Estimates of the number of sex addicts in the U.S. alone are somewhere between 19 and 30 million people. They encompass all ages and every walk of life, including rich and poor, educated and non-educated, children and women. Too often we associate sex addiction with men, but it affects everyone.
Am I a Sex Addict?
Have you ever wondered whether you have a real addiction to sex, or are you just “oversexed”? Do you feel a compulsion to act out sexually in various ways? Has it ever gotten you into trouble with someone you met or cared about? Has it brought you into trouble with the law?
Sex addiction is similar to drug and alcohol addictions in that it is compulsive and all consuming. Here are several symptoms of sex addiction that you may recognize in yourself:
- Repeatedly engaging in sex with multiple partners.
- A preoccupation with sexual activities, including online porn, masturbation, or engaging in multiple affairs, even when you desire to stop.
- Spending hours visiting porn websites or reading sexually explicit books or magazines.
- Neglecting family, work, or school activities in order to pursue sexual activities.
- Engaging in sexual activities despite their negative consequences, such as health risks or divorce.
- Feeling irritable when your pursuit of sexual activities is thwarted.
- An inability to stop the behavior, despite attempting to do so.
- A persistent pursuit of self-destructive or high-risk sexual behavior (to yourself or others).
- Neglecting your social obligations in the pursuit of sexual behaviors.
Admitting Your Problem
It is not necessary to have all of the above, but if you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself and desire to stop, the first step is to admit that you have a problem. You need to recognize that you cannot do it on your own. If you think that you can, then why have you not already done so?
Robert Weiss says that the problem with trying to stop on your own is that there are several factors driving the problem: “…primarily an unbroken cycle of triggers, acting out, and denial, plus a big dollop of lies, secrecy, shame, and self-loathing” (Sexual Addiction 101).
Help for Sex Addicts
But the good news is that there is help. With the proper guidance, you can change the behaviors that are causing you shame and self-loathing. You can begin to live a healthier life.
Once you are motivated to change, the first step is to find a therapist you trust who understands sexual addiction. Many therapists are now trained in sex addiction therapy, and you can find them online. Many of us at Seattle Christian Counseling are Certified Sex Addiction Therapists (CSAT). Individual therapy begins with a thorough gathering of family of origin history, including any traumas. Having someone who can support you as you begin this journey is vitally important. Know that this is not going to be a quick fix.
Group therapy is also important in order to get support from others who have experienced what you have. Being accountable in a group setting, and learning that your problems are not unique, is really helpful to the healing process. Joining a 12-step recovery group is also helpful, and there are several available. These also offer additional support, something that a sex addict in recovery really needs.
Christian Counseling for Sex Addiction
Just as you were once focused on your addiction, you will now be immersed in your healing. As a Christian counselor, I am convinced that you are important and that you deserve to have the best life you can.
“Rushing Water and Stone,” courtesy of JoJo Nicdao, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Blossoming,” courtesy of Chrismatos, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0); “Sunrise in the Tetons,” courtesy of Billy Gast, Flickr CreativeCommons (CC BY 2.0)