I get asked this question sometimes. Many people love sex and think about it a lot, but does that make you a sex addict? The answer is most likely, no. Its a complicated topic. I found in my training that addiction goes way beyond enjoying something and thinking about it all the time. So here is a little bit of what I learned in my training in case you are wondering…am I a sex addict?
The definition of dependence is this:
1. Tolerance: You need to engage in more sexual activities or engage in different types of sex to obtain the same desired effect.
2. Withdrawal: You feel very irritable, anxious, and upset if you stop having sex as often as before.
3. There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down on sexual activities.
4. A great deal of time is spent thinking or engaging in activities to meet sexual needs.
5. Important occupational, recreational, and social activities are given up to pursue sexual activities.
There is a definite loss of control. Many addicts cope with stress by using sex to relieve tension. They have a determination to find ways to maximize sexual behavior opportunities. They usually have concerns or guilt about sexual behavior. They have feelings of unworthiness because of their sexual behaviors. They vacillate between feelings of exhilaration in middle of the sexual act to feelings of degradation after the act is over. The sexual behavior usually is increasing in intensity and frequency. There is definitely a pattern and usually a ritual surrounding the addiction. Example, if an addict always use a bar to find partners, the bar is going to become part of the ritual. The addict won’t have the same effect if they find someone while walking around in Wal-Mart.
Also many times core beliefs are involved as well. Many addicts have this belief system:
1. Believe they are basically a bad, unworthy person.
2. Believe no one could love them as they are.
3. Believe their needs will never be met if they have to depend on others.
4. Sex is their most important need.
These definitions are simplified. When I first started studying sex addiction I had no idea of knowing how complex it is. Like an eating disorder it is a process addiction and addicts have to learn how to live in moderation. Unfortunately most sex addicts also experience huge amounts of shame and also usually have a lot of abuse in their childhoods. Gaining recovery isn’t easy.
I want to assure most people out there that they most likely don’t have an addiction. If you think this does describe you, please seek some professional help. There are counselors trained in sex addiction. Visit this website for information: www.sexhelp.com
Most of the information I have given here came from my training with Dr. Patrick Carnes. His books on this subject are listed on my book page.
I will be posting more about sex addiction along with internet porn addiction in future blogs. I hope to get more information out there to help others.