Sexual Addiction Counseling
What is Sexual Addiction?
Sex addicts use sex and/or pornography in the same way an alcoholic uses alcohol: to numb negative feelings and escape from the painful parts of their lives. The sexual experience becomes mood altering and overtime, he or she will need more of it to numb, medicate, and escape. The person addicted crosses boundaries and values that he/she would never cross if it wasn’t for the addiction.
The person addicted attempts to control and/or stop the addictive behaviors and may have some success but the addiction returns. The sex addict becomes discouraged, hopeless, and gives into the cravings once more. He or she needs professional help to stop before crossing other boundary lines and faces consequences that can be difficult to reverse.
Sex Addiction: A False Solution To Pain
It is important to understand that addiction is a “solution” to pain, past trauma, and anxiety – addiction literally becomes a coping mechanism. If somebody starts doing something to cope, and if they do it long enough, the body adjusts to the point that it needs that level of activity just in order to feel balanced. Overtime, the sex addict needs “more, better, and different.” What use to work to medicate and escape, no longer works so the sex addict seeks out more of the high, something better than the last experience, and different…meaning a different kind of experience than past.
The addiction takes on a life of its own and the addict no longer has control.
Sex Addiction: Loss Of Control
Sexual addiction comes in many different forms. There is no single type of behavior or even amount of behavior that will indicate you are a sexual addict. The problem is much more complex than can be explained in a few words and if you have been living the life of a sex addict, you know how difficult it is to describe what you are experiencing. Three basic things to consider when you define sexual addiction are:
- Have you lost control over whether or not to engage in your specific out-of-control sexual behavior?
- Are you experiencing consequences because of your specific out-of-control sexual behavior?
- Do you feel like you are constantly thinking about your specific out-of-control sexual behavior, even when you don’t want to?
Typically what happens is that an addict responds to stress by using sex, alcohol, food, drugs, etc. and when the stress goes away the behavior is reinforced. In the above drawing, addiction really isn’t about alcohol, drugs, gambling or sex – it’s about a solution to pain. It is a unhealthy response that has become part of the system and has reached the point where it has become pathological. The addict will use whatever works to take away the pain.
Sexual Addiction Produces Shame
The addictive behaviors produce guilt, shame, self-hatred, remorse, emptiness, and more pain in the addict and he is driven to more isolation, more secret keeping, more inward, away from reality, away from relationship with others, and lost to a world of loneliness. The compulsive behaviors make true intimacy impossible. Real connection with another becomes impossible because addicts become addicted to the unreal.
“Addiction is an illness of escape. Its goal is to obliterate, medicate, or ignore reality. It is an alternative to letting oneself feel hurt, betrayal, worry, and—most painful of all—loneliness.” (Carnes, 2001)
A person who is addicted to sex is living in an imaginary, self-created world that avoids the possibility of experiencing rejection or the risk of pain that a real relationship can offer. It is a person’s attempt to avoid the pain often caused by real intimacy. The sex addict is essentially creating a pseudo-relationship with someone/something that can be controlled and manipulated; such as a picture, a video, or a prostitute.
The main issue of sexual addiction is not the need for more sex, rather, it is to control and avoid relational pain. This is similar to how an alcoholic or drug addict uses alcohol or drugs to avoid their pain.
Sexual Addiction Counseling Treatment
Treatment for sexual addiction begins with sharing the truth of your sexual behaviors to a trained counselor that will never judge you, never reject you, and understands that the behaviors are used to numb and medicate the real underlying pain. Our therapists will help you identify your past wounds and trauma and how to begin healing rather than escaping.
At Front Range Counseling Center, we provide individual and group counseling for men that struggle with porn and sex addiction. We also have therapists that specialize in working with the spouses and partners of sex addicts. Our therapists are trained in the 30-tasks model developed by Dr. Patrick Carnes for working sex addiction recovery. You will never be shamed. You will feel safe and your information will remain confidential. Don’t wait another day to begin your recovery and healing journey!
If you are ready to work our sexual addiction program, there are two ways to setup an appointment with one of our counselors:
1) Fill out the Contact Form and a counselor will call you with 24-hours; or 2) Call our offices at 303-933-5800.