An addiction is a chronic disorder in which an individual is blinded by a substance, or engages in an activity, that gives them an immense amount of pleasure but has become detrimental to their everyday life. Compulsive behaviors and addictions can temporarily provide confidence, control, validation or other emotions lacking in one’s life, but the behavior may not stop until the root of the problem is addressed. All addictive/compulsive behaviors are ways to cover one's pain.
Addiction changes the brain through the limbic system, also known as the “brain reward system.” This part of the brain is responsible for producing feelings of pleasure and relaxation, for example. The abuse of addictive substances and behaviors triggers this system which then affects the ability for one to control feelings and motivations,
Common addictions include but are not limited to:
- Drug or alcohol abuse
Seek Professional Assistance
People who have developed an addiction are often the last to believe that they are out of control. Typically either they need to be directed into getting help by a loved one, or be in so much pain about how their lives are going, that they will finally be willing to ask for help.
Counseling and recovery typically focus on talk therapy and behavioral changes. Triggers need to be determined and methods to control impulses are a part of the work. Education about addiction and developing a strong support system are vital. However, the underlying issues, which are often unknown to the individual, must ideally be uncovered and dealt with on a deeper emotional level.
About Sex Addiction
According to WebMD, it is “the behavior of a person who has an unusually intense sex drive or an obsession with sex. Sex and the thought of sex tend to dominate the sex addict’s thinking, making it difficult to work or engage in healthy personal relationships.”
“Sex Addiction” is an umbrella term which includes a variety of damaging behaviors. Some examples are: excessive masturbation, multiple affairs, obsession with pornography, risky sexual behaviors such as unsafe sex, exhibitionism and other inappropriate or damaging behaviors. It refers to a wide range of sexual activities which have become problematic.
According to Patrick Carnes, Ph. D., a nationally known author and speaker on sex addiction and recovery issues, there are certain warning signs that someone could be a sex addict. Some of these signs include:
- Frequently engaging in more sex and with more partners than intended.
- Being preoccupied with or persistently craving sex; wanting to cut down and unsuccessfully attempting to limit sexual activity.
- Spending considerable time in activities related to sex, such as cruising for partners or spending hours online visiting pornographic Web sites.
- Neglecting obligations such as work, school or family in pursuit of sex.
- Continually engaging in the sexual behavior despite negative consequences, such as broken relationships or potential health risks.
- Escalating scope or frequency of sexual activity to achieve the desired effect, such as more frequent visits to prostitutes or more sex partners.
Working with clients who are dealing with sex addiction acting out is my primary area of clinical specialization. If you or a loved one is struggling in this area and you are ready to begin to take back your life, I look forward to working with you.
"Like an alcoholic unable to stop drinking, sexual addicts are unable to stop their self-destructive sexual behavior. Family breakups, financial disaster, loss of jobs, and risk to life are the painful themes of their stories.
Much hope nevertheless exists for these addicts and their families. Sex addicts have shown an ability to transform a life of self-destruction into a life of self-care, a life in chaos and despair into one of confidence and peace". - Patrick J.Carnes, Ph.D. Author of Out of the Shadows