How to Find Help for Sexual Addiction
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The widespread availability of sexually based entertainment, coupled with an overall disintegration of cultural taboos surrounding sex has brought about a new form addiction within American society. Sexual addictions have emerged as one of many already existing compulsive behavior disorders.
People living with sexual addiction face many of the same difficulties as those affected by substance abuse addiction in terms of the mounting problems that result. When left untreated, a sexual addiction can spiral out of control not unlike the effects of ongoing drug and alcohol use.
Those who’ve lived with sexual addiction for a long time see the worst of what this condition can bring, as any form of addiction only gets worse with time. For this reason, it’s best to find help for a sexual addiction problem sooner than later.
Fortunately, anyone considering getting needed treatment help has a range of options from which to choose. While addiction does affect different people in different ways, certain treatment considerations should be taken into account to ensure a person receives the type of help he or she most needs.
Addictions thrive off of the “rush” users experience when indulging in the pursuit. More than anything else, this rush forms the basis for a pattern of destructive behavior that increases in frequency over time.
While drugs and alcohol may have a more direct impact on a person’s emotional and psychological state, certain types of activities can also produce the type of rush that drives addiction behaviors. Such is the case with sexual addictions.
According to the National Institutes of Health, sexually oriented compulsions fall under a category known as process-based addictions, along with gambling, shopping and computer addictions. Even in the absence of a chemical or substance, process-based addictions trigger the same types of biochemical changes inside a person’s brain.
With sex being a necessary part of the human experience, the overall treatment objective in sexual addiction treatment works to help addicts manage the behavior rather than eliminate the behavior altogether. This task entails getting to the underlying issues that drive and support a person’s sexual compulsions.
For most people struggling with addiction, the “drug” becomes a means for coping with everyday life stressors and essentially covering up troubling emotional issues in one’s life. Treatment works to help addicts replace these types of destructive coping behaviors with –
- A healthy mindset
- Healthy coping behaviors
- Healthy communication skills
As people struggling with sex-based addictions often experience a considerable degree of guilt and shame over their behavior, treatment approaches place a heavy emphasis on helping a person confront and work through these issues.
More oftentimes than not, communication problems, self-esteem issues and role expectations play a considerable role in supporting the addict’s destructive behaviors. Addressing these areas becomes a big part of the recovery process.
For someone who’s married or in a committed relationship, treatment objectives will likely need to incorporate the addict’s partner into the treatment process at some point. Over time, couples come to develop a more healthy sexual relationship as the addict learns to manage compulsive urges.
Sexual addiction treatment programs address various stages and aspects of addiction, with different programs focusing in different areas. Identifying the severity of a person’s addiction problem can go a long way towards finding the type of program that best addresses his or her needs.
Addiction severity can best be determined by the degree of damage caused by a person’s sexual compulsions. Damage caused may take the form of –
- Broken relationships
- Problems at work (due to sexual behaviors)
- Neglecting family obligations
- Health ramifications in terms of contracting an STD
As with any disorder, the effects of sexual addiction create increasing degrees of disorder in a person’s life. The degree of disorder present points to the severity of a person’s addiction problem.
Residential vs. Outpatient Treatment
In general, the more severe a person’s addiction problem the more structured the treatment program should be. Residential treatment offers the most structured treatment environment in terms of requiring a person to live at the facility for the duration of the program. Residential settings work best for someone with a long history of sexual addiction or in cases where one’s addiction behaviors have wreaked havoc in his or her daily life.
Outpatient programs offer a less structured treatment approach where participants live at home while attending scheduled treatment sessions. This type of program works best for someone who’s at the early stages of sexual addiction as well as for those who still have work and family obligations to meet.
Treatment considerations regarding the type and level of treatment a person needs have to do with other factors that may contribute to a person’s sexual addiction problem. Other factors at work may include –
- Mental illness
- A family history of mental illness
- Environmental or cultural influences
- Substance abuse issues
- A family history of substance abuse issues
It’s not uncommon for someone struggling with sexual addiction to be battling feelings of depression and/or anxiety on an ongoing basis. Likewise, someone with a family history of mental illness or substance abuse will likely have learned certain ingrained coping behaviors that fuel his or her sexual compulsions.
The presence of one or more of the above factors may warrant seeking a more structured treatment program as these issues tend to aggravate a person’s addiction-based tendencies.
For people struggling with severe or long-term sexual addiction problems, changes in a person’s brain chemistry can make it all the more difficult to manage addiction behaviors, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture. In this case, a treatment program may administer medication therapies to help restore a person’s brain chemistry back to normal.
While medication therapies are always optional, they do offer those battling long-term sexual addictions the best chance of a successful recovery outcome.
Even after completing a residential or outpatient program, a person may still require aftercare treatment to maintain ongoing success in recovery. Aftercare may take the form of –
- Family therapy
- 12-Step support groups
- Individual psychotherapy
- Group therapy
Once again, the severity of a person’s sexual addiction problem will likely determine how extensive his or her aftercare treatment should be.