The causes and effects of sex addiction are no different in Christians than in anyone else. In most cases, sexual addiction results from unresolved trauma. A person uses sex to make themselves feel better and cope with adverse emotions. Before they know it, what once was a coping mechanism has become an addiction.
Sex addiction is a global problem, with 6-8% of the population impacted. Determining the causes and effects of sex addiction in Christians is essential to their healing and recovery.
What Causes Sex Addiction?
Sex addiction is uncontrollable sexual fantasies, urges, or behaviors that cause severe emotional distress and negatively affect a person’s life. When the person begins to see the effects of their actions, they may try to stop the behavior but find they can’t.
While the cause of sex addiction depends on a person and their unique circumstances, there is a clear link between sex addiction and unresolved trauma.
“Sex addiction comes from a need to regulate an unregulated nervous system, likely caused by unresolved trauma,” said Matt Wenger, Clinical Director at Boulder Recovery. “That trauma overwhelms people and moves them into unhealthy coping.”
Traumatic experiences, like abuse or neglect, can drive addictive behaviors. Traumatic experiences can harm a person’s overall well-being, leaving them feeling out of control and attempting to resolve those feelings. Some people use sex as a way to cope with the adverse emotions that result from unprocessed trauma. When they do this enough, an addiction forms and they can’t stop.
The Harmful Effects of Sex Addiction
Sex addiction damages all aspects of a person’s life. It also has profound negative effects on that individual’s loved ones.
Effects of sex addiction are:
- Behavioral. People with sex addiction engage in behaviors that go against their beliefs. They do things they wouldn’t do if it weren’t for the addiction.
- Emotional. Feelings of guilt and shame about your actions may lead to low self-esteem and depression.
- Familial. Due to disapproval of your behavior, strained relationships can lead to isolation from others and emotional distress.
- Physical. The effects of unsafe sexual practices, such as unprotected sex or having multiple partners, can increase the risk for STDs and other physical ailments.
- Spiritual. Inappropriate sexual behavior can also cause spiritual damage, making you feel like you’re unworthy of God’s love or aren’t a good Christian.
How Can Christians Be Free from Sex Addiction?
Christians can recover from sex addiction and renew their faith, but they can’t do it alone. You must seek help in healing — emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
“Therapy is a foundational piece of recovery from addiction,” according to Matt. “Those looking to find sobriety often think it is about ceasing the behavior, but it’s about discovering why they do that thing and healing from the root cause.”
Therapy is vital to addressing the causes and effects of sex addiction in Christians. But there are additional steps to take on the journey to recovery.
Admit the Problem
It’s not easy to face addiction, but it’s the first step to healing. Take some time to think about what you’re going through. Determine what’s missing from your life. How has sex addiction negatively impacted your life and the lives of your loved ones? You have to get honest about the effects of the addiction and view the problem fully before you’re likely to commit to healing.
Commit to Healing and Recovery
Once you’ve admitted a problem exists, it’s time to take action. There are many ways to move forward with recovery. For example, some people find group therapy sessions helpful, while others prefer individual therapy. There are partner support options and intensive retreats to address and diminish ongoing harmful effects immediately.
Sex addiction is not likely to go away on its own, so it’s vital to seek help from a mental health professional.
Renew Your Connection With God
Seek spiritual guidance. Having a spiritual leader you trust who can help guide you through this process of healing your faith is crucial. Having support through the church will help as you begin uncovering the root cause of your addiction and healing from your behavior.
Make Intentional Changes
It’s important to make intentional changes in your life. To recover, you’ll need to make big decisions about what you want for yourself and how you will get there. For example, you’ll have to identify triggers and decide how you will cope with them.
It can be scary to think about change, but it’s also exciting. Your life is full of possibilities, so don’t let fear hold you back from living your most authentic life.
Stick to a Healthy Routine
Create healthier habits for dealing with stress and anxiety so they don’t lead back into adverse coping or result in relapse. This new routine means making time for activities like going for walks with friends or family instead of binge-watching TV shows alone at home, finding hobbies like gardening or painting that give you an outlet for creative expression, and getting involved.
Help From Boulder Recovery
Healing from sex addiction will take time and courage, but it is possible. Boulder Recovery is here to help you find your way through addiction. We help men address addictions and the trauma that creates them and offer partner betrayal support for the spouses of those in our program. Reach out to us for information to start on the road to healing.