Sex Addiction

Sex Addiction can be defined as any sexual behavior that is secretive, shameful, or abusive, which continues despite negative consequences. Some sexual acting out behaviors include: compulsive use of prostitutes/massage parlors, prolonged use of pornography, compulsive masturbation, compulsive anonymous sex, compulsive infidelities that include physical and emotional affairs, compulsive use of strip clubs and obsessive sexual and/or romantic fantasy.

Some major characteristics which are often common to these sexual acting out behaviors are obsession/preoccupation, fantasy, intensity, power, and loss of control. Continuing a behavior, despite negative consequences, is often an indication of  sexual addiction. Most  sex addicts have tried to control or change these behaviors, at some point, with little to no success, leaving feelings of guilt, shame, despair, anxiety, confusion, anger, and/or frustration.

If you are a sex or love addict and decide to enter recovery, you will probably experience some withdrawal symptoms which involve painful feelings. Often sex addicts may manage these feelings by developing other addictions. Sometimes when one addictive behavior decreases or gets eliminated, other behaviors/addictions will appear for the first time, or increase if they had already been present. This is referred to as Cross- Addiction, or Co-Occuring Addictions. Some of these addictions may be destructive eating, shopping, computer use, alcohol or substance abuse, gambling etc. Sometimes a sex addict may not have sex for an extended period of time, which is called Sexual Anorexia. It may look like recovery but it is another form of Sex Addiction.

If you or someone you care about is suffering from Sex Addiction, it is important to know that recovery is possible. The best chance of recovery involves a combination of seeing a therapist experienced in the treatment of Sex Addiction who you trust and attending a 12-step program. Some 12-step programs are SRA, SCA, SA, SAA, and SLAA.  Links to these 12 step programs are on my resource page. To enter recovery, maintain sobriety and experience healthy sexuality you will need a lot of support. I hope you will let me be part of your support network.

In addition to individual and couples therapy, I currently have a group on Wednesday evenings from  7:45 to 9:15 for recovering Sex Addicts. There are several openings and, if you are interested, please feel free to contact me.

Gail Appel, MS, LMHC, CASAC, CSAT