Sexual Addiction is the term used to describe any sexual activity that feels 'out of control'. That might be sex with a partner, viewing pornography, masturbation, visiting sex workers, or any number of other sexual activities. Although many of these activities don't cause a problem for most people, a person with a sex addiction feels compelled to engage in their chosen activity, in spite of the problems it may cause in their personal/family/work relationships.
Sex becomes addictive in a similar way to alcohol and other drugs. During sex, our bodies release a powerful cocktail of chemicals that make us feel good and some people get addicted to the high these chemicals produce. Like substance addictions, the body gets used to these chemicals and the sufferer soon finds that they need more and more sex in order to achieve the same buzz. As with chemical addiction, in between the highs of sexual fulfilment are the lows. Most addicts feel an immense amount of shame about their behaviour. They also feel regret, remorse, anxiety and isolation, most feel powerless to change.
Unfortunately these powerful feelings often cause the sufferer to seek out sex as a way to escape. Sex becomes a pain reliever, an escape from the very problem that it has created itself.
Access to porn nowadays is much easier due to the widespread use of the Internet and what can start off as a harmless stress or sexual release can for some lead to compulsive usage where you have little control over your use of Internet pornography. You might initially plan to go on the internet for a short period of time but then find yourself on a pornography website and before you know it hours end up passing.
You may even have escalated from viewing porn to escaping into your virtual world enrolling on dating sites, meeting people online for cybersex, arranging one night stands with strangers or starting serial affairs.
Excessive use of sexual porn/fantasy can change how you feel about partner sex as it can even cause lack of desire and erectile dysfunction. If your use of the internet is having a negative impact on your life and starting to have priority over other interests, for example, friends, family and romantic relationships you may need support.
Sexual Addiction – Am I an Addict?
If you answer yes to 5 or more of the following questions, you may benefit from making an appointment for a full assessment.
1) Feeling that your behaviour is out of control
2) Being aware that there may be severe consequences if you continue
3) Feeling unable to stop your behaviour, in spite of knowing the consequences
4) Persistently pursuing destructive and/or high risk activities
5) Wanting to stop or control what you're doing and taking active steps to limit your activities
6) Using sexual fantasies as a way of coping with difficult feelings or situations
7) Needing more and more of the sexual activity in order to experience the same level of high
8) Suffering from intense mood swings around sexual activity
9) Spending more time planning, engaging in, regretting/recovering from sexual activities
10) Neglecting important social, occupational or recreational activities in favour of sexual behaviour
If You Think You Suffer from Sexual Addiction
The first step to overcoming the problem is to acknowledge that you are in the grips of an addiction and that your behaviour has damaging consequences. You need to accept that this problem will not go away by itself and you need to take personal responsibility to recover from your addiction. The majority of addicts find it very difficult to change their behaviour on their own. You may be able to curtail the behaviour for a while, but often a cycle develops that is extremely hard to break.
How I can help you?
I provide both individual therapy and group treatment programs to help people with sex and porn addiction to stop their unwanted behaviours. Therapy can be especially beneficial for exploring the deeper unconscious processes that often cause and fuel addiction and helping you to develop a full understanding of the everyday events and feelings that can trigger behaviours as well as helping you to develop long term relapse prevention strategies. As a professional Sex Addiction Therapist I can help you to explore your concerns about your sexual addiction, understand where it began for you and whether it was due to some traumatic experiences, difficulties in making and maintaining relationships with others or an opportunity that became a habit. The recovery work will help you to find other ways of making yourself feel better about yourself without harmful consequences and finding the road back to a healthy sexual lifestyle.
Support for Partners
I also offer support for partners as most partners are devastated to discover their partner is addicted to sex and/or pornography and many find it difficult to believe it’s even true. Others may have been battling for years to discover the truth and may feel relieved when the truth is finally out. Partners need their own space to recover from the shock of discovery and someone who understands the problem who can help them decide what their future will hold.
I hold the ATSAC Professional Certificate in Treating Sexual Addiction and have undertaken The Hall Recovery Course Training. I offer a compassionate, ethical practice and due to the sensitive nature of this work, all clients can be assured of total discretion and absolute confidentiality, as with all other areas of my practice.