Sexual Addiction – Real or Weak Willed?

Sexual addiction is a controversial subject. Some maintain that it is an excuse for the weak willed and over sexed to claim ‘ its not their fault’ whilst an increasing number of academics and psychologists are showing how this addiction of behaviour is as real as many of the less controversial and more accepted addictions.

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Sex addiction knows no boundaries when it comes to those that suffer with it. It is not defined by gender,culture, race, class or intellect. It is not a western invention or academic dalliance. 

So what is Sexual Addiction?

The National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity has defined sexual addiction as “engaging in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behaviour acted out despite increasing negative consequences to self and others.” In other words, a sex addict will continue to engage in certain sexual behaviours despite facing potential health risks, financial problems, shattered relationships or even arrest. For some sex addicts, behaviour does not progress beyond compulsive masturbation or the extensive use of pornography or phone or computer sex services. For others, addiction can involve illegal activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, child molestation or rape.The same compulsive behaviour that characterizes other addictions also is typical of sex addiction. But these other addictions, including drug, alcohol and gambling dependency, involve substances or activities with no necessary relationship to our survival. For example, we can live normal and happy lives without ever gambling, taking illicit drugs or drinking alcohol. Even the most genetically vulnerable person will function well without ever being exposed to, or provoked by, these addictive activities ABT logo black

Why some people, and not others, develop an addiction to sex is poorly understood. Possibly some biochemical abnormality or other brain changes increase risk. The fact that antidepressants and other psychotropic medications have proven effective in treating some people with sex addiction suggests that this might be the case.

Studies indicate that food, abused drugs and sexual interests share a common pathway within our brains’ survival and reward systems. This pathway leads into the area of the brain responsible for our higher thinking, rational thought and judgement.

Research also has found that sex addicts often come from dysfunctional families and are more likely than non-sex addicts to have been abused. One study found that 82 percent of sex addicts reported being sexually abused as children. Sex addicts often describe their parents as rigid, distant and uncaring. These families, including the addicts themselves, are more likely to be substance abusers. One study found that 80 percent of recovering sex addicts report some type of addiction in their families of origin. Have a look below at the questions and see how many, in all honesty you say yes to.  

  1. Do you keep secrets about your sexual behaviour or romantic fantasies from those important to you? Do you lead a double life? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  2. Have your desires driven you to have sex in places or with people you would not normally choose? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  3. Do you need greater variety, increased frequency, or more extreme sexual activities to achieve the same level of excitement or relief? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  4. Does your use of pornography occupy large amounts of time and/or jeopardize your significant relationships or employment? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  5. Do your relationships become distorted with sexual preoccupation? Does each new relationship have the same destructive pattern which prompted you to leave the last one? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  6. Do you frequently want to get away from a partner after having sex? Do you feel remorse, shame, or guilt after a sexual encounter? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  7. Have your sexual practices caused you legal problems? Could your sexual practices cause you legal problems? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  8. Does your pursuit of sex or sexual fantasy conflict with your moral standards or interfere with your personal spiritual journey? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  9. Do your sexual activities involve coercion, violence, or the threat of disease? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  10. Has your sexual behavior or pursuit of sexual relationships ever left you feeling hopeless, alienated from others, or suicidal? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  11. Does your preoccupation with sexual fantasies cause problems in any area of your life – even when you do not act out your fantasies? 
             Yes_____   No_____
  12. Do you compulsively avoid sexual activity due to fear of sex or intimacy? Does your sexual avoidance consume you mentally? 
             Yes_____   No_____

There  are organisations around the world through, science and the church that work with those that want to break this addiction. Increasingly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the route of choice as it deals directly with the behaviour and the thinking around it.  Having this addiction does not make you a bad person, or a pervert nor does it mean that you will go on to hurt anyone other than yourself . However over time like all addictions it will require more intense stimulation to satisfy its craving. When working with addicts of all kinds it sometimes helps to see the addict within the client as a separate being. That does not in any way disassociate the client from the responsibility of their behaviour but it is more to do with removing the negative feelings and thoughts that leads to depression and despair and allows the therapist and the client time and space to deal with the addiction at a safe non judgemental distance. We live in a complex world and often take our past with us into our behaviours and before we know it we are presented with an addiction that is effecting our whole being. There is nothing to be ashamed of and the recognition of a problem either with yourself or with a loved one is the first step towards a well trodden road to recovery. For more information on this or any other addiction problem contact ABT Addiction Behavior Therapies here

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