Sex Addiction Doesn’t Discriminate

“Addiction denied is recovery delayed.”

— Mokokoma Mokhonoana

What is sex addiction? 

Sex addiction is mired in controversy among mental health professionals. While sex addiction hasn’t yet been categorised as an addiction, it can be diagnosed as “other specific sexual dysfunction”. Many health professionals view sex addiction as a hypersexual or compulsive sexual behaviour. Regardless of the debate surrounding sex addiction/compulsive sexual behaviour, almost all mental health professionals will agree that for an individual showing symptoms of uncontrollable sexual behaviour, the consequences are often dire, and there’s a likelihood of it becoming detrimental to both physical and mental health.

Put simply, sex addiction is a compulsive need to “act out” sexually with another person or multiple persons, not withstanding a genuine desire to stop, and an awareness of the significant consequences of acting out sexually. It’s important to state that sex addiction isn’t to be confused with disorders such as bestiality or paedophilia. 

How does sex become addictive?

Consensual sex between two adults exploring their sexuality will manifest differently depending on the desires and needs expressed by those involved.A sexual encounter is a very personal experience in which a loving relationship can enhance intimacy. At Addcounsel, we treat individuals who feel they have developed a compulsive sexual behaviour which is compromising the things which are most important to them.

Sex may be misused and become an addiction if it has simply become a way of numbing out or attempting to escape everyday problems. Sex addiction will hijack the human brain’s reward centre and produce deep cravings and irritability when pleasure (dopamine) stops. An individual addicted to sex may compulsively masturbate, binge on porn, engage in risky sexual behaviour with strangers, or have multiple affairs whilst in a marriage or long-term relationship. 

Sex addiction affects all walks of life

Back in 2010, Tiger Woods was reported to be seeking treatment for sex addiction, after a string of extramarital affairs were exposed. It was perhaps the first time there had been a serious conversation about sex addiction—what it is—and what it isn’t. There were hundreds of televised discussions, some of which became quite heated and, as with many issues which ask people to face uncomfortable truths, led to polarised views and opinions being aired. Sex addiction had rarely been talked about in mainstream media, except for the occasional journalist wrongly linking sex addiction with sexual assault or misdemeanour in a tabloid story.

Both counsellors and authors have been publishing material on sex addiction since the late-1970s and early-1980s such as Patrick Carnes. However, it was the Tiger Woods story that shone the light on the fact that sex could be addictive and propelled the issue into the public domain. We know that sex addiction doesn’t exclusively affect rock stars, ultra-high-net-worth individuals, or elite athletes. Sex addiction, like any other addiction or dependency, doesn’t discriminate.

What are the signs and patterns of sex addiction?

At Addcounsel, we have identified and observed signs and patterns of sex addiction as follows: 

  • A compulsive craving to act out sexually which is way beyond the realms of a high sex drive
  • Neglecting professional and personal commitments in order to satisfy the urge to act out
  • Compulsively acting out despite a lack of satisfaction and subsequent feelings of self-disgust and shame
  • Regularly acting out sexually with strangers and confusing sex with emotional intimacy 
  • Entanglement in affairs/encounters outside a committed relationship, thus jeopardising familial stability and wellbeing 
  • Compulsively fantasising about sex  
  • Having intrusive sexual thoughtsleading to a compulsion to act out
  • Placing sexual gratification and behaviours that may lead to temporary relief above all things including family, work and social engagements
  • Intense feelings of remorse, guilt, shame, and self-loathing after the event,especially when acting out has led to a breakdown of trust in a relationship
  • Compulsive masturbation 
  • Secretive consumption of porn
  • Compulsively viewing porn
  • Visiting strip clubs and similar venues rather than socialising with family and friends
  • Acting out indiscriminately with sex workers regardless of gender
  • Unsuccessfully attempting to control sexual urges. Repeatedly making promises to oneself or loved ones to change behaviour,but finding that a relapse soon follows
  • Acting out in sexual behaviours despite wanting to stop
  • Engaging in evermore extreme/risky sexual behaviours such as compulsively attending orgies in a vain attempt to recapture the thrill experienced before sex became an addiction  

Causes of sex addiction: understanding the roots

There are numerous factors at play which may be linked to sexually compulsive behaviour and addiction. Some of them are listed below:

Genetics and biological factors

A person’s genetics can certainly increase the probability of developing any form of addiction or dependency, including sex.If there’s a history of severe promiscuity and sex addiction in one’s family of origin, the probability may increase. Biological factors and changes in brain chemistry whilst acting out sexually may develop into an addiction. 

Environmental factors

Environmental factors such as being raised in an extremely dysfunctional and stressful household can increase the likelihood of sexual compulsive behaviour as a means of self-soothing. Unhealthy or repressive cultural norms around sex may also contribute.  

Past trauma or abuse

An individual who has been abused physically, emotionally and/or sexually may find relief in acting out sexually which could subsequently lead to a dependency. Some incest survivors and those sexually assaulted in childhood may recant their abuse by acting out sexually. 

Underlying mental health conditions

An individual with an underlying mental health condition/dual diagnosis may use sex to self-soothe or numb out from emotional and psychological distress. This can happen when there’s a delayed diagnosis of a mental illness, and a dependency has developed as a result. 

Consequences of untreated sex addiction in spousal relationships

The ramifications of untreated sex addiction can be devastating and extremely hard to come to terms with when a sexually compulsive individual starts their recovery. The breakdown in trust and lack of intimacy which are so often the result of sex addiction will severely test even the most seemingly happy marriages and relationships. As the years pass, a spouse may feel betrayed, unseen, and greatly undermined by their partner’s sexually compulsive behaviour.  For the sex addict, there’s often an immense sense of guilt and self-disgust because they can see the consequences of their untreated addiction, but simply can’t stop. 

At Addcounsel, we know how hard this is to come to terms with and face in recovery. We know that sex addiction impacts an entire family unit, leaving distress and a world ofpain in its wake. Here are some of the direct consequences sex addiction will have on a marriage and intimate partnership:

  • Assuming that a couple has agreed on monogamy, the discovery of possibly years of serial infidelity can be devastating. Depression, Complex PTSD and PTSD are very common among individuals with sexually compulsive partners
  • Low self-esteem, lack of self-worth and overwhelming feelings of shame
  • Heightened risk of contracting STDs/genital injury
  • Divorce and a subsequent sense of betrayal felt by any children from the marriage 
  • Longstanding friendships may be decimated when friends take sides after a messy divorce 
  • Loss of reputation potentially leading to financial ruin 
  • Vulnerability to being blackmailed by an unscrupulous actor(s) with the threat of exposing the behaviours. This may be a particular risk if a sex addict is an ultra-high-net-worth individual or has a high public profile which could be of interest to media outlets 
  • In some rare cases, extreme violence toward a sex addict may occur as a consequence of a spouse enduring years of humiliation 
  • Grief and a sense of loss will be felt by both the sex addict and spouse, as a result of the breakdown in a marriage
  • A loss of any ability to trust oneself or another due to the emotional wounds inflicted over a period of time. Post-divorce, a sex addict may not be able to trust a new partner due to projecting their sexual compulsive behaviour on to them, and a spouse of a sex addict will have severe trust issues because of their partner’s history. Put simply, deep emotional wounds may take considerable time to heal

Addcounsel’s approach to sex addiction

When you check into one of our private and discreet residential properties for rehabilitation, you’ll be embarking upon a personalised sex addiction treatment programme tailored to your individual needs. We offer luxury private accommodation for the duration of your stay, with 24/7 access to a team of world-class experts headed by one of the UK’s leading psychiatrists and a compassionate and understanding approach to finding the solution which works for you.

Our integrative team is made up of a group of dedicated psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, and nutritionists who are all here to help you on your journey to recovery. We combine our team’s expertise to provide a multidisciplinary approach to sex addiction treatment, fusing therapy, and alternative treatment to begin your long-term recovery.

Your treatment takes place in an intimate, one-to-one setting in Mayfair, Chelsea, Knightsbridge or Notting Hill, London.— no groups, no other patients. Your comfort, safety and privacy are our priority. Contact us today to start your recovery journey.


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