Many people living with sex addiction may experience trouble controlling their sexual thoughts, behavior or urges. Sex addiction may occur when a person uses sex compulsively or dependently, regardless of the potentially harmful consequences. While this behavior might harm relationships or lead to significant adverse effects in multiple areas of your life, counseling can teach you coping skills and help you identify and work through the underlying causes.
What Is Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction is a general term to describe a psychological dependency characterized by excessive thoughts, urges, behaviors, and desires related to sexual activity and challenges controlling them. Compulsive sexual behavior (CSB) can be referred to as sex addiction, hypersexuality, sexual compulsivity, and sexual impulsivity. Many medical professionals debate whether excessive sexual impulses and behavior are an addiction, compulsion, or impulse control disorder. Each classification indicates a specific treatment plan, and it can be challenging to determine when this behavior becomes problematic. In these cases, reaching out to a professional might be advantageous.
What Are The Symptoms And Signs?
This addiction may be wrongly portrayed as a joke in the media, trivializing its effect on those living with symptoms. As with many dependencies, knowing the signs and symptoms can make it feel safer to seek treatment early or help a loved one take steps toward recovery. Sex addiction can be challenging to manage alone, and counseling may be an effective way to learn coping skills and receive support. Research shows that sex addiction can function much like alcohol or substance use disorder in terms of its impact on the human brain. Having an active libido may not mean you are addicted to sex. However, if your sexual habits harm one or more aspects of your life, consider reaching out for professional help. If you are afraid that you or a loved one may have an addiction, here are some sex addiction symptoms to keep an eye out for.
A few signs of this addiction can include:
- Cheating on romantic partners
- Risky sexual behavior and unsafe sex practices
- Obsessive dating
- Excessive masturbation
- Compulsive pornography use
- Difficulty stopping sexual behavior despite adverse consequences
- An urge to have sex multiple times a day or in unsafe locations
How It Can Affect Relationships
According to the authors of a paper about CSB in the Journal of Psychosexual Health, sexual addiction has been ignored by clinicians despite potentially causing significant emotional and behavioral symptoms. Few reputable studies have been conducted on this type of sexual behavior. While the debate continues within the psychological community about the criteria and symptoms of CSB and its facets, those living with excessive impulses and their partners or families may still require support. This addiction might involve excessive pornography consumption, compulsive masturbation, risky sexual behavior, or sexual activity with another person despite harmful consequences and efforts to stop or control the behavior.
Treatment Options That Can Help
CSB is a difficult condition, and what does a sex therapist do in these situations? A qualified therapist can help you determine the underlying reasons. However, treatment may take time. Treatment for sex addiction often involves psychotherapy, self-help support groups, and medications to mitigate symptoms. The primary goal of treatment may be helping the client reduce excessive sexual behaviors while maintaining healthy levels of other activities. Below are a few options to treat compulsive sexual behaviors.
Speak With A Qualified Therapist
The process of psychotherapy (talk therapy) may help you explore the causes, thoughts, or beliefs behind your CSB and teach you how to manage them with minimal impact on your life. Treatment can be effective in individual, group, family, or couple forms. Many therapists favor cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to identify unhealthy or unhelpful ideas related to sex and replace them with healthier perspectives and thought processes. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) is a form of CBT focused on accepting your thoughts and urges and committing to strategies that promote actions consistent with your values.
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is another form of therapy centered on increasing awareness of your unconscious thoughts and behaviors. This evaluation offers insight into your motivation and may allow you opportunities to resolve conflicts.
Learn To Distinguish Between Healthy And Unhealthy Encounters
Sex is a natural, healthy activity between consenting adults, but it may have negative impacts if someone pursues it to the point that it interferes with everyday life or relationships. Unhealthy patterns may cause conflict and lead to unintended health and safety concerns. CSB often drives a person to continue seeking sex despite these negative consequences. However, education and therapy may offer an intervention.
For many individuals, sex was considered a taboo topic while growing up and your parents may not have discussed what a healthy sexual relationship is with you. Sex addiction therapy can help you differentiate between healthy and unhealthy behaviors in yourself and others. For example, seeking a new sexual partner after an adverse event might be a harmful way to cope with difficult emotions. Sexual interactions with CSB can often leave a person feeling worse and more vulnerable than before and may limit their ability to appreciate sex healthily.
Stephen B. Levine, the author of a study about sexual addiction, states, “conventional society expects adults to manage their sexual behavior within certain limits and parameters. These expectations form largely unwritten rules that support the institution of marriage, preserve the dignity and health of the partner who expects monogamy, and shield children from the risks of family breakup and skepticism about love.” Discussing consent, sexual health, medical history as it pertains to sex, and sexuality can reduce expectations, ensure trust, and establish healthy relationships.
Recognize Prompting Events Or Thoughts
Suppose you’re using sexual activity to avoid the past, escape emotional or physical pain, or feel less alone. In that case, it may be helpful to identify what situations commonly cause you to feel this way. When you know the thoughts or behaviors that prompt you to want to partake in sex, you can talk to your therapist about challenging these and finding healthier coping mechanisms.
Ways To Cope With This Condition
CSB can be a difficult condition requiring a multifaceted treatment plan, including various therapeutic approaches like CBT, relapse-prevention therapy, psychodynamic therapy, and medication. Many people may also find that support from a self-help support group can help keep them accountable and make it easier to resist urges. You can also try the following coping strategies.
Keep a journal of your sexual urges and times when you’ve made mistakes. Track the date, time, duration, and intensity from 1-10, along with what coping skills you practiced, how well they worked, and whether you repeated them. You can also journal about your emotions. Studies show that journaling can improve mental health and allow a healthy outlet for expression.
Avoid Prompting Stimuli
For some people with sex addiction, avoiding certain people, places, or situations that might prompt an urge could be beneficial at the beginning of recovery. While avoidance might not be an effective long-term strategy, you might utilize it until you learn new coping skills from a therapist.
Learn From Mistakes
Recovery from any dependency can be long-term and challenging. Treat yourself with kindness when you make mistakes and learn from the experience. Reward yourself when you meet milestones and remind yourself that you’re doing your best.
Dating Someone With Sex Addiction
Dating, living with, or being married to someone with sex addiction may cause challenges. You might feel overwhelmed by the frequency of sex requests or a lack of intimacy during intercourse. In addition, you might worry about infidelity or exposure to sexually transmitted infections. These concerns can be valid, and you might also benefit from therapy on your own or with your partner. You can also set sexual boundaries and ensure consent is present in your relationship.
It can be challenging to seek treatment for sex addiction due to stigma or fear of vulnerability. However, therapy can be effective. You can consider individual or couples therapy and learn unique skills to target your unwanted behaviors or urges while minimizing their impact on your life. You can also consider online counseling if you’re looking for an unknowns or less stigmatized form of therapy. With online counseling, you can choose between phone, video, or live chat sessions. Through many platforms, like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples, you are free to choose a nickname when you sign up to stay unknown during treatment. Therapists can provide personalized worksheets, resources, and advice, and you can message your provider any time throughout the week.
CBT is one of the most popular treatments for sex addiction, and a recent study found that online sessions of CBT can be as effective as in-person treatments. The same study found that virtual therapy is often less expensive and offers greater reachability than office visits.
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Sex addiction can have distressing symptoms and impacts. Can a sex therapist near me help, you may ask? Yes, sex therapy or CSB counseling expert may help you develop coping strategies to withstand urges and communication skills to build a stronger relationship with your partner or a healthier relationship with sex to feel in control of your behaviors and urges. If you’re interested in discussing your symptoms with a professional, consider reaching out to a therapist for compassionate guidance and support.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Below are several of the most frequently asked questions on sexual addiction.
Can Hypersexuality Disappear?
Hypersexual concerns, sexual addictions, and other mental health issues can be treated. Whether you struggle with addictive behavior regarding sex, compulsive behaviors and addiction in general, self-loathing, low self-esteem, or mental health symptoms regarding hypersexuality, treatment options are available.
One of those treatment options is group therapy. Although it can seem scary to talk to a group about your relationships and sexually compulsive behaviors, a group like Sex Addicts unknown (SAA) may help you discuss your compulsive sexual behavior with others who understand and experience similar concerns.
Many addictions are treated in a group setting or with a licensed professional counselor offering individual therapy. Find someone with specialized training in addiction who understands sexual addiction and its impact on mental health. A sex addiction therapist may help you address symptoms like distressing sexual compulsions, excessive masturbation, or unwanted urges.
Are Sexual Addictions Normal?
Sexual addiction can be common. Individuals struggling with this symptom may feel an obsessive or constant need for sexual gratification. They may struggle with sexual behavior in public or inappropriate moments, excessive masturbation, partaking in sexual activities they don’t want to do, or partaking in a risky sexual compulsion that causes a risk to their mental or physical health.
Being addicted to sex doesn’t make you a “bad” person. Sex addiction is a behavioral addiction that can cause mental health conditions and symptoms. If you think you may be struggling with dependency on sex, reach out for professional advice.
Individual counseling is one option available to you, and seeking professional advice can be brave. Caring for your mental health can also help you take care of your physical health and potentially lessen the number of distressing symptoms you experience.
How Can I Find A Sex Addiction Therapist Near Me?
There are therapists worldwide specializing in sex addiction. You can search for therapists online, ask your primary care physician for referrals, or call local therapists listed on Google Maps.
If you live in an area with few therapists available, consider online therapy. Online therapy can allow you to speak to a trained and licensed therapist with experience in sex addiction and sexual behaviors. They can help you learn new skills from the comfort of your home, where you may feel safer and more comfortable discussing sensitive topics or symptoms.
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