Presentation by: Rachel Lavergne
Intro: 1. Definition of this specific addiction, 2. Description of a typical individual with this disorder, 3. Prevalence, 4. Typical course of treatment utilized, 5. Frequency of relapse, 6. Thoughts about an individual with this addiction?, 7. Location/Contact information for a treatment facility for Sexual Addiction, and 8. References
Behavioral Addiction: Hyper Sexual Disorder or Sexual Addiction- According to Dr. Michael from Psychcentral, Sexual Addiction is a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts (Herkov, 2018). Addictions can develop from various possibilities such as trauma, biochemical abnormalities of the brain, genetic predispositions, social or environmental factors, etc. But based on these traits, not everyone does or will suffer from addiction. The addicted brain tricks the body by producing intense biochemical rewards which occurs when one partakes in self-destructive behaviors such as compulsive sexual acts or intense sexual thoughts (Herkov, 2018). When this occurs repeatedly, an addiction develops thus triggering the reward center of the brain and making a connection. Overtime, the brain will develop tolerance thus requiring the body to engage in more and more sexual deviant acts to satisfy those biochemical triggers. This translates into a sex addict’s preoccupation with sex and “exclusion of other interests, compulsive sexual behavior despite negative consequences and failed attempts to limit or terminate sexual behavior” (Herkov, 2018). According to Dr. Michael, people addicted to sex experience a great sense of euphoria by the act that goes beyond what would be considered as “normal” sexual behavior (Herkov, 2018). Addicts use sexual activity to “seek pleasure, avoid unpleasant feelings or respond to outside stressors, such as work difficulties or interpersonal problems” (Herkov, 2018).
• Symptoms: Experiences intense recurrent sexual fantasies, sexual urges, and sexual behavior with four or more of the following criteria:
1. Excessive time is consumed by sexual fantasies and urges, and by planning for and engaging in sexual behavior.
2. Repetitively engaging in these sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior in response to dysphoric mood states (e.g., anxiety, depression, boredom, irritability).
3. Repetitively engaging in sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior in response to stressful life events.
4. Repetitive but unsuccessful efforts to control or significantly reduce these sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior.
5. Repetitively engaging in sexual behavior while disregarding the risk for physical or emotional harm to self or others (Herkov, 2018).
6. The person experiences clinically significant personal distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning associated with the frequency and intensity of these sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior.
7. These sexual fantasies, urges, and behavior are not due to direct physiological effects of drugs or medications, or to Manic Episodes.
Specify if: Masturbation, Pornography, Sexual Behavior With Consenting Adults, Cybersex, Telephone or Anonymous Sex, or Other (Herkov, 2018).
Typically, individuals with this disorder look and act like “normal” people, but the only difference is what is occurring in their mind and how they act on those thoughts and impulses. Individuals are plagued with these intense and overwhelming thoughts and fantasies and in order to satisfy these ever increasing desires and cravings, they engage in overpowering sexual behavior. Their pursuit of that high can escalate into increasingly risky behavior if not treated, ie. from simple recurrent stimulation to multiple and frequent sexual partners, to other habits such as exhibitionism or habitual anonymous sex, to even developing a certain preference or fascinations and trying to repeatedly satisfy an insatiable desire. The worst part of addiction is reaching the extremes just to satisfy their cravings but become addiction itself is an insatiable craving it never goes away, thus negatively progressing until it becomes dangerous and risky (Herkov, 2018).
Prevalence: Statistics- Sexual addiction is an addiction that is not hard to develop. It would seem that people, in general, are fixated on sex so much so that 72 Million worldwide internet users visit adult sites per month. Also, about 12% of total websites are pornographic (4.2 Million websites). 42.7% Of internet users view pornography (Ekern, 2018). The National Council on Sexual Addiction Compulsivity estimated that 6%-8% of Americans are sex addicts, which is 18 million – 24 million people. More than 80% of women who have porn addiction take it offline. Women, far more than men, are likely to act out their behaviors in real life, such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs. However, men are more likely to use websites to satisfy their needs, eventually it could escalate if not treated. Men are also more susceptible to suffer from more risky behaviors such as not using sufficient protection, not getting tested, etc (Ekern, 2018).
Current treatment might include: 1. participating in a 12-step program, 2. going to an outpatient clinic, 3. engaging in aversion therapy, 4. using medications to stave off hypersexuality, and 5. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is used to help the patient control or repress the desires for a period of time (An Overview of Sexual Addiction). Relapse is a term often applied to substance addiction recovery, but the term also applies to the estimated three to five percent of adults in the U.S. who are living with sexual addiction. Like a relapse into alcohol or drug use, relapse with the sexual addiction recovery process is difficult, both emotionally and physically – but is also considered a normal element of the process as people work toward long-term recovery. In terms of sexual addiction, however, relapse can mean added struggles because the behavior may be viewed by some as a “bad decision,” rather than as the result of a complex set of factors, including brain-level factors that create addictive cravings for sexual behaviors (Relapse in Sexual Addiction: An Opportunity to Refocus on Recovery, 2016).
Research for sexual addiction seems to be one of the harder ones to recover from and maintain sobriety for. They are viewed as sexually devious and their disorder is considered a “fun” disorder to have if someone were to have an addiction. However, that is simply not the case. Sexual compulsion is set apart from other addictions because it is not just about sex. It involves our innermost conflicts, fears, and unconscious wishes (An Overview of Sexual Addiction). Sexual addiction is a kind of a “symbolic enactment” of deeply entrenched unconscious dysfunctional relationships with the person suffering from the sexual addiction and with others. Inadequate parenting or other environmental factors such as nature verses nurture and even biological or psychosocial factors that could have fueled the developmental process of this addiction (An Overview of Sexual Addiction).
What sets sex addiction apart from other addictions and makes it so persistent is that the subject of sex touches on our innermost unconscious wishes and fears, our sense of self, our very identity (An Overview of Sexual Addiction). Life of a sexual addict: gradually becomes very small, quality of life is effected and their self-freedom is impaired, energy is consumed by experiencing hours in the world of their addiction, and addiction demands higher costs the longer they live with it, they lose friends, lose interest in the activities or hobbies they love, perpetual fear of exposure, relationships with friends are ruined, normal sexual acts and partners pales in comparison to the allure and desire of experiencing the “high” of indulging in their sometimes dark sexual compulsions.
TREATMENT FACILITY- BEGIN AGAIN INSTITUTE: Begin Again Institute- Sex ; Porn Addiction Treatment Center. Location: 5277 Manhattan Cir #210, Boulder, CO 80303. Contact Information: phone- (720) 650-2388, email- [email protected]
Other concerns: The percentage of people who go to therapy or a 12-step program is quite small. The majority of sexual compulsives live in isolation, filled with feelings of shame. Almost all of the people who seek an initial consultation for sexual addiction (whether it be for compulsive use of prostitutes, phone sex, a fetish, cross dressing, or masochistic encounters with dominatrixes ) express that beneath the shame they feel in telling me their story, they also experience a sense of freedom that comes from finally being able to share with another human being the hidden, shameful, sexually compulsive acts that imprison them (An Overview of Sexual Addiction).
An Overview of Sex Addiction. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.scribd.com/document/78894514/An-Overview-of-Sex-Addiction
Ekern, J. (2018, June 4). Sexual Addiction Symptoms, Abuse Stats, Withdrawal Effects. Retrieved from https://www.addictionhope.com/sexual-addiction/
Herkov, M., Ph.D. (2018, February 04). What Is Sexual Addiction? Retrieved from https://psychcentral.com/lib/what-is-sexual-addiction/
J.A., ; J.O. (2018, September 20). Porn ; Sex Addiction Rehab Treatment Center. Retrieved from https://www.beginagaininstitute.com/?utm_source=bing;utm_medium=cpc;utm_campaign=Sexual Addiction: BMM;utm_term= sexual addiction treatment;utm_content=sexual addiction treatment
Relapse in Sexual Addiction: An Opportunity to Refocus on Recovery. (2016, February 10). Retrieved from https://www.recoveryranch.com/articles/relapse-in-sexual-addiction/