Sexual Addiction


Okay, we all know that there are varieties of addictions. Gambling, narcotics, alcohol, pornography are recognised addictions studied over the years. But is it a 'cop out' to claim to be addicted to sex?
When we examine the myth of "Sex as a Need", we shall look at this more closely. However, it is important to wade into the science at this point - to ask whether or not people can be legitimately addicted in a sexual manner and, if so, is this something men face?
The idea or objective is NOT to give men a "Get out of Jail free card" - to try to exonerate their bad behaviour by saying "he could not help himself".
Rather, the intention is to determine how devastating the actions in which we (willingly) engage can be and how they can impact us and our brains, leading to even more destructive behaviour which harms women and girls.

|A Process Addiction

According to Wikipedia, sexual addiction (sometimes called sex addiction) is a conceptual model devised in order to provide a scientific explanation for sexual urges, behaviours, or thoughts that appear extreme in frequency or feel out of one's control.

 

The term "sex addiction" is a controversial one as not all scientists are in agreement that it is a diagnosable illness or should be considered as such. However, a growing number of therapists are claiming that the same way that people can become addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling, they can become addicted to sex,  anything from Internet sex to obsessive masturbation to affairs.

 

Personalities like Tiger Woods, David Duchovny and Charlie Sheen have made international headlines for their behaviour which has been blamed on sex addiction. But persons from all walks of life have suffered the effects of what they claim is a sex addiction. They include politicians, clergy, businessmen and teachers.

 

Although there is no presence of an external substance like alcohol or narcotics, the sex addicted person experiences the production of chemicals such as dopamine in his brain in the same way. It is the internal chemical to which he forms an addiction. And just as the cocaine addict, he may risk life, family relationships, health, employment and reputation in order to get a "fix". (The movie, Shame, depicts this risk-taking behaviour remarkably well!)

British sex therapist, Paula Hall put it thus:-

"Although not a chemical addiction like alcohol or heroin, it's a "process addiction" like gambling, she says, with a biochemical element linked to the release of dopamine in the brain.

It's a compulsive need to seek out and follow a certain type of sexual behaviour. That behaviour varies but it's basically an anaesthetising behaviour, something you are doing in order to avoid dealing with something else.

It's a coping mechanism and it's totally and entirely out of control. You are continuing to pursue it in spite of the consequences, like losing your job, your status, your wife and your health.

It's a way of escaping from low self-esteem, feelings of anger and insecurity. It's not really about sex. It's driven by shame."

signposts point to addiction and to a way out of addiction

|Sex Addiction Hurts Relationships

Sex addiction, according to Dr. Joe Kort, is more about pain, trauma and loss of control, among other things. This supports what was said by Dr. Hall above and explains why some men who bury past traumas manifest with sex addictions and, in so doing, exploit, abuse and hurt the women in their lives.

When sex addiction is coupled with an addiction to pornography, behaviour can escalate from 'virtual cheating' to sexting to seeking out sex partners 'in real life', putting committed relationships in jeopardy. Tiger Woods and others come to mind. 

 

We encourage persons who may recognise that they are unable to control their use of pornography or other stimuli to seek professional help. Just as a person addicted to narcotics or alcohol may become violent or abusive when unable to self-medicate, sex addicts may act out and hurt their loved ones when not able to access sexual stimulation.

This may manifest in forced sexual intercourse, debasing their partners to secure a sexual 'high', manipulating their partners to have third parties join them for risky sexual encounters and introducing narcotics in their sex regimen for a greater 'high'. 

Such behaviours tend to violate the 'personhood' of your wives and reduce them to sex objects which is demeaning and insulting in a relationship.

|Break the Cycle

Some critics of this approach claim that persons are seeking to mask their bad behaviour behind a clinical diagnosis. However, in debunking myths about sex addiction several experts suggest that it does exist and gaining freedom is a real struggle.

There are several persons who claim to have experienced freedom from sex addiction which ruined their careers, family relationships and health. The solutions involved therapy and variations similar to the 12 step process of Alcoholics Anonymous.

An important component of the 12 step process is reliance upon a "higher power". Since persons are made up of 3 parts (often referred to as 'spirit, soul and body'), addressing the weaknesses in all 3 areas can lead to greater success in overcoming all forms of addictive behaviour.

Persons have found freedom through reconnecting with God in their faith and engaging more in personal and congregational worship and prayer. An important component to gaining freedom from sexually compulsive behaviour is to break the silence and ask those who are around you for help through therapy, counselling and faith.