Sex Addiction Treatment Therapy

A sex addiction is more than just looking at pornography or having a high sex drive. Sex addiction treatment addresses a very real and addictive struggle that is similar to any other addictive behavior. A sex addiction involves biological and behavioral components that push sexuality into the realms of compulsive behaviors that interfere with a person’s life and relationships. It may involve compulsive sexual thoughts or acts, struggles with intimacy, masturbation, phone sex, cybersex, escorts, prostitutes, affairs, strip clubs, voyeurism, and exhibitionism.

It’s ironic that in our increasingly sexualized culture, there seems to be a resistance to even identifying sexual addiction. Even the American Psychiatric Association (APA) refuses to provide any diagnosis or guidance for sex addiction treatment. So if you’re wondering whether you’re dealing with a sex addiction here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you able to stop, resist, or control the impulses to engage in sexual acts?

  • Do you find yourself regularly having more sex and with more partners than you intended?

  • Are your sexual behaviors or thoughts about sexual behaviors increasingly taking more and more of your time?

  • Is a significant amount of your time and energy spent pursuing sex, being sexual, or recouping from sexual experiences?

  • Are you becoming increasingly focused on the preparation and anticipation of your sexual activity?

  • Do you engage in sexual behavior regardless of the negative impact it has on you?

  • Is your sexual activity keeping you from following through on your responsibilities for work, home, school, friends?

  • Do you feel a need to continue increasing the risk or intensity of the sexual experience to be satisfied?

Maybe you identify with these behaviors or compulsions, or maybe these describe your partner or a loved one.  But if you think that those seeking sex addiction treatment are mostly men, you might be surprised to find that sex addiction is a problem for both men and women. While women seek sex addiction treatment less often, those who do have and average of 22 sex partners compared to 32 on average for men.

But sex addiction treatment often goes beyond the addict to include the friends and loved ones around them who are affected. The large majority of sex addicts are in committed relationships and have a history of cheating. While a sex addict often leads a secret double life, when they are discovered, it usually has a devastating impact on the partner. About 80% or partners develop depression, 60% developing eating disorders, and 7 out of 10 get brought into swinging activities with the addict partner.

Sex Addiction Treatment Addresses the Underlying Causes

Sex addiction usually involve parts of at least some of the following causes:


Sex addiction often goes together with other psychological conditions, such as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), bipolar disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, etc. Sexual release becomes a tool to alleviate the build up of stress and anxiety and feel good for a moment.


Sexual release creates strong neuro-pathways in pleasure areas of the brain. These are very similar to the rewarding response the brain registers for drug use. This can change the brains neuro-pathways over time, making the brain increasingly dependent on sexual behavior as the sole source of pleasure with a decrease in the ability to stop or delay sexual behavior.


Low self worth, difficulty coping with painful emotions, and sexual abuse are often pain and fears that a sexual release soothes for a moment. It may not even be the actual sexual behavior that matters as much as the underlying meaning a person takes from it, such as being desirable to others.

How Sex Addiction Treatment Can Help

While there are several factors that contribute to a sex addiction, I often see at the root of it all is a lack of trust and connection in relationships. Being relational creatures, that void will be filled or “medicated” with other behaviors to create temporary connection through sexual experiences, real or imagined. This is where a sex addiction therapist can help.

Sex addiction is usually more secretive, leaving a person isolated with their struggle. Compared to other addictions, sex addiction holds more shame and is kept more hidden. Even talking to others about being in sex addiction treatment, a positive thing, can be a source of shame. However, the relationship with a therapist provides a safe place to start being open about your addiction and receive encouragement and accountability toward change. Like other addiction, breaking free of sex addiction involves cycles of relapse and remission so it’s helpful to have a therapist walking with you through the process.

For sex addicts, sex is often a temporary way to feel close to someone without intimacy, or even to avoid intimacy with a real person through pornography or masturbation. The therapy relationship provides a safe and supportive environment to learn and put into practice the skills to develop meaningful, connected relationship. With this ability a person can make meaningful connections with others that allows them to bring their sexuality into a relationship to enhance the connection and intimacy, not replace it.

People struggling with sexual addiction often have difficult historical hurts and fears yet to be worked through. The avoidance of these issues can drive an addiction to escape the feelings. Therapy is a place to face this “unfinished business” and lay it to rest once and for all, giving you freedom to choose sexual behaviors rather than being dependent on them.

In sex addiction treatment is not so much about stopping sexual behaviors as it is about associating sex with positive, connected relationships by freeing the individual to be more available and present for relationship.