Attitudes about sex addiction typically fall into one of two camps. One camp acknowledges that sex addiction is a genuine disorder that has harmful consequences. The other camp points to the fact that “sex addiction” is not recognized as a diagnosable condition by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the “DSM”), and argues that sex addiction is merely a character weakness that can be controlled with willpower and self-discipline. Regrettably, this latter camp discourages individuals who obsess over sex from seeking treatment.
The debate over the validity of a diagnosis of sex addiction will continue, but if you are affected by any obsession with sex that is throwing your life out of balance, you can find assistance if you are first able to recognize and acknowledge the existence of a problem. As with other compulsions or addictions, the problem is characterized by a common set of signs and indicators.
Warning Signs of a Sex Addiction
First, ask yourself if you are living a double life. Do you go to any lengths to cover up activities that are typical of an addiction? Sex addicts frequently disassociate themselves from their excessive sexual activity in order to ease feelings of guilt or shame. Their disassociated self allows them to continue pursuing activities that their normal self would not condone. This type of dual existence is a common indicator of sex addiction.
Do you perceive other people in your life solely as objects to gratify your sexual desires? Sex addicts often have one-dimensional relationships that are characterized only by sex, with no aspects of the deeper connections that characterize healthy relationships. Any relationships that a sex addict is able to form will inevitably dissolve when the sex addict is unable to develop those deeper connections.
Do you structure other parts of your life to sustain your addiction to sex? Is your preoccupation with sexual activity the guiding force that you use to plan your daily routines and activities? As sex addicts sink deeper into their addictions, they are unable to focus on work or family life.
Are you participating in risky sexual activities with no regard to dangerous consequences? Sex addicts often take great risks with no precautions to prevent communicable diseases. They might patronize prostitutes or participate in sexual activities that are otherwise illegal, posing a risk of arrest and prosecution, and a lifelong brand as a “sex offender”.
Sex addicts often need to gratify their sexual desires several times per day, either alone or with others. They find that they have no control over these desires, and they feel excessive amounts of guilt or shame following every sexual encounter.
Get Help for Sex Addiction
You might not feel good about yourself if any of these descriptions apply to you, but the good news is that counselors and therapists have gained extensive experience with sex addiction and they can offer treatment to help you defeat this problem, even without a diagnostic category in the DSM.
If you are experiencing feelings of guilt or shame over your own sexual conduct and you are concerned that you have a problem, please call the Last Resort Recovery Center near Austin, Texas, at 512-360-3600. We can provide a confidential assessment and give you the assistance you need to address your problem and to develop a course of action to overcome it.