Sex addiction can wreak havoc on your career, relationships, and responsibilities. These side effects may not be evident to everyone, but during sexual addiction therapy, you will begin to understand your addiction’s far-reaching impacts.
Seeking sexual addiction therapy is a sign of strength, self-awareness, and progress. To understand if you need therapy for your sex addiction, you should reflect on how it impacts your life.
Understanding Sex Addiction
Like any addiction, sex addiction takes over your every thought and desire. You may feel consumed entirely with sexual thoughts and fantasies.
Sex addiction is a hypersexuality disorder. Your thoughts and behaviors surrounding sex consume you to the point that it causes distress. You can’t function in your regular life.
The root of sex addiction frequently is unresolved trauma. You begin to rely on sexual outlets to cope with adverse feelings and conflict in an effort to regain control of your life. Soon your brain becomes wired to need sex to regulate your nervous system and deal with negative or stressful feelings.
Symptoms of sex addiction include:
- Hiding your sexual behaviors or lying about them
- Feelings of shame, guilt, or distress about your sexual actions
- Escalation in activity leading to risk-taking behaviors like engaging in high-risk sex
- Avoiding other responsibilities to pursue sexual outlets
- Avoiding social interactions and gatherings if they don’t directly involve sex
- Failed attempts to stop these sexual behaviors
Hiding behaviors, lying about finances, and feeling ashamed prevent you from getting the help you need. Sexual addiction therapy can help you trace the harm you’ve caused yourself and others. It can begin to help you heal and overcome your addiction to sex.
Side Effects of Sex Addiction
You’re a unique person. Therefore the way sex addiction impacts your life differs from the next person. As Ed Tilton, Chief Operating Officer at Begin Again Institute, points out, “The side effects are never going to be the same for everyone.”
This variability is why sex addiction therapy needs to be an individualized program that suits you.
Despite differences in impact, sex addiction has some common psychological, physical, and long-term effects.
Psychological Effects of Sex Addiction
Addictions weigh heavily on your mental health. When you’re pursuing sex as an addiction, you may feel powerful and as if you’re committing to your actions fully. But in reflection, you realize the harm you’ve caused yourself and others.
To take care of your mental health, you need to be aware of the psychological side effects of your sex addiction, such as:
- Low self-esteem
- Feelings of shame and guilt
- Obsessive or intrusive thoughts
- Mood swings
During sex addiction therapy, you receive tools to help you cope with these side effects. Having these tools means you’re more well equipped in the future to make better choices.
Physical Effects of Sex Addiction
Much like substance addiction, sex addiction can be a risk to your physical health. Your risk-taking behaviors may escalate over time as you search out your next “high.”
Reflect on your behaviors around sex and consider if you’re suffering from these physical effects of sex addiction:
- Increased likelihood for STDs from high-risk sexual activity
- Impotence caused by porn-induced erectile dysfunction
- Sleep disruptions such as insomnia
- Extreme fatigue from poor quality sleep
You need to take care of your physical body. Like many other addictions, sex addiction will cause you to wear down before you know it.
Long-Term Effects of Sex Addiction
Sex addiction can cause you to make harmful social, relationship, and career decisions. Choosing sex over things that matter most to you happens through countless micro-decisions in your life. The struggle with impulse control may lead you to deal with the long-term impacts if you don’t seek help early on.
Some common long-term side effects of sexual addiction are:
- Isolation from friends, family, and your partner
- Relationship breakdowns from infidelity or dishonesty
- Substance use and addiction when dopamine receptors are no longer firing through sex alone
- Occupational issues due to your risky and often less-than-secretive behavior
- Legal and financial problems
The side effects of sex addiction reach deep into all aspects of your life. Seeking treatment for your sex addiction is the first step in getting your life back in control. You deserve help. You don’t have to recover alone.
Sexual Addiction Therapy Options
Like sex addiction, sexual addiction therapy isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Your unique treatment program needs to address and suit your needs and behaviors, so you can create lasting change.
“Treatment specific to sex addiction is key in alleviating these side effects. Those struggling will often lie or misrepresent the behaviors. This leads to the need for treatment of symptoms (depression, anxiety, difficulty concentrating) while the driving factors persist,” Ed said.
Trauma-focused therapy focuses on understanding and healing traumatic experiences. The goal is to help you create a greater sense of well-being by helping you process past trauma.
Trauma-focused therapy in the treatment of sex addiction helps you uncover and address your addiction’s root cause. Only then can you begin to tackle the behaviors it caused.
Triggers surround people with sex addiction. You jump-start your recovery by removing yourself from these triggers and any other stressors. Inpatient programs invite you to stay in a specialized facility. Doing this removes you from your typical environment, so you can progress faster toward a life free from addiction.
For many, the classic 12-step recovery program helps create lifelong change. Working with others with sex addiction creates a sense of accountability and camaraderie. 12-Step communities also foster empathy within their communities which can help immensely with your healing process. Each step you take toward your recovery empowers you to make better decisions.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is talk therapy. It helps you identify helpful thoughts and impulses and teaches you practical self-help strategies. It’s an excellent sex addiction therapy option because you learn how thinking and perception impact your choices.
Addiction thrives in isolation. In group therapy, safety and vulnerability is created amongst a group of peers who can identify with the struggle and pain of addiction. They can empathize with what you’re going through, and you can work together to heal. Groups also offer a sense of accountability, support, and community.
Getting treatment tailored toward sex-addiction specifically is a vital step toward long term recovery.
“Treatment specific to sex addiction allows the sufferer to be honest about when the behaviors started, the escalation of those behaviors, and the past emotional wounds and traumas that led to the addicion,” Ed said. “This process allows for a reduction in shame and honest conversations. With honest conversations, a timeline, and identification of root traumas, we can then move into trauma-focused treatments to start the process of recovery from sex addiction.”
Sex addiction therapy has to be suited to you to be effective. That’s why there are so many treatment programs to help you design your path forward.
Healing from Sex Addiction
Healing from sex addiction is challenging. You have to take it one day and one moment at a time. There’s no such thing as skipping steps when it comes to recovery from addiction. e patient and make your recovery a daily commitment on your healing journey .
During this program, you’ll learn about your addiction and its cause, and begin to identify your triggers. You’ll learn the tools you need to be successful on your healing journey.
Seeking addiction treatment is a sign of strength, self-awareness, and self-control. Make the best decision for yourself and inquire about sexual addiction therapy with BAI today.