Sex Addiction and Recovery
How much intimacy is too much?
The specific attachment a person has to compulsive sexual encounters, rather than the quantity or type of sexual activity engaged, is what defines a person as having a sex addiction.
Anyone who has ever had an orgasm is aware of the immense power of sex. It is indeed exhilarating to experience an orgasm and the fantastic rush of sexual pleasure it brings. Nevertheless, a person not addicted to sex can also enjoy and find satisfaction in other relationships and activities, regardless of how much or how frequently he wants sex.
But those who are sexually addicted don’t get much joy or satisfaction from anything else. The ambition to repeatedly recreate the “high” of sexual ecstasy becomes an obsession because the world is viewed through a sexualized lens.
Who develops a sex addiction, and why?
People who exhibit signs of sexual addiction typically fear having very personal relationships. Through very impersonal, non-intimate habits like masturbation, empty affairs, numerous visits to prostitutes, voyeurism, and the like, they continuously and compulsively strive to connect with others.
Their addiction isn’t really to sex but rather to the strong state of sexual arousal that is an instant mood changer (the “erotic haze”), which they become intoxicated with due to the euphoria and surge of their brain chemicals, mainly dopamine. They enter the erotic cloud by engaging in intense, highly ritualized sexual conduct.
What does the term “addiction” mean?
People who are addicted to sex use it in the same way that people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol do: as a numbing agent that lets them ignore unpleasant realities and as a technique to control their moods whenever they experience stress or anxiety. They often go through emotional states resembling those of people addicted to narcotics as dependency on the activity worsens.
Loss of self-regard, despair, loneliness, frustration, guilt, wrath, and self-hatred are phrases I frequently hear from my patients. Additionally, I regularly attend to my patients describing their sexual practices as immoral, strange, and filthy, which makes them feel ashamed and contempt for themselves.
They frequently pay the price for their obsessive sex behavior in the form of marital conflict or partner loss, poor productivity at work, and emotional abandonment of their kids. Jobs, relationships with family and friends, and one’s health are sacrificed in the ritualistic quest to repeatedly experience the sensual haze of sexual pleasure.
Sexual addicts inevitably feel compelled to act out, regardless of how much it violates their morals and expectations of proper conduct. They are unable to see the effects of their actions. They are forced to act in ways at odds with their core principles because they are obsessed with receiving immediate fulfillment through intense sexual stimulation.
How can I say if I have a problem and what kind of assistance I require?
This is not meant to replace expert guidance in any manner!
Only you can determine whether a behavior is detrimental to your life; without your input, any change would be shallow and transitory.
Asking yourself the three questions that ALL addictions share is an easy method to self-diagnose.
There is a solution…
It is possible to break the vicious cycle of sex addiction. The first prerequisite for transformation is a clear commitment. Another requirement is the ability to create and adhere to a recovery plan. A therapeutic, caring, nonjudgmental relationship with a therapist knowledgeable about sex addiction may be part of your approach, but individual therapy is insufficient. Sex addiction revolves around withdrawal and seclusion. Recovery depends on coming out of isolation and interacting with other people.
The peer support and knowledge you acquire from participating in a SMART Recovery group meeting can be essential to your recovery strategy.