Are you concerned that some of your sexual behaviours may be unhealthy? An important first step to finding out if you have a problem is to understand what sexual addiction actually is. Sex addiction can be defined as a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts. Since this is such a mis-understood addiction, this blog will hopefully help answer some of the most asked questions about the topic.
As with any addiction, sex addiction is progressive. At the beginning of the addiction, sex is used to prevent and medicate uncomfortable emotional states. In time, the behaviour becomes a habit. If you are finding that your sexual behaviour is escalating, it might be time to talk to someone who can help.
The sexual behaviours and acts of a sex addict are not about intimacy. The individual is usually compelled to act out to alleviate negative feelings or sexual preoccupation. And while the experience usually leads to a brief rush of endorphins, or a “high,” the feeling is often quickly replaced by shame and guilt.
Compulsive Sexual Thoughts and Acts
When we refer to the term “compulsive,” we mean that the activities are beyond the person’s ability to control. The person does not act out sexually for enjoyment – it’s an irresistible urge that is often against the individual’s conscious wishes. And sexual addiction isn’t just about the act of sex. It can include anything from constant thoughts of sex, masturbation and viewing pornography to constant flirting and sexual comments. In fact, sexual addiction is characterized by the rituals that lead up to the acting out behaviour. These rituals might include waiting for everyone to leave the house, drawing the shades and curtains, or flirting with a stranger in a bar. They are all a part of the unhealthy behaviour.
Another important sign that someone might be struggling with problematic sexual behaviour is their inability to control or stop their actions, even after several attempts. They will also continue to engage in these behaviours even when the behaviours are a detriment to their own health and well-being.
Help is Available
If you’re reading this, and you think you might have a problem, take a few minutes and complete our online self-assessment. If you are still concerned, the next thing you should do is reach out for help. Our certified sex addiction therapists (CSAT) and programs have been helping individuals and their partners understand and deal with this illness since 2002. There are also a number of 12-step support groups available, including Sex Addicts Anonymous (SAA), Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA), and Sexual Recovery Anonymous. S-Anon is also available for partners and family members.
Don’t let the shame deter you; help and support are available to help get you on the road to recovery.