We know what you’re thinking. There’s no way I’m giving up sex! We agree. (No seriously, we would never suggest anyone go the no-nookie route. Talk about driving yourself crazy...) But as healthy and natural as an active sex life is for any of us, sexual behavior and orgasm release massive amounts of dopamine and endorphins in your body that can create an unhealthy compulsive addiction to sex.
It’s estimated that around 16 million Americans, both men and women, struggle with an unhealthy addiction to sex. But what’s the difference between someone with an addiction and those who just really really (really) like a good old-fashioned bangaroo?
Sex releases chemicals in the brain and body that can prompt unhealthy dependencies.
Sex addiction is the inability to control one’s sexual behavior. It’s a psychological dependency in which a person engages in compulsive sex in order to escape feelings of pain or anxiety, rather than dealing with these negative emotions in healthier ways. This includes promiscuous and unsafe sex that is disconnected from a healthy relationship. Any sexual activity that results in feelings of shame or guilt afterward, especially if you’ve tried to curb a habitual behavior and failed, usually constitutes unhealthy addictive behavior. A sex addict seeks the short-term thrill of orgasm to hide or cope with emotional trauma or dysfunction.
Signs of sex addiction include:
- • Frequent or high risk casual sex
- • Excessive cheating or adultery
- • Excessive reliance on pornography
- • Missing work or important social events to pursue sex
- • Spending lots of time planning, and engaging in sexual activities
- • Using sex to cope with other problems
The consequences of unrestrained addictive sexual behavior can lead to a breakdown of personal relationships, sexually transmitted diseases, depression, and a loss of job opportunities. Sex is great.
It’s healthy if handled from a mature, responsible perspective. But if you’re putting your health, work, and relationships in jeopardy to pursue unrestrained or unbalanced sexual escape, you may have an addiction problem that requires professional counseling and addiction treatment.
Sexual activity that causes problems in your work life or relationships is likely addictive and unhealthy.
Since sexual activity is a normal part of the human experience, admitting that you have a problem can be difficult. As with most addictions, the first step is to admit you have a problem.
Many struggling sex addicts are ashamed to admit they have a problem. It doesn’t seem as “real” as a heroin or coke addiction. But it is real. Often you won’t realize how serious a problem the obsession has become in your life until you lose a relationship or contract a disease. Don’t let it go that far. Seek professional counseling that can help you understand your behavior and the causes behind it.
The goal of sex addiction recovery is not lifelong abstinence, but bringing an end to compulsive, self-destructive sexual behavior.
Sometimes a sexual activity addiction is a sign of a more serious condition such as depression, anxiety, or obsessive compulsive disorder that is simply manifesting as deviant or excessive sexual behavior. The most successful sex addiction treatment programs approach recovery the same as a chemical dependency. The goal of sex addiction recovery is not lifelong abstinence, but bringing an end to compulsive, self-destructive sexual behavior. Many sex addiction help programs do, however, recommend a 60-90 day period of self-imposed abstinence, which helps the addict to come to an understanding of why sex has been used as a crutch and how to live without the obsession.
Make Sex a Healthy Habit
The West has fought a long and awkward battle with sexual shame and guilt, based on religious and historical patterns of thought. Today we are much more open about sexuality but that doesn’t mean the discussion is always a healthy one. It’s important to find a positive, healthy relationship to sex and intimacy that is based on a mutual respect of both partners. Sex should bring us together and magnify our best qualities, not degrade us with obsessive, compulsive, and risky behavior that we are forced to hide and ignore. Talk to someone who is wiser than you and learn to form healthy sexual partnerships.
Upon completion of a successful sex addiction rehabilitation program, patients are able to recognize the reasoning behind their compulsions as well as identify triggers and risk factors for unhealthy behavior. Recovery gives patients a new perspective on life, intimacy, and relationships and cultivates a sense of self-respect and balance in regards to intimacy and sexual expression.
There's good sex and there's compulsive behavior; learn the difference.
Learn to approach a sexual relationship with a mature, responsible, and caring perspective that promotes mental, emotional, and physical health for all. Successfully treating sex addiction promotes, among other things:
- A closer, more caring bond with your partner or long term relationship
- Healthier self-respect and personal boundaries
- Renewed energy and focus for work and social obligations
- More energy for focused, loving sexual partnerships
In a culture that is saturated in sexualized imagery and pop icons, it can be difficult to identify the unhealthy manifestations of our own natural desires and instincts. Finding professional council can help to heal old sexual wounds and prepare you for a life of loving relationships and sex that is meaningful and productive, instead of just a good high.
Sex Addiction Facts
In the US are sexually active online
Google searches are for porn
Relationships porn use causes issues
Americans classified as sex addicts
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