What is Sex Addiction?

Sex Addiction Explained

“Addiction is an illness of escape. Its goal is to obliterate, medicate, or ignore reality.”
-Patrick Carnes

The aftermath is to feel hurt and shame. For some addicts, the first and most difficult step to recovery is breaking through denial by admitting to themselves and others they have a problem with sexual relations.

Reality is the key to facing your truth and mental health; therefore, one must first get in touch with reality.

Distorted Reality and Sex Addiction

A distorted reality starts early within the family. An addiction will be present with those in the family and often co-addiction exists.

If you are out of control sexually, or are even questioning whether an addiction exists, get an evaluation by a professional.

Many variables need to be assessed individually to determine if sexual addiction exists. These variables are pleasure, brain function, control, exploitative or risk to self, and a psychological agenda.

Healthy versus Unhealthy Sexual Relationships

In healthy sexual relationships, pleasure and brain functions are normal when assessed. No brain dysfunction such as brain tumors, substance abuse or mania exists.

Healthy sex also has control, and no explorative or risk to self or psychological agenda.

The sexually addicted uses sex for attention, acceptance or love.

Healthy sex contains a control element; that is people choose to engage in sexual activity and do not feel hopeless or out of control.

They also don’t have a history of trying to stop the behavior only to return later, for example compulsive masturbating.

The reason for compulsive behavior is not pleasure driven, but rather stress reduction, increase positive mood or an attempt to heal a past trauma.

This severely limits the normal pleasure felt in healthy sexual behavior. There is a high risk of negative consequences, such as STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and legal implications.

Addiction Belief System

At the center or core of ourselves we hold beliefs that affect the decisions we make skewing the way we look at relationships.

The beliefs that are true for persons with sex addictions are:

  • I am basically a bad, unworthy person
  • No-one would love me as I am
  • My needs are never going to be met if I have to depend on others
  • Sex is my most important need

For healing to occur, the process must get at the “core issues for which addictions have become the solution.” (Patrick Carnes, Facing the Shadow: Starting Sexual and Relationship Recovery).

I recommend reading anything by Patrick Carnes, Ph.D.

In order to help yourself look at the reality of your addiction, do the three things listed below. This will give you insight and a great start to face the reality of your addiction.

  • List what you think are your problems
  • Review these problems and look at what secrets you have
  • What excuses or rationales do you use for your sexual behavior? Be honest

by Patrick Carnes