Most people struggle with the whole concept of a sex addiction; indeed, there are still those that believe it is just an excuse for extra-marital affairs. Indeed, it does seem to be the case that celebrities who have been caught cheating on a partner will then check into a clinic to be treated for a sex addiction. But the reality is that sex addiction is a very real illness and one that affects many people all over the world.
The fact that it is a real problem has not stopped the topic of sex addiction is one that is regularly the focus of comedy routines though. But for those affected, sex addiction is nothing to joke about. Just as drugs or alcohol can become addictive, so too can sexual activity, and experts believe that this is because the act of sex can stimulate the same areas of the brain that certain mood-altering chemicals do.
While engaging in sexual activities such as watching pornography, masturbating, and visiting prostitutes is not harmful in and of itself, if any of these activities feel out of control, it could be that an addiction is the cause. But because this addiction is often met with scorn or derision, many people have no idea of where to go for sex addiction help – or even who to ask about it.
The shame and embarrassment that goes hand in hand with sex addiction can prevent those affected from getting the help that they desperately need.
Recognising a Sex Addiction
Not knowing where to go for sex addiction help can be a huge obstacle to recovery, but so too is not being able to recognise the problem exists in the first place. This inability to see that the problem exists can be caused by denial, which is the brain’s way of protecting the affected person from a harsh reality.
It is important that you can accept you have a problem with whatever sexual activity is out of control before you can get the help that you need to regain control of your life. You should be aware though that sex addiction can take many forms. It may be that you are addicted to watching pornography and that it is taking over your life.
Perhaps you are spending increasing amounts of time watching porn and have found that you need to see more and more graphic images in order to achieve the satisfaction you desire. You might be spending hours watching porn and are subsequently losing track of time. Your habit may be interfering with everyday life and you might be neglecting spending time with loved ones or doing other things that you used to enjoy.
A similar situation could be arising if you are addicted to using sex chat lines, visiting prostitutes, or masturbating. If your sexual activity is having a harmful impact on daily life, it is almost certainly an addiction.
The Impact of a Sex Addiction
Obviously, having a sex addiction can negatively impact your own life, but it can also have devastating implications for the people you love, particularly a spouse or partner. Discovering that a partner is addicted to sex can be crushing. Many partners say that they felt devastated upon learning of a partner’s illness.
It made them feel inadequate, humiliated and depressed. Some will go on to suffer low self-esteem and worthlessness issues, and it can leave deep emotional scars. In many cases, it can cause an irreversible breakdown of the relationship as individuals struggle to cope with what they feel is a loss of trust. Others are no longer able to be intimate with their partner because of their feelings of inadequacy.
As well as the emotional impact of a sex addiction, there is also the risk of physical problems. Sexual health can suffer because of out-of-control sexual activity. Venereal disease and unplanned pregnancies are just two of the consequences of increasingly risky sexual activity.
Those spending increasingly more time engaging in their sexual activity of choice may also find that other areas of their life start to suffer. They might be neglecting their health and may not be eating healthily or getting enough sleep. This can start to affect their performance at school or at work, which can then have a knock-on effect on finances and future prospects.
Mental health also suffers because of sex addiction. It is not uncommon for those with an addiction to sex to suffer from anxiety and depression; many then turn to substance abuse in a bid to self-medicate their problems. This can often lead to substance addiction, which can just compound the problem.
Are You Addicted to Sex?
A sex addiction is not something that you should ignore; the longer you do this, the more likely it is that your situation will deteriorate. As with any other addiction, sex addiction tends to progress as your brain and body adapt. You are likely to find that you will need to increase your sexual activity or engage in riskier behaviours to achieve the level of satisfaction you desire. Until you get help, you may be caught in a cycle that you cannot get out of.
So ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel powerless over your sexual activity?
- Do you often feel ashamed or embarrassed about how you act sexually?
- Do you feel as though your sexual activity is stopping you from enjoying everyday life?
- Are you preoccupied with sex?
- Do you feel guilty about engaging in sexual activity after promising yourself or others that you would not?
If you have answered yes to the above questions, it is highly likely that you need to speak to someone about where to go for sex addiction help. The good news is that you can talk to us here at Middlegate.
What Treatments Are Available for Sex Addiction?
Overcoming a sex addiction is all about learning what caused the addiction in the first place and then challenging the negative thoughts that drove your behaviour. Behavioural therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) can help you to learn how to develop a healthier way of dealing with your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
If you have also developed a substance addiction, this will also need to be addressed and it may be the case that you require a detox to help break the cycle of abuse before you attempt rehabilitation with counselling.
Rehab programmes tend to be either inpatient or outpatient based, and the type of programme that you choose will depend on your needs and circumstances as well as your individual preferences. You might prefer to tackle your addictive behaviour in a residential setting where you can get away from the temptations of everyday life while you recover. Alternatively, you may prefer your treatment alongside everyday life in an outpatient facility.
Whatever your preferences, Middlegate can help. We can assist you when it comes to finding a suitable rehab provider and we can offer an assessment of your situation so that you have a clearer understanding of what your needs are. For more information on the ways in which we can help you or a loved one struggling with a sex addiction, please call our helpline today.