Updated: May 24, 2019
Sex addiction is a serious issue for anyone that experiences it, and it may have serious consequences for the individual and their family. What can you do to manage this issue?
Sex addiction is a very real problem, but is unfortunately one that is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association in their manual for diagnosing, the DSM-5. Many of the arguments surrounding it's exclusion have to do with diagnosing potentially natural behaviors that are not actually issues that need to be changed. Try telling this to anyone that has experienced the chronic relapsing, guilt and shame ridden experience that is sex addiction. As helping professionals, our only recourse is to use other coding manuals like ICD-10 to bill for the treatment of this issue. If you plan to pay privately, it is less of an issue. However, even using ICD-10, there are no formal diagnostic criteria. This is a problem that is typically remedied by applying substance use disorder diagnostic criteria. Viewing addiction as one unified brain disorder process makes this possible, and makes treatment much easier.
Interaction with Substance Use
Sex addiction may be an issue that is experienced simultaneously with substance use. They could both be their own separate addiction, or one could be a substitute in the absence of the other. This is called cross-addictive behavior. Working for inpatient substance use treatment facilities for many years, this is something we have seen over and over again. This behavior is at times primary and it flies under the radar due to substance use being the main focus in this setting. If you are acting out on both behaviors and are curious what your more pressing issue is, think about stopping all of these behaviors at the same time. Which one of these causes the most distress and panic? That may be your main problem. With sex, you need to be careful to not think about stopping sex altogether, only the problematic behavior, whether it’s one night stands or pornography. Similar concepts apply to addictive behaviors like food, where abstinence isn't possible, only abstinence from certain food related behaviors.
What are your treatment options? Well, first and foremost we recommend counseling. Meeting with a professional regularly to formulate and carry out a plan of action to make life style change is extremely helpful. In the event that there is another individual involved who is affected, such as a partner, we recommend couple’s counseling in addition to individual counseling. The partner may wish to participate in their own counseling as well. Lastly, we recommend counseling groups or 12-step-based meetings for sex addiction. Once such fellowship is Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous (SLAA), a totally free fellowship for those struggling with sex addiction. For the family, we recommend a family-based support group, like S-Anon. Equipped with these resources and ready to make change, you are well on your way to recovery, whether you are an individual, partner, or a family.
At Independent Recovery, we want to help you with any behavioral-based addiction you may be struggling with. If you want more information or would like a free consultation, reach out to us on our Get Started page.