Sexual addiction is defined as any sexually-related, compulsive behavior which interferes with normal living and causes severe stress on family, friends, loved ones, and one's work environment. Sexual addiction has been called sexual dependency and sexual compulsivity. By any name, it is a compulsive behavior that completely dominates the addict's life. Sexual addicts make sex a priority more important than family, friends, and work.
"Like an alcoholic unable to stop drinking, sexual addicts are unable to stop their self-destructive sexual behavior. Family breakups, financial disaster, loss of jobs, and risk to life are the painful themes of their stories.
Sex addicts come from all walks of life - they may be ministers, physicians, homemakers, factory workers, salespersons, secretaries, clerks, accountants, therapists, dentists, politicians, or executives, to name just a few examples. Most were abused as children - sexually, physically, and/or emotionally. The majority grew up in families in which addiction already flourished, including alcoholism, compulsive eating, and compulsive gambling. Most grapple with other addictions as well, but they find sex addiction the most difficult to stop.
Much hope nevertheless exists for these addicts and their families. Sex addicts have shown an ability to transform a life of self-destruction into a life of self-care, a life in chaos and despair into one of confidence and peace."
- Patrick J. Carnes, Ph.D.
Dr. Carnes estimates three to six percent of the population are facing sexual addiction. Research by Dr. Carnes shows that approximately 20 - 25% of all patients who seek help for sexual dependency are women. (This same male-female ratio is found among those recovering from alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and pathological gambling.)
WHAT DEFINES A SEX ADDICT?
No single behavior pattern defines sexual addiction. Some behaviors that can take control of an addict’s life and lead to unmanageability include: compulsive masturbation, compulsive heterosexual and homosexual affairs and/or relationships, pornography, prostitution, exhibitionism, voyeurism, indecent phone calls, patronizing massage parlors, topless bars or sex clubs. Even the healthiest forms of human sexual expression can turn into self-defeating behaviors. While an actual diagnosis for sexual addiction should be determined by a mental health professional certified to treat sexual addiction, the following behavior patterns can indicate the presence of sexual addiction. Individuals who see any of these patterns in their own life, or in the life of someone they care about, should seek professional help.
• Acting out a pattern of out-of-control sexual behavior.
• Experiencing severe consequences due to sexual behavior, and an inability to stop despite these adverse consequences.
• Ongoing desire or effort to limit sexual behavior or unexplained loss of sexual interest
• Sexual obsession and fantasy as a primary coping strategy.
• Regularly increasing the amount of sexual experience because the current level of activity is no longer sufficiently satisfying.
• Severe mood changes (anxiety, depression, anger, suicidal thoughts) related to sexual activity.
• Inordinate amounts of time spent obtaining sex, being sexual, and recovering from sexual experiences.
• Neglect of important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of sexual behavior.
• Out of control spending or debt due to sexually acting out
• Secret online behaviors at home or workplace.
• Multiple affairs or one-night sexual encounters.
SEXUAL ADDICTION vs OTHER ADDICTIONS
Sexual addiction can be understood by comparing it to other types of addictions. Individuals addicted to alcohol or other drugs, for example, develop a relationship with their “chemical(s) of choice” – a relationship that takes precedence over any and all other aspects of their lives. Addicts find they need drugs merely to feel normal.
In sexual addiction, a parallel situation exists. Sex – like food or drugs in other addictions—provides the "high" and addicts become dependent on this sexual high to feel normal. They substitute unhealthy relationships for healthy ones. They opt for temporary pleasure (instant gratification) rather than the deeper qualities of "normal" intimate relationships.
Sexual addiction follows the same progressive nature of other addictions. Sexual addicts struggle to control their behaviors, and experience despair over their constant failure to do so. Their loss of self-esteem grows, fueling the need to escape even further into their addictive behaviors.
WHAT IS A CERTIFIED SEX ADDICTION THERAPIST?
Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT) is a designation given to Licensed Therapists who have completed the intense certification training program offered through the International Institute for Trauma and Addiction Professionals (IITAP).
The CSAT program is fast-becoming the industry's standard certification for all therapists working with individuals who suffer from addictive and compulsive sexual behaviors. It is designed to provide formal knowledge and training in the task-centered approach to the treatment of sexual addiction and sexual compulsivity. The CSAT designation provides a professional with the recognition as an expert in the field of sex addiction treatment and participation in an international referral network. It is IITAP's role to facilitate the CSAT Certification Process, as well as other educational programs.”
Source – IITAP: For more information regarding qualified professionals in the field of sexual addiction visit www.iitap.com