What is sexual addiction?
Erroneously, many people have coined the term to describe an individual that acts in a promiscuously irresponsible. This is a huge misconception considering that sex addiction is a specific behavior disorder which describes an individual’s unusually high sex drive or one is obsessed with sex. Both the sexual act and the thoughts about it are what typically drive the thinking of a sex addict.
It is important to realize that the individual suffering with sex addiction typically engages in thinking that is “distorted.” Additionally, they tend to justify and rationalize their behavior as well as blaming others for all of their problems. And just like with alcohol and drug addiction, they either deny that a problem exists or concoct excuses to explain their actions. Despite the increased potential for either dangerous or negative consequences, a person with a sex addiction will engage themselves in numerous sexual activities.
Indicators of sex addiction
Typically, the sex addicted individual uses sexual activity as a “quick fix” for their addiction in much the same way that an alcoholic or drug addict consumes their favorite substance. They view their addiction as being a pain killer or tension reliever, using this “medicine” to relieve certain conditions such as:
- pain (emotional, mental, or physical)
- sleep disorders and related problems
- stress and tension
In most cases, as a person’s sexual addiction progresses and gets worse, there will be certain indicators or “red flags” indicating that the individual truly has a problem. Watch for any of the following 6 key warning signs if you feel a person has a sexual addiction issue:
- absence of or very little emotional attachment or satisfaction which result from their sexual encounters
- excessive periods of time spent planning out numerous sexual activities to the point where it begins to interfere with the individual’s everyday activities
- feeling powerless or unable to stop the addiction despite some very predictable consequences
- not being able to engage in a committed and loving relationship as well as being dependent upon that relationship to enhance feelings of self-worth
- obsessions with sexual activities which take over and dominate the person’s life including letting fantasies about sexual behavior that eventually interferes with their job performance
- strong feelings of guilt or shame regarding their sexual behavior
Additionally, sexual addiction oftentimes leads to participating in illegal activities such as exhibitionism, molestation, or obscene telephone calls. Ironically, the sex addict rarely becomes sex offenders.
The case involving Tiger Woods
This past Thanksgiving weekend (2009), world famous PGA professional Tiger Woods crashed his vehicle shortly after leaving his house in Florida. What followed would lead to what has become a huge scandal about the man and the possibility that he was a sex addict based on the numerous affairs he was accused of having prior to and while he was married. This past Friday (February 19th, 2010), in a very private, one-camera public announcement, the man admitted that he did have a problem, although he never used the terms “sex addict” or “sexual addiction” in his comments.
He offered his apologies his behavior and implored the press to leave his wife and children alone as they were not to blame. However, the question still remains to be answered both accurately and truthfully. So does Tiger Woods have a sexual addiction or was he just an unfaithful husband? During the time that elapsed between his vehicle crash and up to the time this content was written, Woods was accused of numerous scandalous actions which some people felt indicated that a sexual addiction was present.
On Monday, the 18th of January, 2010, the New York Daily News published an article indicating that Woods was currently rehabbing for sex addiction at a treatment center in Mississippi. The gentleman who wrote the article for the New York newspaper, Jose Martinez is a member of the staff as well as being the author of a book focusing on sexual addiction. A recovering sex addict, Benoit Denizet-Lewis, confirmed that the pro golfer is in fact in residence at a very luxurious facility in Hattiesburg, Mississippi known as the Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services.
The opponents of the concept stating that it is a real addiction oftentimes mock the thought and contend that it should not be classified as an addiction or addictive behavior pattern. Along with Martinez, numerous experts have stated that just like any other individual afflicted with sex addiction, Woods is not going to have any easy time of treatment and recovery from his condition. He was in residence with other individuals who most likely are not the caliber of a public figure like he is, and had to participate in all of the same treatment and recovery activities.
According to Denizet-Lewis, you can walk away from alcohol or drugs for a while so that you don’t have to see them. Conversely, this is not the case with sex addiction as your brain and your genitalia go with you everywhere you go. You also should remember that sex addiction is not only manifested in failed relationships and bad performance on the job or in society. The individual is also at high risk of being injured emotionally and physically.
Treating sex addiction
As with alcohol and drug addictions, the individual afflicted with a sexual addiction is usually in a state of denial regarding their problem. In order to treat the addiction, the person needs to admit that they do have a problem and seek out help for it. This behavior is quite similar to that of the alcohol or drug addict. With both alcohol and drug addiction, it usually takes a significantly dramatic event in order to convince the individual that they truly have a problem. So too is the case with sex addiction.
Sex addiction treatment focuses on controlling one’s addictive behavior as well as helping them to attain a healthier sexuality. Support groups are readily available to the addicted individual as well as other recovery “tools”, including:
- education regarding healthier sexuality
- family and/or marital counseling and therapy
- on-on-one private counseling
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