I’ve read that addiction is a state of mind that permeates one’s life. It’s like you are running frantically to stay one step ahead of fearful feelings. Like someone scurrying through life to avoid getting drenched by a dark rain cloud that is in constant pursuit. To start recovery means to stop running, sit still, and get drenched in the rain.
An addict does everything possible to avoid pain. Addictions are a way to fill an emptiness or a hole that is left from feeling unloved. Sex becomes a way to connect to someone. At first it seems like a perfect way to fill the void. A lot of addicts at first have a fantasy that if they just meet the right person all their problems will just go away. Usually the problems compound in relationships. Sex addicts feel ashamed and therefore put up a wall between themselves and others. They continue to feel alone even in the most intimate situations with other people. They may keep pursuing different sexual partners to find that fulfillment but keep coming up empty. Even though they want to stop having meaningless sexual encounters, the compulsion to continue the behavior is very strong.
Many sex addicts also use alcohol and drugs as part of the sexual ritual. Alcohol and drugs can give a sex addict courage to meet their next sexual conquest, remove inhibitions or heighten romantic delusions. For many sex addicts, sex without drugs or alcohol is almost impossible. It helps them relax and not really think about what they are doing. Other sex addicts use alcohol and drugs to numb the pain afterward when the reality of the sexual encounter hits them.
Addiction to sex is much deeper than really loving to have sex. Addiction produces shameful feelings. If you engage in something you love you usually feel really good afterward. Sex addicts have the same characteristics as other addicts. They have tried to stop their behavior and can’t. They have withdrawal symptoms when they don’t engage in their addictive ritual. They feel very shameful about their actions. It is negatively affecting their work, school, or social life. Here are some questions to think about if you are concerned you may be a sex addict.
Do you feel compelled to have frequent sex either with a partner or by masturbating?
Are you confused by your sexual behavior?
Do your sexual fantasies or obsessions about romantic involvements interfere with your concentration or your abilities?
Do your sexual activities include the risk, threat, or reality of disease, pregnancy, coercion, or violence?
Has your sexual behavior ever made you feel hopeless or suicidal?
Do sex and romance usually involve alcohol, drugs, or compulsive eating or not eating?
Do you have trouble just being friends with men or women because you think about being sexual with them?
Do you usually feel remorse or shame after having a sexual encounter?
Do you feel anxious, depressed or irritable when you try to stop your sexual behaviors?
If you answered yes to several or all of these questions you may want to learn more about sex addiction. The websites below have a lot of useful information. There is no cure from sex addiction. A person who is no longer engaging in their addiction is in recovery. Recovery is the process of standing in the rain and dealing with pain. Without help many people are “white knuckling” their recovery. Facing the pain alone without the guidance of how to get through it is an almost impossible task. There are counselors specifically trained in sex addiction that can guide you through the beginning of the recovery process if you feel you are struggling with this type of addiction.