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Sexual Addiction

Understanding Sexual Addiction

Q.  How do I know if I'm a sex addict? 

I think that the best way to determine if you are a sex addict is by being honest with yourself about the negative consequences that your behaviors have or potentially have on yourself and those around you. This may include loss or potential loss of relationships, jobs, families, and time, as well as sexually transmitted diseases, anxiety, shame, depression, productivity decline, and an overall lack of peace and well being in your life. Take an online assessment at www.sexhelp.com or download a copy of the SA ScreeningTest or the SA Internet Screening Test.

Many times our minds try to rationalize our behaviors with statements like: I am not hurting anyone else, no one has to know about this, I deserved to do this, etc. My experience is that eventually the negative consequences of our behaviors begin to surface, many times with devastating effects i.e.: caught surfing porn at work or home, getting arrested for sexual behavior, or an affair being discovered. 

Q.  What is Sexual Addiction?

Sexual Addiction can be defined in many ways, but the bottom line is that it will...

Take you further than you want to go
Keep you longer than you want to stay
And cost you more than you want to pay

If you have found that your time, energy and focus has become centered on or around your sexual activity then keep reading.

Sexual addiction is any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which increases in intensity and frequency over time and that becomes unmanageable.  It's destructiveness casues stress on family, friends, and one's work environment.  

Patrick Carnes defines addiction as having a pathological relationship with a mood altering chemical or behavior. For a good understanding of the brain functions of Porn Addiction check out Gary Wilson's site yourbrainonporn.com  Simply stated, sexual addiction is the lack of control of some sexual behavior or relationship.  Perhaps the most helpful definition is a practical one.  Sexual behavior that has become unmanageable and that has a negative effect on one's life.

Sexual addiction has been called many things like sexual dependency and sexual compulsivity.  Whatever you call it, it is compulsive behavior that completely dominates your life. Sexual addicts make sex the most important thing in their life.  More than family, friends, or work, sex comes first.  As the primary focus, everything is made to fit around it, even to the point of sacrificing what is cherished most so that the unhealthy behavior can continue. 

 

Like with alcohol or drugs, sex addiction fits the classic, four-component model of what comprises an addiction:

  1. Compulsivity - The loss of control over a behavior. An addict continues in the behavior or relationship despite repeated attempts to stop.
  2. Continuation despite negative consequences.
  3. Preoccupation or obsession.
  4. Tolerance - More of the same behavior or an escalation of progressive behaviors is required to get the same “high”.
  5.  

For some, the addictive behavior does not progress beyond compulsive masturbation or an extensive use of pornography, phone, or computer sex services. For others, their addiction can involve illegal activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, child molestation, or rape. 

Sex addiction is a destructive and difficult problem. It ruins relationships, loses jobs, causes arrests, and destroys self esteem and physical health. Millions of people are affected by this addiction.  However, where there is a desire to recover there is hope. 

Developing Healthy Boundaries 

Sex Addicts Anonymous has a helpful tool called The 3 Circles for understanding the difference between our healthy behavior, compulsive behavior, and the behaviors in between that aren't bad in and of themselves, but can lead us into our inner circle.


Spirituality as a resource to overcoming sexual addiction

As seen below in the Sexual Addiction Cycle,   there is the clinical expression of the sexual addiction cycle and then there is a spiritual understanding of what is can look like instead.  



If your treatment includes the desire to understand the spiritual and moral implications of sexual addiction, I will work with you along those lines.  I have found that a Christ centered recovery can be a powerful recovery.  One in which, transformation is visible to self and those around you.  Understanding God's plan and purpose for you as an individual can release you from the habit of identifying yourself with your sexual behavior alone, rather than with who you are as person who is loved and valued by God.


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