For any addict, seeking counseling can be a major difficulty. Addiction is heavily stigmatized and cutting your outlet of choice is a painful decision to make; after all, you’re addicted for a reason—you feel that you need it.
Add to those difficulties the fact that your addiction is so often mocked – its validity questioned – by the general public, and the choice to seek counseling becomes even less likely.
Sex addiction is real. Sex can be used as a fix to relieve anxiety, depression, loneliness, and countless other emotions. It can also be used negligently or dangerously, the same way prescription medication can. It is estimated that 12 million Americans engage in risky sex (unprotected, and with too many partners) with the frequency of an addict. There are various ways to deal with sex addiction, most of which can apply to other drug intervention programs.
Sex addiction can be a difficult disease to diagnose, because there are several mental health conditions that can cause similar hypersexual, or nymphomanic, symptoms—ADHD, OCD, bipolar disorder. Sex addiction manifests somewhat differently, with the sex itself acting as the epicenter of the problematic behavior rather than as a side-effect. It shows itself through intense sexual impulses; a drive for abnormal sexual activities; difficulty forming emotional connections; using sex as an escape behavior; and disregarding the consequences of sexual activities. Not all these symptoms show in all cases of sex addiction, but more than one will.
For most addictions, quitting entirely is a reasonable, and helpful, option. An alcoholic may not be able to quit cold-turkey without medical assistance, but one he does, he can take solace in the fact that, despite some superficial social pressures, he will never again have to worry about how hard it will be to have “just one drink,” because he never will. Sex is different. For most couples, it’s a healthy and important part of the relationship.
In this regard, sex addicts face the same challenge as food addicts, who do need to eat. Like food addicts, however, this paradigm doesn’t deem the situation hopeless; the key is eliminating the thought-processes that lead to excessiveness and impulsivity. Treatment for sex addicts include a variety of psychosocial treatment which focuses on identifying behavioral triggers, as well as both individual psychodynamic psychotherapy, which in this case deals with the conflicts that trigger dysfunctional sexual behaviors; and cognitive-behavioral therapies, which mostly mirror the treatment options of drug abuse programs. There are also a variety of medications involved in both forms of treatment.
Because sex addiction is rarely discussed, getting help for yourself or a loved one can be an intimidating and downright uncomfortable proposition. Know that are inpatient and outpatient facilities focused specifically on sex addiction; as well as self-help groups and counseling programs—for both individuals and couples.
To learn more, explore our website or contact us at (800)-910-9299.
And importantly: Go about this as soon as you can. The longer you wait to tackle sex addiction, the harder the process will be. This is true for any addiction.
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