What is Sex Addiction?
If you are looking for information about sex addiction, either you or someone you know might be struggling with the question, “Am I a Sex Addict?” or, “What is Sex Addiction?” Sex addiction often has its roots in unresolved early childhood trauma and must be taken seriously. Left untreated sexual trauma, complex-post traumatic stress, emotional incest and abuse can lead to an escalation of sexual behaviors which can result in loss of control in relationships, injury to self and loss of relationships. Similar to other addictions, sex addiction is defined by loss of control over sexual behavior, needing to escalate the sexual behavior in order to achieve the same results, or feeling compelled to act out in order to function in your daily life.
As with compulsive or addictive behavior, there exists an underlying sense of shame. This is called a shame core. “If they only knew what I was doing.” Or, “If they only knew who I really am, I would be rejected.” These negative core beliefs are grounded in a belief that one’s behavior defines who one is. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth.
Negative core beliefs such as: I am defective, unlovable, or permanently broken, is evidence that trauma and neglect are underlying the unhealthy behaviors and addiction.
When treated, individuals, couples and families go on to live sexually happy and healthy lives. Certain behaviors indicate the presence of a sexual addiction. According to Sex Addicts Anonymous, a fellowship based on the basic principles of recovery found in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, there are several indications to look for when deciding to seek help:
- Powerlessness over addictive sexual behavior.
- Unmanageability of his/her life.
- Feelings of shame, pain and self-loathing.
- Failed promises and attempts to stop acting out.
- Preoccupation with sex leading to ritual.
- Progressive worsening of negative consequences.
Sex and love addiction refers to an addictive compulsion to engage in (or avoid) sex, love, or emotional attachment. As with sex addiction, love addiction also has its roots in unresolved early childhood trauma. Healthy romantic relationships grow out of a healthy friendship, but addictive relationships are based on fear of abandonment and rejection by romantic partner. This fear of rejection or abandonment sets up a destructive pattern of relating. People involved in addictive sexual and romantic relationships use sex and love as a way to manipulate the other in order to avoid the loss of the person or the relationship. This results in an compulsive “dance” between the love avoidant and the love addict.
Debra is a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) and Certified Sex Addiction Therapist Supervisor (CSAT-S) and serves as faculty member for Dr. Patrick Carnes’ International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP). Dr. Carnes’ International Institute provides cutting-edge training to promote an international standard for sex addiction treatment and other related disorders. Debra is a noted writer and lecturer in the fields of trauma and sex addiction. Her skill and extensive expertise treating sex addiction, pornography, and love and relationship addiction has helped couples and individuals find healing and resolution. She is also a full member of the Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health (SASH), and the EMDR International Association (EMDRIA).
Debra addresses the following issues in her work with Individuals, Couples and Groups
- Sex Addiction/Compulsivity
- Love and Relationship Addiction
- Addiction to Internet Pornography
- Affairs and Infidelity
- Emotional Incest/Sexual Abuse
Frequent Questions and Concerns:
- What is sex addiction and sexual compulsivity?
- What is compulsive masturbation?
- Should I be concerned if I “must” masturbate?
- What if I have a high sex drive? Is this a problem?
- My significant other/spouse told me I sexualize wo/men. What does this mean?
- I found my significant other/spouse looking at internet pornography. What do I do?
- I confide in a close fe/male friend but I’m in a committed relationship. Is this a problem?
- My spouse is cheating on me. Why should I get help when I am not the one with the problem?
- I have stronger sexual needs than my spouse so I satisfy my needs outside of my relationship.
- Despite my love for my partner, I continue to use online chat rooms for conversation and hook-ups.