What Are Common Treatments for Sex Addiction?

couple making out in bed

 If you are compelled to continually engage in sexual behavior and have an inability to control sexual impulses even when there are negative consequences, you may be struggling with sex addiction. This is a disorder in which you may be using sex almost as if it were a drug to escape life stressors. You are preoccupied with the behavior and lose control of your impulses.

The compulsive behavior seen in sex addiction is similar to that seen in substance use disorders.  For this reason, there are many ways in which the treatment of sex addiction resembles the treatment of addiction to alcohol or other drugs.

Factors That Affect Sex Addiction

 Unlike drug addiction, sex addiction can’t realistically be treated with a goal of complete abstinence, but instead with a goal of elimination of problematic behaviors. For many people, sex addiction is accompanied by other disorders, such as substance use disorder, anxiety, depression or personality or behavioral disorders. In order to create a treatment plan for sex addiction treatment, a mental health professional needs to determine what other disorders may be present.  Hypersexual behaviors may also have a physical cause, such as injuries to certain areas of the brain that may affect behavior.

Sex Addiction Treatment 

Support groups based on 12-step philosophy can be very helpful as a way of providing peer support for recovery of sex addiction. Examples include Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sexaholics Anonymous. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that can help you identify what triggers compulsive sexual behavior so you can learn to control it and choose different behaviors.

If other mental illnesses are present such as depression or anxiety, mood stabilizers used in treating bipolar disorder may reduce compulsive urges. Antidepressants may also reduce the impulses that are found in sex addiction. Severe sexual compulsions may need to be treated at an inpatient facility or through intensive outpatient programs.

 

Resources

National Institutes of Health: Understanding and Managing Compulsive Sexual Behaviors

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2945841/

Medicinenet: Sexual Addiction

http://www.medicinenet.com/sexual_addiction/page5.htm#what_is_the_treatment_for_sexual_addiction

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