What is sexual addiction, and how can it be treated?
Unfortunately, addictions can come in a range of masks; drugs, alcohol, tobacco and sex. While the first three of these are generally considered to be the most damaging, the truth is that sexual addiction can be just as harmful. Sexual addiction is one of a number of addictive behaviours that we can experience, and is defined as any sexual behaviour that is out of control. A sexual addiction can manifest itself in a number of ways, including uncontrollable urges to masturbate, phone chat lines, visit prostitutes or watch pornography. A sexual addiction is not the same as simply having a high sex drive; while a high sex drive can be caused by hormones or other factors, an addiction is a behaviour or set of behaviours that the sufferer would like to end, but is unable to do so even when their behaviour has a negative consequence on them or the people around them.
The often risky behaviour displayed by those with a sexual addiction can be harmful, not just to the sufferer, but to those they are closest to. It is a condition that hurts partners and destroys lives, which is why therapy is often the solution.
Sexual addiction therapy is similar to the therapy undergone by those being treated for addictions to substances such as drugs and alcohol. It begins by identifying the underlying cause of the addiction, which could have been triggered as a result of abuse or another traumatic incident, or because of an underlying condition such as anxiety or depression. Once the reason for the behaviour has been identified, the targeted therapy helps individuals to recognise their addictive behaviour, and to learn how to change this behaviour. As with any addiction, if sexual addiction is not treated, it can lead to huge problems: there is no denying just how important therapy is in cases such as these.
Should I stay or should I go?
Many partners of addicts have told me they feel bad about themselves for staying in the relationship because of the betrayal they’ve experienced. They imagine that the people who know their past judge them to be stupid for staying with the person who’s caused them so much pain. I often counter this thinking, explaining that leaving may seem quick and easy because they can pretend they’re okay and the problem has disappeared. However, if you leave your relationship, you’ll be stuck with your pain and sorrow without the person you loved to help you sort it out. Why is this true? Because even though it feels as if your pain comes from your partner, it’s actually coming from inside you.”
― Alexandra Katehakis, Erotic Intelligence: Igniting Hot, Healthy Sex While in Recovery from Sex Addiction
If you feel you may have a sexual addiction, please make contact. Take the first step with someone who will understand your condition, respect your feelings, and help find the solution you deserve. I will respond promptly and in the strictest confidence.