Sexual addiction came under fire recently as a slew of VIPs, who are reportedly sexual offenders, checked themselves in inside expensive rehabilitation centers claiming they’re plagued by the sexual addiction to the outraged cry of the public. Even among doctors and therapists, the hotly debated question is – IS SEXUAL ADDICTION REAL? Or is it just an uncomplicated scapegoat for celebrities and other royalties, sexual offenders whose acts have been exposed?
The recent surge of news about celebrities, politicians and Hollywood bigwigs accused of various sex offence cases around the country puts hypersexuality – better known as sexual addiction – under the limelight. While these VIPs – House of Cards star Kevin Spacey and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein among them – and their therapists insist that they’re suffering sex addicts, the public cries foul saying they’re just making lame excuses to cover their sex crimes. Even therapists and medical experts are at odds about this condition.
Nowadays, the role of parents has become extra challenging and strenuous. The teenagers of today’s generation have several issues that make it difficult for the parents to raise them. One of the problems that parents encounter is dealing with a teenager that has a sexual addiction.
Finding out that you have a sexual addiction can be frustrating. It can turn your world upside down. There will be days when you could not stop thinking how this habit can affect the way your loved ones see you. You would feel scared about what may happen in the future. At the same time, it will be difficult for you to address the problem right away. It may seem that the world is coming to an end, but the truth is that you can still get over that addiction.
Abraham Maslow explained that sex is a physiological need and relevant to human survival. True to its statement, without engaging in sexual acts, the human species will become extinct.
Nonetheless, this behavior can also be considered as an abnormal manifestation of a mental problem where in the sexual acts become more incessant and occurring anytime, place and with other persons other than one’s partner, not to exhibit love but more on the release of inhibitions. Psychologists link it to a history of sexual abuse such as rape, child molestation, or mood disorders.
Based on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, sex is considered a basic human need. Both men and women desire for it more than others, even though sex is normally seen as something natural. The excessive preoccupation with sex might be disruptive to one’s everyday life. A person with increased desire for sexual acts is said to have a sexual addiction.
Like any addiction, a sexual addiction is not easy to get rid of. It changes the way someone thinks, acts, and reacts, and the addiction will change that person forever. Also not unlike other addictions, the road to getting “sober” for the sex addict can make a person stronger than they were before and fill them with the power and self-respect they need, such is the belief of an organization called Ready 4 Change. Staying sober once you get there is the last tough part of getting clean, so here are some healthy habits and lifestyle changes for the reformed sex addict.
It is always good to have someone who cares about you by your side through the ups and downs, no matter who that someone is. When going through hard times, you need a person to help you back up. When going through the good times, it is nice to have someone to enjoy it or share it with. When someone wants to accomplish a goal, it is just as important to have a friendly face at his/her side through that as well. An accountability partner can be the person who gives you that last push to get you to achieve your goal. Having a partner to keep you honest while recovering from an addiction is almost necessary. A person who knows exactly what your weak points are can be the strength you don’t have to help you resist the temptation to give in. While, yes, it can be extremely tough to open up to someone about a sexual addiction, it will be worth it when you’re close to breaking a clean streak and in need of someone to talk you out of it.
Identifying Emotions and Knowing Your Limits
Oftentimes, emotions will trigger the problem behavior(s) in addicts, and this can be the easiest way for someone to fall back into the addiction. Because strong emotions and mental turmoil like depression, anxiety, and loneliness can act as triggers for the addict, they are definitely something to watch out for. The problem behaviors of a sexual addiction are usually a way to cope with those emotions. By finding alternate ways to handle anxiety, depression, and loneliness, it can become increasingly easier to resist the temptation to succumb to the urges brought on by the addiction.
In dealing with depression and anxiety, there are many treatments. While medications for these can be greatly beneficial, even doing things like going to counseling/therapy, exercising, meditating, or talking to friends and family can also help with these mental health issues. As mentioned above, having someone to keep you accountable can make all the difference in maintaining sobriety as well as helping with feelings of loneliness. The common triggers aren’t going to be everyone’s triggers, thus it is important to know what makes you want to give in. Sex addiction covers many categories of behaviors, habits, and preferences. Because of that, there can be specific-to-you triggers and temptations (outside of emotions and mental health problems) that must also be taken seriously. These can be images, sounds, people, etc., so it is important to be aware of the ones that can act as triggers for you.
Lastly, recovering and former addicts should always remember that they are only human. It is vital that those who are healing as well as those who have been clean for years forgive themselves when they slip. The harder you are on yourself, the more discouraged you become and the easier it is to forget why you started the journey to sobriety to begin with. Make it a habit of reminding yourself of the reasons you are attempting to beat the addiction. Encourage, be encouraged by others, and stay strong. The road to healing isn’t supposed to be easy. It is a challenge and one that can be overcome.
The science behind memorization, learning, and similar functions in the brain are familiar to most people. School has taught most of us about neurons and how messages use them to travel throughout the brain. Most of us are also aware that the more a neuron is used (repetition of a behavior or thought), the stronger the connection becomes. This is when memorization, second-nature, and habits become real and lasting, as long as those neurons are being used often.
Now think of how addictions form and the similarities between creating a habit and becoming addicted to something. An addiction changes the brain in that the connections become stronger, the behavior becomes a habit, something the person becomes used to on a regular basis. Porn addiction is dangerous for just that reason. Viewing graphic sexual images and videos repeatedly creates pathways in the brain that only strengthen and change the brain for the worse.
So you’ve found out that your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse has a sexual addiction. Now, this could mean a variety of things (excessive viewing of pornography, infidelity, etc.), but it doesn’t really matter at this point because the bottom line is that it is an addiction, a disease, and an extremely damaging one at that. For some, this could be the end of the relationship because of the severity of the addiction and its effects on both people. For those who want to make this relationship work despite the struggles of one half, it is an uphill battle that will be difficult for both partners. There are solutions to the problems, tips for the tough times, but in the end, it is how the couple works together that will determine whether they make it through the addiction or not.
Like any addiction, a sexual addiction is a tough challenge to overcome. The damage a sexual addiction can do to one’s mental health is enough to motivate someone to want to change his or her behaviors. Because it is such a difficult thing to overcome an addiction and all of the bad habits associated with it, it is important to create new and healthier habits to replace them. For many, mantras are great for reinforcing ideas and goals, reminding the healing addict why he or she is trying to quit, and encouraging/motivating when it is more difficult to resist the temptations.