Whether you or someone you know is struggling with a sex addiction, knowing the signs to look for and how to get help may make all the difference. An increasingly devastating mental and physical illness that is growing in prevalence is sexual addiction. Once relegated to the tabloids and headlines, sex addiction is a serious illness that can be debilitating and difficult to overcome. As mental health professionals continue to understand this mental health struggle, methods for treatment and eventual freedom are continuing to emerge.
Those suffering from ongoing sexual addiction can find everyday activities difficult to engage in and may experience themselves withdrawing from individuals with whom they once enjoyed time with. As a sexual addiction worsens over time, sufferers may experience a growing need to act on their desires and impulses – which can impact their personal lives and health. Some may also experience issues with anxiety, depression, and other severe mental illnesses.
As the symptoms and struggles of mental health and sexual addiction continue to grow, it can have tragic impacts on one’s health. If you are concerned that you or someone you know is suffering from sexual addiction, knowing the signs and how to get help can mean the difference between a thriving life and debilitating daily suffering. Fortunately, there is hope. Read below to learn more and discover more about sexual addiction, the consequences of this disease, and how you can begin to find hope once more with the help of the team at Novus Mindful Life.
What Is Sexual Addiction?
When you think of someone being labeled as a “Sex Addict,” you may picture a caricature of an individual who cannot control their sexual impulses. However, sexual addiction – like any addiction – entails many deeply-rooted issues that can range in severity. Sexual addiction has not received a designation as a diagnosable condition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). However, as more individuals come forward reporting the symptoms of sexual addiction, counselors and mental health therapists continue to develop a working understanding of this illness. In general, sexual addiction can be defined as someone lacking the ability to control or inhibit a variety of sexual thoughts, impulses, and raw urges to act upon sexual desires. This is not to say that sexual impulses are unnatural.
In fact, a healthy and thriving sex life that occurs in a consensual relationship can be a great gift and way to express love for another individual. However, those suffering from sexual addiction will often find themselves unable to overcome the urge to take part in these impulses in an excessive way. In many cases, the need to act on sexual desire inhibits an individual’s ability to lead a thriving and healthy daily life. Many mental health professionals have discovered similarities between sexual addiction and chemical or opioid addiction. For someone who is suffering from sexual addiction, the need for sexual stimulation can be compulsive and obsessive.
From thoughts to actions, a person struggling with sexual addiction may find that they feel the constant need for sexual arousal to escape painful emotions. Sexual arousal becomes the primary coping mechanism for any uncomfortable feeling or mood. When sexual arousal becomes the only outlet to cope is often followed by, a number of consequences.
The Potential Consequences of Sexual Addiction
Those who are struggling with sexual addiction may experience a variety of impacts on their lives. Ranging in severity from nuisance to life-altering, sexual addiction has the potential to drastically alter one’s ability to live a productive and successful life. Some of the consequences of sexual addiction are:
- losing employment
- legal consequences
- your health or your partner’s health put at risk
- losing your marriage or relationship
- feeling depressed and anxious
- feeling empty inside
- shame, hopelessness, and despair
- spiritual bankruptcy
- financial difficulties
Those trapped in sexual addiction may find that they change and alter their daily activities in such a way that they have access to outlets for their sexual desires. This behavior may have negative consequences both physically and mentally. Fortunately, there is hope for those who wish to overcome their sexual addiction and reclaim control of their lives.
By working closely with a trained and experienced counselor such as those at the team at Novus Mindful Life Institute, you can take the steps necessary to start walking in freedom from sexual addiction and reclaim your life. When it comes to finding healing, the first step is to understand the signs of sexual addiction – and when it may be necessary to seek professional mental help.
Know The Signs of a Sex Addiction
Sexual addiction can manifest itself in many different ways, both physical and emotional. It takes a healthcare professional to make a clear diagnosis, but here are some signs that can point to potential sex addiction: Obsessing On Sexual Thoughts & Fantasies Those who are struggling with sexual addiction often report that sexual thoughts fill their minds regularly. Regardless of their situation or circumstances, these individuals may find themselves contemplating sexual activity or compulsively thinking about sex or sexual pursuits.
These ongoing thoughts can disrupt the normal course of life and can become fantasies that interfere with their job, family, and normal activity. Engaging in an unhealthy amount of time on sexual outlets such as pornography can be a sign of increasing addiction. Speaking with a trained professional about compulsive sexual behavior and pornography use can help you understand whether a particular thought pattern or behavior is healthy – or a sign of deeper addiction.
Anxiety, Depression, & Shame
One myth about sexual addiction is that acting out on one’s sexual compulsions leads to a life of pleasure and joy. Unfortunately, those who report symptoms related to a sexual addiction often report struggles with anxiety and depression. Without the ability to work through their needs and find an outlet for their desires, individuals may find that they suffer from debilitating shame and anxiety. Those who act on the urges may also feel their shame lead to a place of self-loathing and depression. These thoughts can increase the chances that an individual struggles with feelings of isolation and fear and potentially lead to suicidal thoughts.
Withdrawing From Activities & Other Individuals
Sex addicts often find that their need to fixate on sexual activity causes them to withdraw from activities and people that they once enjoyed. Friends and family who were once a strong support structure are suddenly difficult to be around, leading to further struggle without help. Social withdrawal can lead to further isolation where individuals increasingly engage in sexual activity and impulse. This withdrawal can also reinforce feelings of depression and anxiety, which can lead to a sense of hopelessness that freedom from addiction is possible.
For those suffering from sexual addiction, the need to masturbate excessively can be an early sign of addiction. However, this should not be confused with one’s desire to masturbate as part of healthy sexual exploration. Masturbation can be a normal and healthy way to explore one’s sexuality and express a sexual drive, but those who are struggling with addiction will find that their need to masturbate is compulsive, obsessive and can lead to physical pain or discomfort. Masturbation can become the primary way an individual copes with difficult moods and feelings and a reason to seek help from a trained professional.
Increasingly Risky or Inappropriate Sexual Behavior
Sex addicts may find themselves pushing the boundaries on their sexual beahvior to find a new “high” to satisfy their needs. Sexual addiction can often lead to risky and inappropriate behaviors with others, such as exhibitionism, public sex, and unprotected sex. Sexual addicts often report that their exploits lead to illnesses such as sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and unplanned pregnancy. This can raise the risk of health problems for themselves and their partners.
Infidelity With Spouses Or Partners
Sex addicts may also find that their spouse or partner does not satisfy their ongoing need for sexual stimulation and may seek an outlet elsewhere. Unfortunately, this can lead to an individual engaging in infidelity with their spouse or partner as sexual addiction progresses. Sexual addiction will continue to push the boundaries on what is considered appropriate by the individual and those they live with. From one-night-stands to ongoing sexual trysts, sex addicts will often continue pushing the boundaries on infidelity until they are caught or confronted.
Increasingly Sacrificing Values and Beliefs
In some cases, those who suffer from sexual addiction may find that their impulses lead them to disregard their own values and beliefs. . Those who find themselves unable to control their sexual behavior can find themselves engaging in sexual activity that crosses their own belief system. Often they find that they have betrayed their spouse or partner, spent money where they did not want to, and have unwanted relationships.
Is Treatment Possible For Sexual Addiction?
One question that those who may fear that they or someone they love is suffering from sexual addiction is whether there are treatments available that lead to freedom from their struggles. Fortunately, the answer is yes – when treatment is sought from a trained professional with experience in helping treat sexual addiction. Many feel that they can potentially free themselves from their struggle on their own. Unfortunately, willpower alone will not truly free someone from sexual addiction.
While they may be able to convince themselves to stop acting on their impulses for a time, they will likely relapse without any hope for long-term healing. Those who struggle with sexual addiction often find that they are able to stop when they are caught or face a moment of crisis, only to fall back into their habits or impulses once the moment passes. What one needs in order to overcome their addiction is a set of coping mechanisms and treatment that will help them rewire their brains and think differently about their sexual addictive behavior.
Those who are struggling with sexual addiction can benefit from the help and support of professionals who are equipped to teach healing techniques and build a solid recovery plan. A professional sexual addiction therapist can help individuals discover the tools that they need to make the true changes toward real, long-term healing. Therapists who are trained as Certified Sexual Addiction Therapists have been educated in the latest understanding of sexual addiction, and have extensive training in sexual addiction treatment.
Find Treatment For Sexual Addiction With Novus Mindful Life
As seen above, the impacts of the symptoms of sexual addiction can cause a fast and deterioration of one’s personal life and health. Those who are suffering from sexual addiction may wonder if there is any way to escape the constant need to act on their impulses and find freedom. Fortunately, as sexual addiction becomes increasingly prevalent in our world, therapists and counselors are increasing their treatments for this mental illness. From medical help to mental health services, there are a variety of ways that those caught in the grips of sexual addiction can find hope. One of the most effective ways to help those suffering from sexual addiction is to work with a licensed mental health professional. The team at Novus Mindful Life has years of experience working with individuals journeying through sexual addiction.
With a variety of mental health treatment options, sex addicts can begin taking healthy steps toward healing that offer long-term results. Not only can counseling and therapy help individuals process through the issues related to sex addiction, but proper therapy can also treat a variety of underlying issues such as anxiety, depression, and obsessive behaviors. With a variety of treatment methods available, a consistent commitment to seeking help can take someone suffering from sexual addiction for hopelessness to healing quickly. If you or someone you love is concerned about potential sex addiction, contact the team at Novus Mindful Life Institue today.
Our team of trained counselors and mental health professionals are ready to help you walk toward freedom from sexual addiction and find hope for tomorrow.