Sex Addiction, Sexual Addiction Counseling In Colorado Springs, Colorado & Durango, Colorado
Coming to this webpage, you are most likely wondering if you have a problem with sex addiction and if so, what you can do about it. People who are sexually addicted are usually in a great deal of pain about it. Guilt, shame, and inner loneliness are very commonly described by those with sex addiciton issues. Sex addiction hurts – yourself and others.
Sex addiction is increasingly and alarmingly destroying both individual lives and the relationships, marriages, and families in which they are involved. As a psychotherapist who has specialized in the treatment and healing of sex addiction for the past 20 years, I see this deadly addiction causing great pain to partners and spouses and ultimately to those who are sexually addicted. In this article, I will discuss why and how sex develops into an addiction and show you how there is a way out of it for those who are ready and willing to do what it takes to get there. There is hope for you and your relationship!
When Does Sex Become An Addiction?
Defining & Understanding Sex Addiction
If you engage in frequent sex, you might wonder how you can determine if your sexual behavior is an addiction. Here is my working definition of an addiction: An addiction is any substance, behavior, or person that you use to mask your pain or anxiety. It is harmful to you and / or others and you have difficulty giving it up. There are certain characteristics which differentiate sex addicts from those who are sexually active. Sexual addiction is obsessive-compulsive sexual behavior which can take on any form(s).
There are four levels of sex addiction with each depending on variables related to the sexual activities involved. Sex addiction is a mental health disorder and is similar in nature to other types of addiction such as alcohol and drug addiction. Like many mental health problems, sexual addiction can be healed and the addict can recover using similar methods to those used among drug addicts and alcoholics. The benefits associated with healing and recovery are enormous. You get to live a healthy life that you are unable to live with your current sex addiction.
Sex addiction is usually associated with early unresolved trauma issues most of the time of a sexual nature. These unresolved traumatic memories create an imprinting in the neuropathways of the brain. The brain’s neurochemistry, the sympathetic nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system, and normal sexual responsiveness becomes altered because of the previous trauma and subsequent stress.
Typically, anxiety disorders, sexual intimacy problems, and depression usually follow. Many times post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is involved and needs treatment and healing. These previous traumatic and tragic events often cause feelings of self-loathing, intense anger, loneliness, self-consciousness, and depression and get acted out with compulsive sexual behaviors. If you’ve experienced these feelings and have unhealed and unresolved sexual trauma in your past, you may have searched for a way to change your obsessive thoughts and feelings and make them go away. You may feel driven by your intense sexual desires that get acted out in very inappropriate and harmful ways to you and your spouse or partner.
Substances which alter the brain chemistry such as cocaine, alcohol, and amphetamines cause the brain to release more of the hormone dopamine. As the primary neurotransmitter, dopamine is primarily responsible for the pleasurable or euphoric feelings experienced by most people. Engaging in certain physical activities such as sex and reaching an orgasm trigger these same reactions within the brain. Because of the satisfaction and sexual and psychological relief or escape these substances and activities give to someone who is usually already psychologically troubled, he or she will want to experience the euphoric experiences frequently. As a result, sex addiction may develop fueled by obsessive thoughts and feelings about sex and a driving compulsion to sexually act out in various ways. As the addiction escalates, sexual behavior may even become violent and criminal in nature.
Another interesting component of sex addiction is that the addict expends a great deal of energy engaging in sexual behavior or hiding it from others and consequently finds greater illness due to a weakened immune system. The sex addiction escalates over time as behaviors shift into the next higher level of addiction.
Engaging in sexual or romantic activities is healthy within the right context, though the moderation or frequency amongst individuals varies. Some people engage in these activities more frequently than others, but the increase in frequency alone does not make them sex addicts. You may want to refer back to my definition of addiction above if you are uncertain about about whether or not your sexual behavior is really sex addiction. Your behavior must meet all four criteria to be an addiction.
Therapy sessions with professional sex addiction counselors may either be done individually or in a group setting. In my private practice I use specific trauma therapies such as EMDR II, EFT and Clinical Hypnotherapy to heal the underlying causes of sex addiction in individual sessions, and refer clients to local 12 Step recovery groups for additional support.
Several organizations such as Celebrate Recovery – a Christian recovery group, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and Sexaholics Anonymous also provide programs and various support groups to assist those who have an addiction to change and correct compulsive sexual behaviors. While these support groups are helpful in recovery, they are not therapy to heal the underlying causes of sex addiction and until these issues are addressed for healing in therapy, the sex addiction will prove immovable. Certain prescription medications can also be useful in the treatment of co-occurring, psychological problems associated with sex addiction.
If you would like more information and a self-assement for sex addiction or porn addiction please click here.
If you believe you have sexually addictive behaviors and feel ready to get the professional help you need, or if you are uncertain that you are dealing with sex addiction and want a professional assessment to determine if you need help, please call me at 970-422-6102. You will be glad you did. God bless you on your journey.