Sexual addiction is defined as a sexual disorder wherein a person engages in persistent and escalating patterns of sexual behaviors despite increasing negative consequences to self and others. The sexually addicted person loses the ability to control sexual behaviors and instead indulges sexual fantasies and a near constant search for a sexual “fix”. It is a serious condition that interferes with the person’s social and marital life, deteriorating not only the life of the sexual addict but also the lives of the people around him or her. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way for the addict or those that love him or her. Recovery is possible and when the process is followed addicts can be predicted to recover. Trust can be placed in such a process when trusting in the words of the addict is no longer possible. People can and do get and stay sexually sober as long as they do the things they need to do so that they don’t do the things they don’t need to do. It’s that simple but not all that easy.
Recovery takes time and hard work but with guidance and a supporting environment, restoration of the sex addict’s physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, and sexual life eventually takes place. Professional treatment is highly recommended as sexual addiction is a complicated and complex problem that demands experts in the field; but ultimately, the realization and acceptance of the disorder must come first from the sex addict. Sexually compulsive persons are often aware that there is a problem but usually feel helpless to change until the consequences of their behaviors have started to doom their lives.
A lot of avenues are available not only for the sex addict but also for his or her spouse, family, and friends, in healing the sexual addiction and starting to regain control and self-esteem. Recovery includes rebuilding trust and relationships destroyed by this serious disorder. Psychotherapy is high on the list of recommendations and finding someone who truly specializes and understands this problem is critical. Most sex addicts are unlikely to share their “secret lives” with someone they don’t trust and who “might not understand.” It is thus very important to find the right therapist that the sex addict can connect with and who understands the complex issues of recovery from sexual compulsivity. Other recommendations include attending a 12-step recovery group like Sex Addicts Anonymous, “working the steps” with a sponsor, and building a community of people in recovery. Entering a sex addiction recovery therapy group is also a big help. Medications may also be indicated to manage symptoms of depression, anxiety, or even Bipolar or Attention Deficit Disorders.
Regardless of the method taken, the first and most important step in dealing with sexual addiction is the admission of the problem. Only when the individual realizes that his or her sexual behavior patterns pose a problem and that something must change will the healing process start. Until the behavior stops, nothing changes. Understanding the conditions giving rise to the sexually compulsive behaviors comes after admitting that the problem exists and the acceptance that the individual is truly out of control. It is only then that the recovery and healing process through the help of the methods mentioned above can begin.