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How to Deal with Sex Addiction
Whether you’re here for yourself or because someone you love is struggling with a sex addiction, your first step is to give yourself or that loved one some grace. I want you to take a moment and let go of any shame or self-loathing you might feel. There’s nothing dirty or broken about you. This is a problem to be solved, like any other, and the best way to solve problems is with a kind heart and clear eyes.
With that thought in mind, let’s talk about where sexual addictions come from and how we can deal with it.
Addiction as a Coping Mechanism
It makes no difference if you’re addicted to sex, drugs, alcohol, or even video games—they’re all coping mechanisms we use to self-medicate other life problems. Think of sex as a little button you can hit to get a shot of dopamine, because that’s exactly what it is. At some point in your life you learned that when you were feeling stressed out or down—or even just plain bored—you could hit that button and feel good for a while.
But if you know anything about addiction, you should know this: the more you use a drug, the more you need to keep getting that high. Sex addiction may have started off as a survival mechanism you used to get through a rough time in your life—a way to get a boost of self-esteem and confidence or the feeling of being wanted when you didn’t have that.
Once that survival mechanism stops doing its job, we need to learn how to reel it back in and control it. That means finding strategies that help keep us on the straight and arrow.
Start getting a handle on your addiction by avoiding temptation. Just like you wouldn’t recommend a recovering alcoholic spend all their time frequenting bars, or that former smokers join their friends on smoke breaks, you need to be aware of your triggers. Unfortunately, when it comes to sex addiction that’s easier said than done. Our society is dripping with sex. It’s everywhere, from advertisements on TV to on-demand pornography on cell phones and computers.
You can start by creating boundaries and guard rails:
Limit or schedule time spent with pornography or things that remind you of sexual acts.
Avoid strip clubs, raunchy bachelor parties, or activities that bring up sexual thoughts.
Set boundaries with friends who encourage your addiction.
Consider content filtering or blocking on your phone and computer that limits your ability to access pornography, and other things that you spend an excessive amount of time engaging in that are connected to the addiction.
Be Open & Honest
Especially if you’re partnered up or married, it’s time to embrace a policy of open-door honesty. One major sign of sex addiction is the act of hiding behaviors, and this inevitably impacts personal relationships. It’s essential to be able to be honest with yourself about relapses. If you’re in a relationship with someone who’s struggling with sex addiction, you need to set some realistic expectations. Recovery is a process, and there are likely to be setbacks along the way. Taking the shame and secrecy out of addiction will help heal.
Because sex addiction is about filling a gap, you can look for alternatives to scratch that itch. Like a smoker switching to gum or an alcoholic embracing virgin cocktails, look for solace in other activities. Creative hobbies, video games, sports, and exercise are all ways you can redirect your sex addiction in a different direction.
Dealing with addiction is a complicated process. There are several effective therapeutic options available for people looking to heal from addiction. Some people look into treatment programs, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), support groups, sex addicts anonymous, and other resources that can help rid the shame of risky sexual behavior, compulsive sexual behavior, and sexual activity that feeds into the addiction, such as one night stands.
Reach out today to schedule a free consultation from one of our mental health professionals who specializes in sex addiction so that you aren’t alone in this process.