Frequently asked questions on sexual addictions:
Sex Addiction FAQ's
The obsessive and compulsive behavior in the area of sexuality that, in common vernacular, gets described with the term, "Sexual Addiction," is a complex and often confusing area as awash in psychological confusion as it is in moral and ethical judgments.
On the psychological side, the (very correct) removal of Sexual addiction from the DSM or ICD medical classifications of mental disorders was both very necessary and, at the same time, incredibly difficult for many struggling with sexual compulsivity to understand.
On the other hand, enormous harm has been caused by the moralistic religious judgments and shame based systems of control that mark the Church's almost myopic focus on the impulse control issues that represent less than 10% of the problem.
If you're looking for a path through that confusion towards a real sexual addiction treatment that has nothing to do with condeming lables or guilt based judgments, then Henze & Associates can offer you so much more:
What sorts of questions are often asked about sex addiction?
1. WHAT IS SEX ADDICTION?
Sex addiction is a state where a person thirsts again and again for that which can never satisfy. It involves seeing emotions and stresses as a problem to be fixed and then using sexual behaviours as a means of numbing them. The pursuit of this sexual behaviour/fantasy begins to take on a life of its own, takes up huge amounts of time and mental energy and becomes extremely hard to stop -- sometimes even for short periods of time.
2. WHY DO PEOPLE BECOME SEXUALLY ADDICTED?
The simplest answer is that they want to feel better. Physically they have conditioned their bodies to receive endorphins and enkephlines by repeatedly connecting a fantasy state with the orgasmic experience that provides these chemicals to their brain. Psychologically, the need to medicate or escape emotional pain can demand a pain killer, and sex provides the medicine. Spiritually, a person is filling up a God shaped hole. The addiction is a form of worship which comforts them, delights in them and is forever available and present. Most addicts can are trapped because of two or even all of the above reasons. This is why a specialist in sex addiction is the best route for recovery from sex addiction.
3. WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEX ADDICTION AND A HIGH SEX DRIVE?
This question has been asked at every conference I have been at over the years. People with high sex drives have sex, and the sex meets the needs for sex. It's not about meeting the needs for something else. A partner's disinterest in sex is not an abandonment or the loss of love/respect and some other sexual activity does not meet the needs for sex with the partner. Sex addiction simply is not about love -- it is about erasing emotions. If you experience emotions as a problem to be fixed, you may be dealing with an addiction.
4. CAN YOU BE ADDICTED TO MASTURBATION?
Yes - though it is important to realize that frequent masturbation is not necessarily sexual addiction. Most of our first sexual experiences are with ourselves and, for many years, are usually the most frequent. Masturbation becomes an addiction when it is compulsive, it is used to medicate emotion, it continues even when other opportunities for sexual expression are present and it begins to replace real relationships with other people.
5. WHAT ROLE DOES PORNOGRAPHY PLAY IN SEX ADDICTION?
When this question is asked, it usually refers to Erotica. Erotica, for many sex addicts, is essential to the addictive experience - especially when combined with masturbation. The addict lives in a fantasy world throughout their adolescence and they come to depend upon this cocktail of media driven fantasies and physical stimulation to meet their emotional and sexual needs. When truly pornographic materials are involved, feelings of rage rooted in revenge also feature highly in that cocktail.
6. CAN SOMEONE BE A SEX ADDICT AND NOT BE SEXUAL WITH THEIR SPOUSE OR PARTNER?
YES! (And more often then not!) Again, recognize that the sexually addictive actions are NOT about sexual intimacy -- and they are about not feeling either. Sexual intimacy makes people feel and, hence, the addict comes to prefer that which takes away feelings. In addition, the partner often comes to recognize that the sexual experiences they do have are not about intimacy and also comes to avoid such.
7. WHAT IS IT LIKE TO LIVE WITH A SEX ADDICT FROM A PARTNER'S OR WIFE'S PERSPECTIVE?
It is truly the most lonely place on earth. The person is right there, but you can not connect to the other's true self. Confusion over aloneness, unexplainable behaviours, not getting needs met and never being enough to satisfy the other is usually mixed with intense anger over being used as an object. Yet, also common is a deep sense of the softness and beauty present in the heart of the addict if it could only be brought to the surface.
8. CAN PARTNERS GET HELP EVEN IF THE SEX ADDICT DOESN'T?
Yes! (And we strongly encourage both partners to attend every session regardless.) While it must be stated that the sexual addiction was not your doing as a partner, there is so much that you can do to help and to avoid perpetuating the problem. Addiction starts in hiddenness and emotional silence during childhood or early adolescence, it grows over years and can bring pain to anyone. By choosing to deal with your pain, loneliness, anger and loss, you can model for your partner what a life without hiddenness looks like and begin the steps to change the relationship regardless of your partner's fear. If you would like an in-person, telephone or video counseling appointment call (403) 819-3545 to get setup.
9. IS THERE RECOVERY FOR SEX ADDICTION?
Yes, a thousand times yes! (both for heterosexual and homosexual strugglers) But, it isn't going to happen overnight and it is not going to happen without professional guidance. It takes hard work, it takes time and it takes a willingness to dramatically change thinking. Hearts can come out of hiding, friendships can grow, relationships can be so much better then you ever dreamed of and lives can be so much happier. I've been working in this field for over 13 years and I know what is available for those who take the steps to freedom and healing.
10. HOW DO YOU FIND A SEX ADDICTION SPECIALIST?
Finding a therapist who truly specializes in sex addiction is difficult. We have found telephone and video counseling to often be just as successful as office visits. We offer in-person, telephone or video counseling for those who desire recovery in a very professional and specific manner at: (403) 819-3545
11. IS THERE RESEARCH ON SEXUALITY AND SEX ADDICTION AVAILABLE?
There is research being done in the field of sexual addiction. See our Session Notes for more info.
12. CAN WOMEN BE SEX ADDICTED?
Yes! Properly understood, the levels of female sex addiction are almost certainly the same or even higher then those of men. A small percentage of the time, the behaviours are the same (masturbation, erotica, pornography, internet activity, anonymous encounters etc) as for men, but, a far higher percentage of the time, they focus more on fantasy, obsessive romantic attachments, compulsive affairs and the relentless force of the desire to be held in the hearts of all men -- whatever the cost to health, heart or dignity. For women, the roots are usually based in a family/societal structure that breeds deep patterns of silence about heart needs and there are practical, tried and proven solutions to get you on your way out of silence and to healing.
And, while the problem is NOT in any way a question of sexual addiction, we have worked with many women (and men) trapped in the sex trade and the adult film industry and the number of women seeking treatment and freedom from the bondage that industry creates is rapidly rising. You can get free and stay free!
13. IS THERE ANY WAY TO HELP OUR CHILDREN NOT BECOME SEXUALLY ADDICTED?
Yes! Generally sexual addiction comes out of homes where addictions (Sexual and otherwise) was present. Homes of addiction are generally not homes of healthy sexual information/modelling, homes of emotional intimacy or homes where any other kind of intimacy is all that well modeled either. While it is possible to address these issues in children directly, they generally respond much better when their parents begin to model all of the above and then combine such with healthy family connections and effective teaching about sexuality and relationships.