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What is Sexual Addiction?

• Defining Sexual Addiction

Sexual addiction is defined as engaging in compulsive sexual behavior and/or obsessive sexual fantasy despite the fact that there are serious adverse consequences in a major life area.  Professional status, reputation, physical health, financial security, relationship stability, family life, and emotional and spiritual well-being may all be risked in the pursuit of a sexual high.  Despite promises to self and others, the sex addict is unable to stop the self-destructive downward spiral.

• More is Never Enough

Like alcohol to an alcoholic or cocaine to a drug abuser, sex and fantasy function very much as a drug for the sex addict, producing the same powerful euphoria and the same deep depression and despair.  As the addiction progresses, the sex addict increasingly loses control over how often and even with whom he or she will be sexual.  Any sexual behavior may potentially become the focus of the addict’s compulsivity, and escalation into behaviors never tried before is common.

• Out of Control

This loss of control is a deeply shaming and frightening experience, which drives the sex addict deeper into secrecy and isolation.  Living a double life means that the sex addict becomes less and less able to tolerate authentic intimate contact with the people in his or her life who matter most.  Productivity at work, social and family life, and financial prudence all become secondary as sexual behavior become the central organizing principle of the sex addict’s life.

• The Vicious Cycle of Shame and Sex

Compulsive sexual behavior, the cause of the addict’s despair and dysfunction, eventually becomes the sex addict’s only way of coping with the pain and stress that the addiction is causing.  The vicious cycle ends only when the addict hits bottom and seeks help. Whether that moment comes about because a spouse has uncovered the addiction, or a job is lost because of inappropriate behavior at work, or financial difficulties pile up, or the pain of going on in the same way becomes intolerable, it is crucially important that the addict is met at this crucial turning point with supportive and knowledgeable help.  This is a time that the sex addict needs to be assured that there is help, and that there is hope.

• Come Into Recovery

The Sexual Addiction Treatment and Training Institute (SATTI) has been treating sexual addiction since 1992, and training other mental health professionals during that time.  We know that there is help, and we know that there is hope.  For both the addict who is seeking to get sober and for addicts engaged in an ongoing recovery process, we offer experience, expertise, a caring, non-shaming approach, and a wide variety of resources. Because of the devastation that sex addiction causes, the addict often comes to us believing that his or her life is irredeemably ruined.  But so often they discover, with help and encouragement, that a truly transformative experience awaits them and that a productive, stable, and loving future is coming for those who are willing to do the work of recovery.  Call us.  Come into recovery.

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