Sexual Addiction Counseling
The American Society of Addiction Medicine describes addiction as a primary, chronic disease where reward, motivation, and memory function in a related circuitry in the brain. Dysfunction in these physiological circuits leads to biological, psychological, social, and spiritual problems. This dysfunction is reflected in an individual pathologically where individuals pursue reward or relief by substance use and other behaviors. Sexual addiction is a progressive intimacy disorder characterized by compulsive sexual thoughts and acts to achieve the kind of “fix” that a person with alcohol use disorder gets from a drink or someone with drug disorder gets from using drugs.
Despite a common misunderstanding, sex addiction is not about “too much sex.” It is a serious problem in which one engages in persistent and escalating sexual behavior patterns despite increasing negative consequences to self-and/or others (SASH Web site, 2007). Like drug or alcohol dependence, it can negatively impact a person’s physical and mental health, personal relationships, quality of life, and safety. Its negative impact on the addict and family members increases as the disorder progresses. Over time, the addict usually has to intensify the addictive behavior to achieve the same results.
For some sex addicts, behavior does not progress beyond compulsive masturbation or the extensive use of pornography, phone, or computer sex services. For others, addiction can involve illegal activities such as exhibitionism, voyeurism, obscene phone calls, or child molestation. For many, addiction to pornography and other compulsive sexual behavior has destroyed their most important relationships. Recovery from sexual addiction involves three critical elements. Like a three-legged stool, all three elements are necessary to bear the weight of recovery. These elements are:
• Intentionality – deciding to do something different and consistently make this choice.
• Process Time – committed to the time it takes to change and not stop because symptoms cease.
• Recovering Community –committed to a recovering community that will provide feedback and accountability.
Using Robert Millers EMDR Positive-Feeling-State-Protocol, clients process maladaptive experiences with compulsive sexual behaviors into adaptive or healthy behaviors. When a person’s brain is exposed to rewarding sexual practices, and it is more about reward circuitry in the brain and related brain structures than the external behaviors that “turn on” that reward circuitry. We target these maladaptive behaviors that clients engage in reaching the positive-feeling-state.
Recovery is possible with the help of others. When seeking help, individuals must be willing to come out of hiding and share with another their most shameful and dark secrets. Sharing the behavior and choices made during addiction breaks the shame that defines the addict as bad and hopeless.
Nurses Resources | Office of Addiction Services and Supports. https://oasas.ny.gov/providers/nurses-resources
Addiction: It Isn’t All a Brain Disease – Getting Back to …. https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.taap.org/resource/resmgr/imported/HO%201h%20ItIsntJustBrainDisease%20Bipsychosocial%20TAAP%20SanAntonio%20TX%207%2027%2012.pdf