Is Sex Addiction Ruining Your Life? Sex Addiction Therapy can Help
In February we posted about behaviors that point toward sex addiction. This is probably one of the more frequently misunderstood addictions. To some people the idea of being a “sex addict” sounds dramatic and maybe even exciting, but remember, a sex addition is not all about having lots of crazy sex or watching pornography all the time. It’s not about one specific repeated behavior or pattern of thinking either. It usually stems from intimacy issues: are you pursing intimacy without truly experiencing it?
Sex addition therapy can help you understand and manage all of the issues that relate to this complicated addiction.
People who experience sex addiction frequently engage in behaviors that might not be harmful in-and-of them of themselves, but they pose a big risk to the addict’s sense of self-worth. Personal, romantic, and work relationships are all usually negatively affected in varying degrees.
Why sex addiction therapy?
As we mentioned in our previous post, many people mistake not engaging in certain behaviors for being in control of their addiction. Too frequently, the addiction wins out and the person relapses into the activities he or she had been trying to suppress.
Sex addition acts on receptors in the brain just like a substance addition. Withdrawal symptoms when unable to engage in the addictive behavior(s) make it very hard to manage your addition on your own.
Unlike drug addictions, however, wherein addicts are encouraged to give up the substance, individuals who suffer from sexual addiction may want to engage in sexual behaviors in the future — just in a non-addictive way. Therapy can help the recovering addict navigate this challenging path to wellness.
What will happen during sex addiction therapy?
There is no one test for sex addiction, so a licensed practitioner will take the time to understand your feelings, mental health, and physical well-being for associated symptoms. The professional might administer a verbal, written, or computerized self-test that can be used to screen for sexual addition.
Not every session or practitioner will use exactly the same steps during sex addition therapy. Many have seen success with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT helps sufferers understand their personal triggers for sexually destructive behaviors and learn to manage them. Over several sessions and maybe inpatient or outpatient programs, depending on the severity of the addition, the brain can be weaned off of addictive behaviors.
Some addictions are better treated with serotonergic (SSRI) medications. Sex addition therapy will help determine the course of treatment (perhaps a combination of CBT sessions and SSRI medications) that works best for you. SSRI medications are most frequently used to help people who suffer from depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. These mental health issues sometimes accompany sex addiction. SSRI medications or mood stabilizing drugs have also been shown to lessen the urges in some individuals who suffer from sexual addictions.
Your spouse or other family members will also benefit from therapy sessions. Codependency recovery means that both people have to come together to overcome relationship problems related to the addiction. Sex addiction therapy can help you be stronger, together.
Sex addiction therapy doesn’t have to be scary. It takes courage to reach out for help, but don’t worry about ending up in a frightening white room alone with a modern-day Freud. There are many options out there, including nature retreats and/or group-based residential safe-spaces. Art therapy might also help! Since sexual addictions damage relationships, group or partially group-based sex addition therapy is often effective in repairing relationship-building skills. Your therapist will also be able to recommend a support group if this is a good option for you. A recovery network can provide a useful shoulder to lean on and useful tips or ideas for dealing with cravings or withdrawal as you learn to manage your addiction.