As harmful to a person’s mental and physical health as any chemical or alcohol addiction, sexual addiction wille eventually destroy family relationships, marriages and lifelong friendships unless recognized and successfully treated. Addiction to sex is also frequently co-morbid with drug and/or alcohol addiction and presents an array of complex and deep-seated psychological issues requiring intensive cognitive behavioral counseling with trained therapists.
Signs of Sexual Addiction
Certain behaviorial patterns exist in the life of someone who may be addicted to sex. These include:
Preoccupation with sexual fantasies and masturbation to the point of alienating family and friends
Engaging in frequent and inappropriate seductive behavior
Repeated infections with STDs, such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis
Engaging in voyeurism to feel sexually aroused (viewing pornography, secretly videotaping someone in the act of having sex)
Participating in simultaneous multiple sexual relationships without regard for partners’ feelings
Frequent sexual activity involving anonymous partners
Spending large amounts of money for sex (prostitutes, phone sex) or trading drugs for sex
People who are suffering from sexual addiction experience problems remaining employed because they feel compelled to pursue sexually addictive behaviors that preclude any other responsibilities. Additionally, many sex addicts possess criminal records due to repeated arrests for solicitation, indecent exposure or drug possession, which makes it harder for them to find jobs. As a result, sexual addicts often find themselves homeless, ostracized by family members and living on the fringes of society.
Treating sexual addiction involves methods similar to other addiction recovery programs. Addicts will need to realize the addiction exists, participate in support groups comprised of other sexual addicts, regularly attend counseling sessions with a professional addiction therapist and take antidepressants to help relieve the depression, anxiety and overwhelming compulsion to seek sexual attention and gratification. Couples who have been affected by one member developing a sex addiction should attend counseling sessions together in order to re-establish and strengthen the relationship.
Residential treatment centers specializing in sexual addiction are also available for those who may need to participate in a more structured environment. Intense therapy is often required to determine the underlying cause of the sexual addiction so that the person affected can fully comprehend and learn to cope with these self-destructive impulses.