Help with Sex Addiction in Chicago
Sex addiction is a term that is often used but widely misunderstood. When you hear the term “sex addict”, it likely conjures up all sorts of imagery ranging from a person who can’t control their libido to an individual who needs to have multiple sexual experiences in one day. In truth, this particular behavioral addiction is much more complicated than that. Let’s find out more.
What is sexual addiction?
At its core, sexual addiction involves a set of behaviors whereby a person engages in ongoing and escalating patterns of sexual behaviors despite negative consequences to themselves or to others. The addictive characteristic comes into play because the individual, no matter how “strong”, is simply unable to stop or control these behaviors.
Many people are mistakenly believe that a person cannot be addicted to sex it doesn’t contain a substance (i.e. alcohol, cocaine). That type of thinking is simply wrong. The human body produces certain hormones, connected to neurotransmitters, which during sexually charged experiences can create the same chemical “high” as alcohol or drugs.
Like other types of addiction, sex addicts commonly have a history of abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) and/or neglect. In fact when you peer behind the curtain, you often find extensive family histories containing numerous other addictions. Here we are talking about alcohol, prescription medications and illegal drugs.
Sex Addiction Signs
Understanding if you or someone you love has a sex addiction can be challenging. Part of the problem relates to the human defense mechanism known as denial, coupled with extreme shame connected to personal sexual behaviors.
Generally speaking, there are a number of signs that may suggest a person is struggling with a sex addiction.
What follows are 7 of the “biggies”:
- Use of sex to “check out” and “numb out”.
- Having a “secret” sex life and engaging in potentially risky behaviors.
- Loss of control over sexual behaviors, despite an awareness of potential consequences.
- An inability to stop risky sexual behaviors even after experiencing negative consequences. Examples include job loss, getting busted cheating, contracting an STD or getting arrested.
- The pursuit of sexual experiences (i.e. sex, cyber-porn, hookups) interferes with normal activities of daily living. In short, the “search for sex” consumes large swaths of time.
- Ongoing drain of financial resources in pursuit of sex.
- Placing oneself in risky situations which are personally dangerous and often illegal (Examples: cruising bathroom stalls, looking for hookups on company computer, soliciting prostitutes for sex).
Behaviors Common in Sexual Addiction
- Multiple anonymous sex partners
- Compulsive cyber-sex
- Frequent use of sex workers
- Compulsive use and reliance upon adult video
- Frequenting places for sex (bath-houses and bookstores)
- Simultaneous affairs outside of primary relationship
- Co-addiction to a substance (i.e. alcohol, crystal meth, cocaine).
The key word to keep in mind regarding all of these behaviors is compulsive. In short, people who have a sex addiction compulsively engage in activities that place themselves and/or loved ones at risk personally, physically and financially.
What causes sex addiction?
The cause of an addiction, regardless of rather it is a substance or behavior based is always complicated. The exact reasons why a person develops a sexual addiction are currently unknown however, it is thought that the following contribute to its onset:
- Fears of intimacy with others
- Mismanaged emotions that run the gambit
- Previous history of abuse in relationships
- History of incest or molestation
- Extreme shame around sex topics
- Various forms of abuse during childhood
- Learning to use sex to “medicate” deep hurt
- Long-term problems with self-esteem
Treating sex addiction
The treatment of sex addiction is a multi-prong process. Before recovery can take place, the person must recognize that the negative consequences associated with their behaviors outweigh any perceived benefits. In other words – the person has to want to change.
Many sex addicts benefit from ongoing participation in support groups that are designed to help people who identify with this particular issue. One example is the 12-step group, SLAA (Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous).
Mindfulness based therapy can also help to draw awareness around three common triggers for acting out on sexual urges; (1) people, (2) places and (3) things.
Sex Addiction Help Chicago
If you feel you are struggling with a sex addiction, reaching out to a helping professional trained in addictions can be an important step in creating positive change. Remember, what you share in therapy is completely confidential.
Rest assured your therapist will not judge you and is there to help you better understand your behaviors so that positive change is possible. We take a humanistic approach to wellness with the understanding that behaviors related to sex are not always black and white.
Please give us a call today at 773.528.1777 to make an appointment to discuss your situation or send us a note using or confidential contact form.