For most people, sex is a healthy and enjoyable part of life. For others though, this behaviour can become compulsive, often resulting in serious personal consequences. Until quite recently, sex addiction was dismissed as an attempt to excuse irresponsible behaviour. However, research indicates that sex activates the same reward system in the brain as a number of other substances such as alcohol, cocaine and heroin. If you believe that you or someone you love is suffering from sex addiction, we advise that you contact our clinic and speak to one of our admissions staff. They will be able to advise you on the next steps and answer any questions you have regarding treatment.
What is Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction is classed as a behavioural addiction. The definition of sex addiction, and the behaviours involved, are a matter of ongoing debate within the medical and psychiatric communities. There is no universal consensus about whether or not compulsive sexual behaviour constitutes an actual addiction. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) does not include sex addiction as a distinct disorder, therefore various perspectives can be found regarding how to classify and diagnose it. Sex and sexuality is a vast complexity and sexual experiences and behaviour that may be problematic for one human being, might not be for another. For this reason, receiving a diagnosis or feeling comfortable enough to seek help is a problem amongst sufferers.
What are the Stages of Sex Addiction?
While every case of sex addiction is unique, the condition often follows a relatively predictable course which may often be cyclical.
Preoccupation: During this first stage, you may find yourself preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of a sexual nature.
Ritualisation: Specific routines may have been developed which increase arousal and intensify the preoccupation with these sexual acts. For example: dressing up, purchasing sex-related items, looking for partners, substance abuse, and other activities can all form part of these rituals.
Compulsivity: This phase is typically the shortest phase of the cycle, and is not always accompanied by feelings of sexual satisfaction and fulfilment.
Remorse: There is typically a period of overwhelming negative emotions such as guilt, shame, self-loathing, and anxiety.
Different Sexual Activities
If you’re suffering from sex addiction, you may find it’s not always about intercourse. There are many different types of sexual activity that you’re motivated to partake in and may gradually become obsessed with. These may include voyeurism, exhibitionism, anonymous or transactional sexual activity.
Signs and Effects of Sex Addiction
It’s important to remember that each person is different, and every experience is unique. The outcome and consequences of sex addiction will differ for every individual. As someone suffering from sex addiction, you may find yourself engaging in frequent sexual acts, or overwhelmed by the compulsion to do so at any time – including inappropriate moments. As a result, you may find it difficult to focus on other activities, including work. This in turn can impact your financial security amongst other things You may find you have become obsessed with sexually related matters; and thinking about, planning, seeking out, and engaging in sexual activities can take up most of your time. This will often be at the detriment of important or previously valued activities, responsibilities and relationships.
Other effects include:
- Neglect of responsibilities such as work, school, parental duties
- Financial problems
- Legal problems
- Interpersonal relationship problems
- Mood swings
- Deceptions, sneaky behaviour
- Lying and manipulation
- Loss of control
- Social isolation
- Risky behaviour
- Engaging in criminal activity
- Other addictions for example substance abuse
- Health consequences such as HIV/STD’s
How is Sex Addiction Treated?
Sex addiction treatment is available on an inpatient or outpatient basis. Your decision will ultimately be based upon your individual needs and circumstances. While residential rehab is considered to be the most effective form of treatment for sex addiction, clinics like CATCH Recovery offer exceptional outpatient addiction treatment.
Effective treatment for any addiction consists of a medical detox where necessary. For behavioural or process addictions such as sex addiction, where no substances are involved, an intensive form of psychological therapy is required.
Treating the psychological aspects of addiction will provide you with the tools you need to maintain long-term sobriety. Psychological dependence is the term used to describe the emotional and mental components of substance use disorder. This is usually characterised by strong cravings for a particular substance or behaviour and the inability to function without it.
CATCH Recovery uses evidence-based treatments such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectic Behavioural Therapy (DBT), grief and trauma therapy, one-to-one counselling sessions, group therapy and online therapy. We also teach relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation which can help with managing stressful situations such as the compulsion to engage in certain behaviours.
Whether it’s residential rehab or intensive outpatient therapy, finishing a programme can also feel daunting. You may feel overwhelmed without the structure and safety you’ve become accustomed to. With this in mind, we have created an exceptional aftercare programme designed to prevent relapse and help you deal with the stressors of everyday life.
Finding Treatment for Sex Addiction in London
Whilst a sex addiction can be much more subtle than say drug addiction, the effects and negative impacts on one’s life can be just as damaging. It is important to know that recovery from sex addiction is possible.
At CATCH Recovery, our team of addiction specialists have many years of experience treating behavioural addictions, like sex addiction. If you’re looking for sex addiction treatment in the South East of England, you can call our admissions team for your free addiction assessment, and they will be able to advise you on the next steps.
Our clinic is based in South West London, which is accessible from anywhere in the UK. However, if you need additional support but don’t live in the South East of England, you may benefit from some of the outpatient services we offer. If you require residential rehab and are unable to travel to London, we also provide referrals to rehabs in other areas in the UK and Ireland.