Any addiction, whether it be drugs, food, shopping, smoking, or sex can be difficult to overcome. Because addiction to anything is usually only a symptom of an underlying problem, people frequently cannot admit to themselves what is driving the addiction or conceive of a way to overcome it. Sexual addiction can be one of the most powerful and difficult to overcome. The key to overcoming sexual addiction is admitting the addiction, recognizing the underlying problem, and controlling the addiction.
Sexual addiction takes many forms, from pornography to internet sex to a constant need for gratification. Because sex is one of the main sources of pleasure for healthy adults, it can be hard to recognize when enjoyment of sex has tipped over into sexual addiction. An addiction is defined as a behavior taking over other aspects of a person’s life or becoming an obsession or compulsion. A sexual addict, like many addicts, will start to forego other pleasures and pastimes for sexual gratification. Sexual addiction can destroy marriages, lose jobs, cause health problems, and lead to criminal charges. The first step in overcoming sexual addiction is recognizing that a problem exists.
A sexual addict will frequently choose some brand of sex over other things that formerly provided enjoyment or satisfaction. Some of the things sex addicts push aside for the addiction include work, families, friends, hobbies, and sex with loving partners. Sex addicts frequently get to the point where only certain types of sexual gratification calms the obsession or satisfies the compulsion. It might be pornography, internet sex or chat rooms, prostitutes, self gratification, or a constant need for sex. Whatever sexual compulsion that characterizes the addiction becomes the only sexual outlet that provides pleasure for the addict.
Sexual addicts like most other addicts are trying to fill an emotional void. Something is missing in their emotional lives and they have found a way to fill the void with sex. Recognizing and admitting the problem frequently requires professional help or at the very least the help of a support group. Professional therapy or membership in some type of support group is usually the first step towards recovery. There are support groups similar to alcoholics anonymous that can offer ongoing support and help in recognizing the underlying problems driving sexual addiction.
Once a sexual addiction is identified and admitted, an addict faces a lifetime of recovery, lapses, temptations, and gaining and maintaining control. Twelve step programs offer support, sponsorship, and a judgment free environment to discuss addictions and the underlying problems. Like overcoming any addiction there is no quick fix for sexual addiction. Websites such as Sex Addicts Anonymous offers valuable sexual addiction information and sources to find local, online, or telephone support meetings. The twelve step programs offered in these support groups give sufferers a framework to recognize the triggers for addictive behavior, resume former pleasurable activities, and once again allow the pleasure and satisfaction gained from friends and family, and partners to calm the obsession and override the addictive compulsion. Through support and attendance at group meetings sexual addicts can begin to modify their behavior and overcome the addiction.
The path to overcoming sexual addiction starts with identifying and admitting a problem. Sexual addicts then can move on to controlling the addiction through professional therapy or support groups. Like all addicts, sexual addicts will face a lifetime of recovery, but it is possible to overcome sexual addiction with the right support and reconnect with the life that was pushed aside by the addiction.