An Introduction to Sex Addiction


Reclaim Sexual Sanity:  Find Recovery Now by Calling 212-673-5717 for an Initial Consultation.  See www.sextreatment.com for 35 full-length articles about sex addiction and for details about my private practice.

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My focus for the blog is going to be therapy for those addicted to sex.   However, posts about addiction in general will continue to be interspersed.   For now, I’m providing a series of articles about theory because treatment is most effective if you understand what it is, exactly, you’re being treated for.

It is well known among people in the 12-step sex addiction programs that of all the addictions, sex is the most difficult to master. Far from the notion that sex addiction s the “fun” one, the suffering of dealing with this affliction is enormous. The compulsive urges are  so compelling that it is common for members of the SAA recovering groups to be unable to maintain any continuous time of sexual sobriety, giving way to despair and hopelessness.

Before sex addiction therapy, sexual enactment is the addict’s only source of safety, pleasure, soothing and acceptance. It vitalizes and connects. It relieves loneliness,  emptiness and depression. Sex addition has been called the athlete’s foot of the mind: it is an itch always waiting to be scratched. The scratching, however, causes wounds and never alleviates the itch.

Furthermore, the percentage of people who go to therapy or a 12-step program is quite small. The majority of sexually compulsive people live in isolation filled with feelings of shame.

Almost 100% of the people who come to me for an initial consultation, whether it be for compulsive use of the baths, public bathrooms, prostitutes, phone sex, a fetish, crossdressing, or addiction to dominatrixes, relay that beneath the shame they feel in telling me their story, they also experience a sense of freedom that comes from finally being able to share with another human being the hidden, shameful, sexually compulsive acts that imprison them.

This is a condition that gradually bleeds away everything the person holds dear. The life of a sex addict gradually becomes very small. The freedom of Self is impaired. Energies are consumed. The rapacious need for a particular kind of sexual experience drives the addict to spend untold hours in the world of his addiction. Inexorably, his compulsive sexual behaviors begins to exact higher and higher costs.

Whether it be on the internet indulging in sexual fantasies with fantasy people, being on the phone to the sex hot-lines, frantically searching the internet and the S & M clubs for someone who will act out a particular, ritualized fetish fantasy, cruising the bars searching for the “one” who will have sex in a public toilet, or going to dungeons to be whipped, flogged and humiliated, sex addiction is a devastating illness that takes an enormous toll. Friends slip away. Hobbies and activities once enjoyed are dropped. Financial security crumbles as sums as high as $40,000 or $50,000 a year are spent on sex.

Then there is perpetual fear of exposure. Relationships with partners are ruined, as the appeal of intimate sex with a partner pales in comparison to the intense “high” of indulging in the dark and devious world of sexual compulsion.

 

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