Twin Rivers-Sexual Addiction & Intimacy Disorders
Most people can understand to some degree that people may become addicted to drugs or alcohol but cannot rationalise why or how someone becomes addicted to sex? This widely misunderstood addiction is ritualistic in nature, creates a lot of preoccupation, usually requires a lot of money (prostitutes, DVDs, Pornography), sexually ‘acting out’ is the temporary fix closely followed by a period of depression/emptiness, causes social awkwardness and a tendency to isolate as well as possibly affecting work and ability to work. The question can always be asked “why does Fred use heroin and Mary abuse cocaine whilst John is addicted to sex? Childhood sexual abuse or neglect must be considered and it is surprising how often clients report access to pornography at an early age! Sexual abuse can play a part in someone become sexually addicted and yet those unfortunate enough to experience child sexual abuse can drift into any addiction.
What is Sexual Addiction?
Sexual addiction is a condition characterised by the extreme frequency of sexual urges, behaviours or thoughts. While a certain level of sexual desire and interest is normal and, indeed, healthy, when one’s sexual urges begin to have negative effects on one’s life and the lives of the people around him or her, sex can become a destructive and pathological force. Just as with substance abuse a habitual ritual is involved involving a developing need/desire, the ritual in finding a person to have sex with.
Sexual addiction is often associated with addictive or obsessive personalities and may be the behavioural manifestation of low self-esteem, other psychological disorders or behavioural conditioning. Regardless of the roots and causes however, one thing that remains constant in all cases is the need for professional assistance from therapists who truly ‘connect’ with this disorder and have the ability to empathetic and treat this potentially devastating disorder.
Sexual Addiction Usually Takes a Predictable Course
- Preoccupation – regular fantasies about sexual prospects or situations which can trigger a need to ‘act-out’ sexually
- Ritualization – the favoured sexual activity is often repetitive
- Compulsion – despite negative consequences the drive to continue remains
- Despair – guilt, shame and possibly self-hate because of their inability to take control of their behavior
Other behavioral problems, particularly drug addiction and eating disorders can develop alongside the sexual addiction, perhaps in an attempt to gain some level of control and yet everything actually gets worse!
Causes of Sex Addiction
Many sex addicts report some form of abuse or neglect as children and frequently see themselves as diminished or damaged in the process. Their parents may have been sex and/or love addicts themselves, which suggests that both genetic and environmental factors may play a role. Stress and emotional pain also fuel compulsive sexual behavior by feeding the addict’s need for withdrawal and fantasy.
Other factors that may contribute to sex addiction include:
- Inconsistent parental nurturing and support
- Lack of parental role modeling of healthy, adaptive behaviors
- Early exposure to sexual material or experiences
Twin Rivers Sexual Addiction Programme
Sexual Addiction is sometimes misdiagnosed as the sexual behaviour, in some cases is due to a client consuming stimulants such as cocaine which heightens sexual urges and lowers inhibitions! In this instance the client can be treated for cocaine addiction and this will positively impact the clients sexual desires and hopefully reduce the clients need to ‘act-out’ sexually. The clients shame around past sexual behaviours will also need to be addressed through psychotherapy. It is the therapists ‘job’ to find out what came first, sexual behaviours or the cocaine use. The therapist needs to be careful not to lose sight of the ‘primary’ addiction and not assume its a cross-addiction. https://twinriversrehab.co.za/cocaine-addiction/