For Sex Addicts
If you think you might be a sex addict or have a hypersexual disorder, you may want to take our confidential Sex Addiction Screening quiz. Click HERE to take the Men’s Screening Quiz, or HERE to take the Women’s Screening Quiz.
Sexual addiction is a pattern of compulsive sexual fantasy and behavior that is causing problems in the individual’s life. Usually the addict has made repeated attempts to stop (or at least to limit) his or her sexual thoughts and behaviors, without success. Over time, sexual addiction escalates and takes over the addict’s life, resulting in any number of negative consequences, including relationship instability, declining physical and/or emotional health, trouble at work or in school, financial woes, loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities, legal issues and more.
Signs of Sexual Addiction
Behaviors commonly exhibited by sex addicts include:
- Compulsive masturbation
- Impulsive, repetitive use of pornography, usually online but also in more traditional forms
- A pattern of casual or anonymous sex, usually facilitated by hookup websites or apps
- Multiple affairs or a pattern of brief “serial” relationships, usually facilitated by dating websites or apps
- Repeated involvement with strip clubs, adult bookstores and other sex-focused environments, including online environments (virtual reality sex games, sexualized chat sites, etc.)
- Engaging in prostitution and/or sensual massage (hiring or providing)
- A pattern of having unprotected sex
- Seeking out sexual experiences without considering the possible consequences
- Misdemeanor sexual offenses such as voyeurism and exhibitionism
- Compulsive use of smartphone cameras and webcams for sexual purposes (webcam sex, sexualized chat, sexting, etc.)
Like other addictions, sex addiction is less about having fun and more about escape. In other words, sex addicts use the neurochemical distraction provided by intense sexual fantasy and activity as a way to “not feel” difficult emotions or the pain of underlying mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety and unresolved early-life trauma.
Most of the time, sex addicts find as much relief in fantasizing about and seeking out their next sexual encounter (be it online or in person) as in the sex act itself. They can spend hours, even days, in this heightened state, all without any physical contact. As such, sex addicts usually spend much more time engaged in the fantasy and pursuit of sex than in the sex act itself. This dissociative period is the “high” of sex addiction. Sometimes sex addicts refer to this as “the trance” or “the bubble.”
Sometimes people confuse sexual addiction with homosexuality, bisexuality, fetish behaviors and the like. These “nontraditional” fantasies and behaviors may cause people to keep secrets and to feel ashamed or out of control, but they are not sexual addiction per se. In other words, sexual addiction is not defined by who or what a person finds arousing. Instead, it is defined by compulsive patterns of sexual fantasy and behavior used to “self-medicate” and escape from emotional anguish.
Sex addicts often try to limit or eliminate their compulsive sexual fantasies and behaviors, telling themselves, “This is the last time that I am going to…,” yet ultimately they return to the same or a similar sexual fantasy and behavior. This is their loss of control. (Loss of control is evident in all forms of addiction.) Sometimes their compulsive sexual activities go against their values and beliefs – safe sex, relationship fidelity and not harming others, for example. Nearly always they find themselves filled with shame and leading a double life, keeping their sexual fantasies and behaviors hidden from family and friends.
Outpatient Treatment for Sexual Addiction
At the Sexual Recovery Institute (SRI), our primary purpose is helping people overcome sexual addiction. We offer two-week intensive outpatient treatment programs, which are a highly effective alternative to longer-term residential programs. Many SRI clients are able to complete treatment without taking a leave of absence from work. Additionally, we offer standard outpatient treatment to sex addicts living locally. To learn more, give us a call at 877-959-4114.
Yes, sexual addiction can be difficult to talk about, which can make it tough to seek treatment. However, a few moments of embarrassment (admitting your problem) can lead to a lifetime of sexual health. And rest assured, we understand how you are feeling. This means that we can also walk you through your discomfort. After all, sexual recovery is what we do. It’s all we do. And we do it well.