“Oh come on, sex addiction isn’t real. It’s just an excuse to get laid a lot.”
“He’s a sex addict? It probably isn’t safe to be around him one-on-one.”
“Sex addiction? What are you complaining about? If I could have any ‘disorder’ I’d choose one that allowed me to have sex all the time! Get over it.”
These are the kinds of ignorant and insensitive comments that those suffering from sex addiction are typically faced with. To the outsider, claiming an addiction to something as intimately cherished and seemingly innocuous as sex is quite ludicrous. But for the afflicted, sexual encounters are no longer about intimacy – no, not at all. The sexual experience is no longer about passion, closeness, or expressions of affection. Addicts utilize sexual activity to avoid uncomfortable feelings, seek pleasure or control, or cope with outside stressors such as interpersonal issues or difficulties in the workplace. While the ways in which sex addiction manifests range greatly, it is consistently true that those suffering at the hands of this specific addictive disorder face grave emotional devastation and unrelenting psychological torment. The predominant symptoms of sex addiction include a loss of control over sexual urges and compulsions, failed attempts to control sexual behavior, and an accumulation of negative consequences – often interpersonal, emotional, legal, and financial.
Sex Addiction Linked to Past Trauma and Abuse
Research shows that sex addicts often come from abusive households, and experienced significant trauma (sexual, physical, or emotional) early on in life. One study found that roughly 82 percent of all diagnosed sex addicts reported being sexually abused in childhood or early adolescence. Additional studies have proven a clear link between early abuse and neglect and the eventual development of sex addiction – many sex addicts report their families of origin as uncaring, distant, and harshly rigid. Within these families, substance abuse is exceedingly common. 80 percent of all sex addicts report significant substance abuse or addiction within their families of origin. Many sex addicts simultaneously suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder due to such significant familial dysfunction.
Sexual Abuse – A Generational Pattern
Victims of such abuse will often repeat abusive patterns, acting on a subconscious desire to regain control. Over-sexualized children will grow up with muddled sexual boundaries, and may not even recognize that the behaviors they are exhibiting are unhealthy or detrimental to themselves and others. It is also believed that this lack of love and affection throughout childhood leads to an increased desire for positive attention later on. Many sex addicts confuse sex for love, and continuously engage in risky sexual behaviors in search of the fulfilling, nurturing, and loving relationships that eluded them early on. Afflicted individuals will often internalize a great amount of shame, considering they are aware of how inappropriate and damaging their actions truly are. This crippling shame prevents many an addict from seeking adequate professional help, and works to further exacerbate the issue. In order for long-term recovery to be maintained, this deep-seated shame must be brought to light and worked through.
Sex Addiction – A Complex Disorder
It is important to understand that sex addiction does not merely refer to someone who engages in sex with multiple partners, or someone who has sex with the same partner to an excessive and unhealthy degree. The most common misconception about sex addiction is that the disorder simply entails having a lot of sex a lot of the time. In reality, sex addiction can range from compulsive masturbation and utilizing online sex chatrooms to frequenting strip clubs and compulsively hiring prostitutes. Sex addiction comes in all shapes and sizes, though the consequences are typically similar – and always immensely devastating.
Recovery Is Possible
Because sex addiction so frequently stems – at least in part – from significant childhood trauma and abuse, it is crucial that psychotherapeutic treatment is sought. Additionally, because substance dependency often coincides with sex addiction, any individual suffering from both conditions simultaneously will greatly benefit from a dual diagnosis treatment program. We at Next Chapter focus on all repercussions of early trauma, treating sex addiction, substance dependency, and all other potentially related psychological disorders. We employ proven therapeutic practices to help our clients identify healthy and efficient ways in which to identify and cope with uncomfortable emotions, eventually reversing detrimental behavioral patterns. We address shame and sexual boundaries, helping clients form healthy relationships with themselves thus allowing them to develop healthy relationships with others.
If you believe that you may be struggling with a sex-related addictive disorder, there is help available. We have extensive experience working closely alongside men who struggle with sex addiction, substance abuse, and many underlying issues relating to childhood trauma and early abuse. For more information on our comprehensive program of recovery, please feel free to contact us at 1-844-822-7524 today.