Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction is a method of medicating feelings and/or coping with stress to the degree that one’s sexual behavior becomes the major coping mechanism in their life. The individual often cannot stop the sexual behavior for any great length of time by themselves. The sex addict spends a lot of time in the pursuit of his or her sexual behaviors/fantasies or they have a binge of sexual behaviors.
2. Why do people become sexually addicted?
This is different for every sex addict but generally speaking there are biological, psychological, and spiritual reasons. The following is a short explanation. The biological addict is someone who has conditioned their body to receive endorphins and enkephlines (brain chemicals) primarily through reinforcing a fantasy state with the ejaculation that sends these chemicals to the brain. Psychologically, the need to medicate or escape physical, emotional or sexual abuse can demand a substance and the early addict finds the sex medicine usually before alcohol or drugs. Spiritually, a person is filling up the God hole in them with their sexual addiction. The addiction is their spirituality; it comforts them, celebrates them and is always available and present. Then there is the sex addict who can a mix of two or even three of the above reasons. This is why a specialist in sex addiction is the best route for recovery from sex addiction.
3. What’s the difference between sex addiction and high sex drive?
I have heard this question on almost every national talk show or radio show I have been on over the years. A person with a high sex drive is satisfied with sex. It’s not about a fix for something; when their partner says “NO” it doesn’t make them go off the handle thinking their partner is totally rejecting them and have to leave the house or act out in some other way. If you can relate to the latter, chances are there may be an addiction issue.
4. Can you be addicted to masturbation?
Yes. This is by far the most common sex addiction that I have treated in working with sex addiction. This usually is the first sexual behavior many of us will have on a repeated basis. This is usually where the sexual compulsion starts and this behavior, regardless of other acquired behaviors, usually stays active. This behavior usually starts early in adolescence while the brain is still developing.
5. What role does pornography play in sex addiction?
For many sex addicts, pornography combined with regular masturbation is the cornerstone. Many sex addicts have great difficulty getting sober from this combination of behavior. The pornography with accompanying fantasy creates an unreal world that the sex addict visits throughout their adolescence and other developmental stages and creates an object relationship that conditions their emotional and sexual self to depend upon these objects and fantasies to meet their emotional and sexual needs- hundreds of times before having sex with a real person.
6. Can someone be a sex addict and not be sexual (or intimate) with their spouse or committed relationship?
YES! We call this later stage of sex addiction- sexual anorexia. In this stage of sex addiction, the addict prefers the fantasy world and fantasy sex with themselves or others instead of relational sex with their spouse or partner. The addict/anorexic avoids relational sex and hence this couple has sex infrequently and often only at the non-addicted partner’s request.
7. What is it like to live with a sex addict from a partner’s or wife’s perspective?
Partners or wives living with a sex addicts typically report common feelings, such as aloneness, the sense that the partner can’t open up and tell you about his “real” self. Confusion comes as a result of doing certain behaviors that are still not enough and hopelessness that there isn’t enough. Anger from many unmet needs, as a person and as a woman, are often common. Many of these issues are addressed in the following books and DVDs.
8. Can partners get help even if the sex addict doesn’t?
Yes. Even if the addict stays in denial of their addiction, the partner can receive help and support for herself. The feelings of anger, loss, loneliness and many other feelings encountered over the years of living with this addiction will affect a person. These feelings need to be dealt with therapeutically whether they stay married to the addict or not. If you would like a more information on a counseling appointment, call (719) 278-3708. As a partner or wife, the addiction is in no way your doing; the addiction started many years before you even met your addict. This addiction would have grown and damaged anyone they would have related to, in any relationship. You can subscribe to our Partners Newsletter by visiting our Newsletter Page.
9. Is there recovery from sex addiction?
Yes, there is recovery for sex addiction. This recovery takes time and hard work especially in the first year but with guided help the sex addict can experience restoration in their emotional, relational, sexual, financial and even spiritual lives. I have seen marriages made better than they ever were and addicts live much happier lives than they ever thought possible. I have been in successful recovery almost for over twenty years and know the help is available for those who choose to work for and maintain recovery. If you would like a more information on counseling , please call (719) 278-3708.
10. Is there research on sex addiction available?
There is research being done in the field of sexual addiction. The monitored mail list of Heart to Heart Counseling centers provides weekly research information as well as excerpts from 101 Practical Exercises for sexual addiction recovery, as well as Twelve Step discussions. To subscribe go to our Newsletter page.
11. Can women be sex addicted?
Yes! The number of women desiring treatment is growing significantly. The behaviors are the same as their male counterparts, including: masturbation, pornography, internet activity, anonymous encounters and affairs. Over twenty recovering female sex addicts contributed in writing She Has a Secret: Understanding Female Sexual Addiction. This book plus the Secret Solutions Workbook, with over 115 helpful techniques for recovery is just for her. If you would like to set up a counseling appointment to start your journey of recovery, call today. There is hope for female sex addicts for recovery.
12. Is there any other way to help our children not become sexually addicted?
Yes! Even though many of our adult male clients report that their fathers were sex addicts (porn, affairs, prostitutes etc.), they also report getting little to no proper sexual information to balance their sexual perspective. We have created two DVDs addressing healthy sexuality for teens. Born for War teaches young men practical tools to defeat the sexual landmines their generation faces and offers scriptural truths to empower them to desire success in the war that is thrust upon them. Princes Take Longer Than Frogs helps single women ages 15-30 successfully navigate through the season of dating and how to distinguish between a Prince and a Frog.
13. Are adult dating sites part of sexual addiction?
Many sex addicts desire anonymous encounters. Sex addiction has flourished with the Internet and the anonymity it offers. The altered state of grooming an anonymous person can be very addictive to a sexual addict so yes, these websites are used in some people’s sexual addiction.
Could My Spouse be a Sex Addict?
- Does your spouse have unaccountable time?
- Does your spouse have unaccountable money?
- Does your spouse have unexplainable moods?
- Does your spouse’s moods depend on whether he/she gets sex or not?
- Does your spouse have a lack of sexual activity with you?
- Does your spouse have a history of emotional, physical or sexual abuse or neglect?
- Does your spouse have a supply of pornography (especially the kind you get at adult bookstores)?
- Are there many arguments over sex?
- Is your spouse unable to be emotionally intimate?
- Does sex appear to not satisfy him/her (wants more right away or there never seems to be enough)?
- Is there a lot of anger or erratic behavior when he/she is said “no” to sexually?
- Do you feel alone during your sexual encounters?
- Do you feel used, dirty or abandoned after sexual encounters?
- Is there a sense that he’s/she’s got his “fix” and now he’s better?
- Have they made promises to quit a behavior and failed?
- Do they have what looks like a double life?
If you believe by answering these questions that your spouse is a sex addict, you may want to make a counseling appointment. In a counseling appointment you can find solutions that have been helpful to many other spouses who have discovered this addiction.
By Douglas Weiss, Ph.D.