling with sexually compulsive behavior. We operate in a therapeutic environment that allows our members to manage their addiction recovery while utilizing Self-esteem Building for confidence, and an overall sense of self-control as they re-enter the stream of life.
We employ Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSATs) that have been trained by Trauma and Addiction Professionals. We support 12-step programs for our clients and stress the importance of meeting attendance in the community.
What sets Prescott House far ahead of many other leading programs and facilities is our effective focus on a combination of individual therapy, group therapy, and structured community re-integration. Therapeutic modalities used at the Prescott House include evidence-based techniques such as Motivational Interviewing, Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Psychodrama Therapies.