Sexual Addiction: the How’s, the Why’s and the Tinder-Less Treatments.
Out of all of the disabling things in this world a person can become addicted to, you might wonder why some people find sexual addiction to be any kind of mentionable problem at all.
I mean, we all love sex, don’t we? In fact, a ravenous sexual appetite is generally regarded as a good sign that a person is living a healthy lifestyle. So why then do some people claim to have their lives controlled by sexual urges?
The truth is that sexual addiction is real, it is crippling and it is dangerous. If this is news to you, then you should probably keep reading. You may know someone with an unusually robust need to get it on, or you yourself might have trouble keeping your needs in check. Whatever the case, understanding what it means to be a sex addict is a good start to learning how to live with it.
So, what is sexual addiction?
Before you go diagnosing yourself with sexual addiction when all you really have is a healthy appetite, you should first consider the effect that your sexual activity has on your life.
In all cases of sex addiction, an inability to keep one’s desires under the lid leads to broken relationships, family troubles, isolation, a lowered self-esteem, health problems and even troubles at work, often resulting in a repetitive cycle where one’s sexual activities not only lead to life problems, but are also used as a means to escape from them (much like alcohol, weed, cocaine, heroin and television).
The point is that sexual addiction differs from regular virility in that the sufferer has no control over it, and his or her sexual lifestyle starts to seep through into all areas of their lives, making it difficult to live normally.
What causes sexual addiction?
Like any addictive substance or activity, an addiction to sex is not so much about not being able to get enough of the act, but is rather a dependence on the feeling or high created by the activity. You see, when we have sex, our brains are flooded with serotonin, which is a chemical responsible for the feeling of bliss, and it is this that your average sex addict is hooked on.
Unfortunately, the constant pursuit of this feeling often leads to a sense of unfulfillment and deep guilt following any sexual act, further lowering the sufferer’s self-esteem, which in turn raises the chance of them engaging in their addiction again and again.
Other reasons might be rooted in distant psychological trauma or abuse of a sexual nature suffered early on in life. While this is a common cause for sexual misbehavior, it isn’t always the cause for addiction.
Sometimes unordinary high levels of testosterone or estrogen in the body can also lead to an insatiable sexual appetite; however, regardless of the causes, a severe sex addiction can be troublesome for the livelihood of the sufferer and their loved ones.
Sex addiction and relationships
For those who abide by the general consensus, love and sex go hand in hand with infidelity in one having a negative effect on the other. It can be extremely difficult for someone in a relationship with a sex addict to try and accept that their partner can’t actually help seeking intimacy from a variety of sources, making it all but impossible for a sex addict to keep a healthy relationship thriving.
Even when infidelity and cheating are not acted out by a sex addict, the pressure they put on their partners to keep up with their needs can often put strain on the relationship, and have them seeking satisfaction elsewhere.
While it might be awesome in the beginning of the relationship to be having sex multiple times a day, as the relationship moves on, chances are that one of the partners’ need for sex will dwindle, causing intense frustration for the one who is the sex addict.
Family life with sex addiction
For many families, particularly those that are tightly governed by social and cultural norms, having a sex addict on board can be a source of conflict and shame, which is very unfortunate for the sufferer. In many cases, this leads to isolation of the afflicted person, which in turn leads them to turn more closely to their addiction for comfort.
Sex and work
There is nothing new about the concept of losing your job due to an inability to keep an addiction in check, and although you rarely hear stories of people losing jobs because of their sexual activities, the truth is that sexual addiction has ruined many careers.
Just as an alcoholic might come in late, take off work and underperform due to consistent hangovers and weeklong binges that keep them out of the office, so too do those who are suffering from sex addiction.
Staying up late, getting too many morning rides or just taking the week off to indulge in their desires have cost more than one sex addict their jobs, and let’s not even discuss the consequences of regular sex at the office.
Sex addiction and personal health
Possibly the most destructive side of sexual addiction is that which is related to the sufferer’s personal health. The nature of the affliction usually has people searching for newer, more intensive ways of exploring their desires. This, coupled with a low self-esteem brought on by the affliction, usually means that they engage in ever-riskier activities.
Unprotected sex, dangerous and damaging fetishes and an endless search for newer, more exciting ways to keep on having sex, more often than not result in unwanted pregnancies, contracting STDs and developing a deviant sexual appetite that falls outside of the bounds of social acceptability (such as pedophilia and prostitution) are more common and likely amongst sex addicts than those with a healthy sexual appetite.
This makes it a condition with remarkable and deadly risks.
So, what can be done to help alleviate sexual addiction?
Living with and treating addiction
While there is no official cure or medication for the treatment of sexual addictions, there are a number of treatment methods available that are aimed towards assisting the addict with controlling their urges using a number of psychological tools and treatments.
Treatment needs tend to differ from patient to patient, depending largely on the root of their addiction. In some cases, counselling is an ample route to take, but sometimes more extreme treatments are needed.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
An often very effective means of treating sexual addiction is to counsel the sufferer on ways in which to keep their sexual urges in check by changing the way they react to arousing stimuli, as well as giving them the means to avoid encounters that might challenge their desires.
Cognitive therapy doesn’t only focus on rectifying the addict’s behavior by changing the way they view sexual encounters, but also aims to limit the possibility of relapse once treatment has started to cause a positive change.
- Personal, family or group therapy
In cases where past traumas or events are the possible cause for addiction, therapy to find a way at working through the root of sexual addiction is often very effective.
Some sufferers find it beneficial to engage in group therapy, which makes them feel less isolated in their affliction, finding beneficial assistance in support groups and family sessions that can act as buffers against destructive sexual behaviors.
- Inpatient addiction treatment centers
Rehabilitation is often the only way to kick a nasty addiction, specifically in cases where the addict is very far gone and requires more than a little counseling to see them through their urges.
Much like drug and alcohol rehabilitation, sexual addiction treatment clinics create an environment for the sufferer that is free from arousing stimulus in an attempt to remove the cause of sexual urges.
These treatment facilities are dotted all over the country, and can be found with relative ease, so that the sufferer can find a safe place to work on their urges where counseling and support are always available
- Changing up your lifestyle
Of course, not all instances of addiction require such extreme measures. Whether it is smoking, drinking, taking drugs or having sex, compulsive desires can often be kicked out of sheer willpower alone, but the going is generally quite tough.
Blocking your porn sites, deleting your Tinder account, and trying to form healthy, human relationships with members of the opposite sex are a good start, but sometimes going the DIY route with treatment requires a lot more work and change.
You may find that your social groups and even your relationship is something that brings you too close to a sex-indulgent lifestyle. If this is the case (and nobody ever wants to hear this), you may need to look at auditing those who are closest to you to make it easier to pursue a healthier lifestyle.
Terrence Kennedy is on a journey to self-discovery. A traveler, extreme sports aficionado, an observant wanderer, a DIY man, an ultimate outsider and documentarist of culture, sex, dating, relationship, fashion, style and gentlemen’s etiquette. He has learned a lot through his escapades and continues to do so, and is happy to pass that knowledge to you.