Sexual Addiction

What is Sex Addiction?

Sexual compulsivity or addiction involves a normally enjoyable sexual behavior, which becomes an obsession. Sex or thoughts of sex dominate thinking, making it difficult to manage sexual behavior or engage in healthy relationships. A person becomes addicted to the neuro-chemical changes that occur in the body during sexual behavior. Individuals may engage in distorted thinking, often justifying, rationalizing, and blaming others for their behavior. Lack of control over compulsive sexual behavior or thoughts can lead to serious consequences similar to chemical addiction. Shame, low self-esteem, depression, hopelessness, despair, anxiety, moral conflict, and fear of abandonment often occur as the result of sexual compulsivity. For both a clinical and cultural view of this issue, read the article Sex Addiction by-Alan Yorker.

Although the definitions of sexual addiction vary, a person in need of a sexual addiction treatment center may exhibit some of the following sexual behaviors:

  • Internet pornography
  • Compulsive masturbation
  • Multiple affairs or partners
  • Anonymous sex
  • Use of prostitutes/massage parlors
  • High-risk sex
  • Sexual anorexia
  • Cyber/phone sex

In addition, behaviors of those with sexual compulsivity or addiction include using sexual behavior to avoid feelings of anxiety, loneliness, anger, self-hatred, as well as joy, or using sex to feel validated and complete. Sexual compulsives may seek people who are unavailable or develop unhealthy dependency relationships. Generally, little satisfaction is gained from the sexual activity, and no emotional bond is formed with his or her partners.

A sexual addiction treatment center could help an individual overcome this type of addiction. Since chemical addiction and sexual compulsivity/addiction are closely linked, the likelihood of relapse increases dramatically if both issues are not addressed during the treatment process, making dual addiction treatment essential. Talbott Recovery’s Dual Addiction Treatment Program meets the treatment needs of this unique population.

Helpful Resources

  • Patrick Carnes et al.,
    • In the Shadows of the Net: Breaking Free from Compulsive Online Sexual Behavior (2007)
    • The Betrayal Bond (1997)
    • Don’t Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction (1992)
    • Sexual Anorexia: Overcoming Sexual Self Hatred (1992)
    • Out of the Shadows: Understanding Sexual Addiction (2001)
  • Mark R. Laaser et al., Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction (2004)
  • American Assoc. for Marriage and Family Therapy, Family Therapy Magazine, Sexual Compulsivity Issue, Jan./Feb. 2010
  • Robert Weiss, Cruise Control: Understanding Sex Addiction in Gay Men (2005)
  • Kelly McDaniel, Ready to Heal, (2008)
  • Charlotte S. Kasl, Women, Sex and Addiction (1990)

Learn more about our sexual addiction treatment center by visiting our dual addiction treatment program page.

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