When you’re are in recovery and as you are learning more and more about yourself, you might begin uncover patterns in yourself that point to other addictions in your life. For instance, it’s common to uncover having a sexual addiction that accompanies the drug or alcohol addiction you’re aiming to heal.
Just like the hiding and denial that comes with addiction, sex is also a topic that is taboo. Frequently, its forbidden nature promotes secretly becoming obsessed with porn, excessive sexual activity, and fantasy.
Along the same lines, there is a secret obsession that happens with any addiction. For instance, when there is an overwhelming amount of thinking, worrying, and dreaming about drinking or getting high, there’s an indication that there might be a compulsion. You’re not only drinking but you’re thinking about drinking.
You’re planning your day so that you can drink. You’re planning your financial life so that you can be sure to have enough money to buy alcohol throughout the month. Fantasizing and daydreaming about your drug of choice frequently accompanies addiction.
This fantasizing and daydreaming can be at the heart of a sexual addiction. In fact, even the fantasizing can activate the brain’s reward system and begin the cycle of addiction. Those addicted to sex can experience a sense of euphoria, making sexual-related behavior more about pleasure seeking, just as taking drugs might lead to a high. Sexual addiction is not about intimacy; rather it is often about seeking pleasure and avoiding unpleasant emotions or interpersonal problems. Moreover, the pleasure experienced by engaging in sexual activity is often accompanied by guilt, shame, and remorse.
Signs of Sex Addiction
In fact, an addiction is often developing when sex is regarded as shameful, secretive, or abusive. An addiction with sex includes compulsive behavior where there is a loss of control and spending large amounts of time engaging in sexual-related activity to the point where you are neglecting social, academic, or familial responsibilities. You might find that an addiction is present if you see the following behavior in yourself:
- Obsessive thoughts about sex that disrupt functioning at school, home or at the work place.
- Inability to refrain from viewing pornography or engaging in sexual behavior
- Avoiding time with friends or other typical social activities to instead spend time on the computer or have sexual encounters.
According to the Sexual Recovery Institute, 40 percent of adults who are now in recovery for sexual addiction began in their adolescence. However, some adults admit that a problem with sex actually began earlier in life.
In some cases, this is due to child sexual abuse where sexual fantasy and obsession is a symptom of unresolved trauma. As a child moves into adolescence often any unresolved trauma becomes exacerbated and an obsession with sexuality might grow.
Research indicates that individuals addicted to sex often come from families in which there was abuse. Specifically, one study indicated that 82% of sexually addicted adults were sexually abused as children.
It’s important to note that sexual addiction is not normally associated with a manic episode, which is a distinct period of elevated mood. Although mania can sometimes include hypersexuality, an addiction is considered to be an ongoing obsession with sex that needs its own specific treatment.
Get Treatment for Sex Addiction
If you believe that you show the signs of an obsession, getting treatment is important! If you’re already in recovery, then you may already be in contact with a mental health professional whom you can speak to.
The dangers of sexual addiction include excessive sexual activity which can lead to unexpected pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and the intensifying of any unresolved emotions. Seeking professional mental health treatment is important if the above signs are evident.
The fact that sex is taboo can make it challenging to talk about it, especially if there are signs of an addiction. Yet, getting treatment, just like seeking drug treatment, is an essential part of recovery, health, and healing.
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