What is Sex Addiction?

What is Sex Addiction

Many people wonder what sex addiction, also called sexual compulsivity, is. In reality the answer is not simple and different factors may lead individuals to use sex as a coping strategy. Someone with a sex addiction will often use their compulsive behaviour to escape the pressures, stresses and pain caused by their individual circumstances.

Depression and trauma are often linked to a sex addiction and sexual compulsions. For some, engaging or being propelled into sexual activities might be a way of dealing with depression or self-esteem issues. People who feel out of control with their use of sex or pornography, often start using sexual activities as a way to deal or cope with feelings of anxiety, discomfort, unbearable boredom and depression.

The issue is that this is a short term fix with long term problematic consequences. If left untreated, compulsive use of sex or pornography will take centre stage and people will be caught in a vicious cycle which can further complicate an already challenging lifestyle.


Compulsive behaviour

Compulsive behaviour is not always easy to recognise or acknowledge and it can often be a very painful process to work through the reasons behind the addiction.

Getting help is the first step and the hardest one to take. Psychosexual Therapy or counselling can provide a safe place to engage in a process of exploration and learn different coping skills that enhance the process of recovery and taking control of your life again.

Controlling obsessive thoughts and behaviour about sex

The obsessive thoughts and behaviours are shared by most addictive processes (for example, substance addiction, gambling, social medias). When someone starts engaging in sexually addictive behaviours, it is very important for them to understand and control their compulsions; this is likely to eventually get out if control.

It is not unusual for people who are suffering from sexual compulsivity to struggle with depression, anxiety, PTSD or may have suffered from neglect or abuse as a child. Sexual compulsivity will impact a person’s low self-esteem, carry a sense of guilt and shame and challenge loving relationships.

Relationship with a Sex Addict

Escaping the real world

Someone with a sex addiction will often use their behaviour to escape the real world stresses and pain. As with other addictions, the short term fix of compulsive sexual behaviour causes the brains to release chemicals that elevates the “feel good” hormones. These “feel good” hormones are typically used as a temporary soothing “high” rather than a “full feeling”. These same process can also cause a person to have intense cravings for illicit substances such as alcohol, gambling, cocaine, or heroin. This is what is known as “seeking”.

Help for Sex Addiction

Do not delay looking for help and reaching out. It is important to receive support in a supportive environment.

At times people suffering from sexual compulsion choose to start therapy or alternatively to enter inpatient programs or live in residential treatment programs where inpatient care is a possibility. These environments provide a safe place for them to engage in therapy and learn coping skills that will aid them in the outside world. Treatment in a supportive environment can be extremely helpful as it allows sex addicts to get the help they need without the fear of being exposed to the outside influences that might not bode well for them socially.


Seek the right help

Many people experiencing out of control sexual behaviour choose from different supportive options: therapy, the fellowship or inpatient treatment program. All can provide the safe and confidential space needed in order to receive treatment. Help and support may be integrated with and facilitated by an experienced sex addict therapist. A multi-disciplinary approach can be also a solid and grounded choice which will require a good level of commitment and will provide the in-depth therapeutic support and the tailored approach that sexual compulsivity often needs.

Depression and Anxiety

“Not why the addiction but why the pain.” Gabor Mate. “Being cut off from our own natural self-compassion is one of the greatest impairments we can suffer.”

Depression and anxiety are often related to sex addiction and sexual compulsivity. Many times sex addicts choose to engage in problematic behaviour that offers immediate relief from unbearable feelings. These can be linked to depression, anxiety, restlessness or low self-esteem. Sex addicts use their sexual activities as a way to deal or cope with short term soothing and long term damage. Looking at the underlining feelings, emotions, stressors, relationship with self and others is always an important part of the recovery process.

Counselling in London UK, Worldwide and Online

We do work in the strictest confidence and work within a safe and containing environment. If you do feel like you need some help and support, Leone Centre counsellors and therapists are available 7 days a week. Get in touch for more information on how we can help you make positive changes in your life. Our head office for Psychosexual Therapy London is in Fulham at Ranelagh Gardens, London, SW6 3PA. Easily reachable from Chelsea, Fulham, Putney, Wimbledon and Battersea.

Working Online

Our services stretch far wider, whereby we are well accustomed to online working for Psychosexual therapy. Online Counselling at Leone Centre comes with its own benefits and can offer flexibility where needed.