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If you or a loved one is struggling with sexual addiction or addiction to pornography, reaching out for help is key. However, many are unsure of what to do or how to understand the addiction they are facing. Look over these frequently asked questions (FAQs) to get a sense of how the Begin Again Institute can help you start to heal.

Although there has been serious debate concerning sexual addiction, medical experts have confirmed that sex addiction is real. In 2011, The American Society of Addiction Medicine concluded that all addictions are brain-based disorders and can include behaviors as well as substances. Sex addiction is real and if left untreated, destroys relationships, careers, and families.

As with any addiction, there is no ‘cure.’ But with the right commitment, treatment, and follow-through, sex addicts can remain in remission their entire lives. Unhealthy sexual behavior can be arrested and a normal, healthy life can resume.

Sexual Addiction is a process addiction, meaning the user changes their mood by engaging in a behavior. This is in contrast to a substance addiction that changes the users’ mood by ingesting a substance such as drugs or alcohol. Sex and pornography addiction are difficult to treat requiring treatment by a specialist.

Yes, sex addiction treatment is different. Sex addiction has to be treated by someone certified in the treatment of sex addiction. Without a specific certification, such as Certified Sex Addiction Therapist (CSAT), treatment will not address the root causes of the addiction, which will allow it to return in full force.

Sex addiction is akin to having a food addiction. The goal is not sexual abstinence, but abstinence from unhealthy sex. Generally speaking, when an addict begins treatment they are asked to refrain from all sexual behavior for a period of time to allow the brain to calm down from tremendous amounts of neurochemicals associated with sex addiction. The addict learns to slowly re-engage with his/her sexuality in a healthy way that provides intimacy and closeness, instead of escape.

If your partner has discovered your secret life, be honest and tell him/her that you are seeking help with an expert in sexual addiction. Above all, spare him/her the details until you can process your behaviors with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. Explain to your partner that she/he will be told the entire truth, but treatment and support need to occur first. Sex addiction produces a great deal of shame, and we know you are anxious to relieve your guilt. Please call as soon as possible to stop the nightmare and begin healing.

It will take time. You can begin to trust your partner again when they are in recovery for themselves not just because you want them to be. Your partner will need to be in a program of recovery that can include weekly individual therapy, group therapy, couples counseling, and a 12-Step support group. The more they are involved in their own recovery, the quicker you will regain trust.

Nothing. Sexual addiction is caused by trauma that leaves the addict unable to connect or to be authentic. In other words, the addict can tolerate short periods of intimacy, but cannot stay intimate for consistent periods of time. This on-again/off-again closeness can be challenging and damage your self-worth. Your partner’s infidelity and unhealthy sexual behavior have nothing to do with you in any way. It is not about your looks, your intelligence, or your age. Addiction has everything to do with an individual’s feelings of inadequacy that must be treated before there is any hope of connection or intimacy.

If you believe your partner is an addict, you are most likely correct. Very few people question addictions unless they are seeing or feeling the evidence of an addiction. Trust your instincts; break the denial and seek help. You can consult with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist to determine the level of your partner’s addiction and what you can do to end the pain you are experiencing. We have specific treatment options to help you confront his/her behaviors in a caring and compassionate way. Above all, get help with a therapist who is certified in Sex Addiction Therapy because most regular therapists, as well-meaning as they may be, can miss important signs and symptoms and not understand how to treat the disorder.

Most often when partners discover the sex addiction they immediately reach out to a couples therapist to fix the relationship. While intuitive, there are very few couples counselors trained to treat sex addiction. The addict must first have their own therapist to stop the behaviors and heal the root cause. The partner should have their own therapist, as well, to deal with the trauma that occurs because of the addictive behaviors. There should be at least two therapists involved when working with a couple to treat the addiction and the impact of the addiction.

Absolutely. Sex addiction is about uncovering and disclosing secrets. It would be unethical for a sex addiction counselor to treat both the addict and the partner because at some point the therapist would have to keep secrets until a full disclosure can be implemented. The addict and the partner should both see Certified Sex Addiction Therapists because general counselors are not trained to treat the addiction or the trauma of betrayal.

Absolutely. When the addict fully commits to stopping the behavior and healing the underlying issues, the possibility of a healthy relationship is certainly possible. At the Begin Again Institute, we have a 98% success rate.

This all depends on the depth of their addiction, the willingness to seek help, and the commitment to do whatever it takes to leave the destructive behavior behind. The addict absolutely needs clear boundaries when starting, and it is perfectly acceptable to set a boundary around the need for treatment.

Depending on the age of the child, we encourage different types of disclosure. If children are young, or before you tell older children anything, first seek treatment and establish your recovery. Most likely, children know something is wrong and can feel the tension within the adults’ relationship. Assure them that the difficulty is not their fault, that you love them very much, and that everything is going to be okay. Once you begin working with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist, you can formulate a solid plan to help protect children and heal any impact they may have experienced.

There is a large difference between sex addiction and sexual offending. If you have discovered child pornography on your partner’s computer, they have crossed a line that can have severe consequences and indicates the need for immediate help. Most sex addicts, however, are not a physical threat to children. Instead, being preoccupied with sexual behavior often leaves children in an emotional vacuum (and even emotional abandonment), which can cause severe emotional problems for their children as they mature.

The best possible treatment for sex addiction is multifaceted. At Begin Again Institute, we base treatment on accountability and a rigorous framework of healing. All sex addiction derives from an incomplete attachment system and the subsequent trauma. Sex addicts cannot fully bond to another individual, and they subsequently seek outside sources to relieve their often suppressed anxiety and pain.

The time it takes to fully recover from sex addiction depends on how deeply the addiction is rooted within the individual. The characteristics that make recovery faster are:

  • a willingness and desire to seek treatment
  • an acceptance that there is a problem and a wish for a healthier lifestyle 
  • the acknowledgment that recovery is a life-long process

Individuals who come for treatment at the Begin Again Institute usually stay involved in some type of program for 1 to 3 years.

Being “outed” or discovered is like waking up from a bad dream, only to discover that the dream is real. The best possible way to deal with being discovered is, to be honest, and seek immediate help with a Certified Sex Addiction Therapist. People who quickly accept the experience and seek help find a new sense of freedom. It may sound impossible, but most addicts are actually grateful something finally made them stop. At Begin Again Institute, we help you realize your true value and eliminate your self-destructive behavior. Recovery begins with honesty and acceptance; once you have these, you can build the life you have always wanted.

When stopping pornography addiction, there needs to be a sobriety plan to minimize the risk of returning to the old behavior. Early on, the addict must significantly limit his/her access to the Internet—this includes both computers and smartphones. There are good filters that limit access and a lot of our patients ‘dumb down’ their smartphones until the compulsion has lifted. Having an accountability partner also helps to stay away from acting out and provides support.

This is a matter of preference. However, it is unilaterally accepted that people recovering from the addiction or betrayal can provide personal insights into the nuances of sex addiction recovery. There appears to be a benefit to working with a counselor that is familiar with getting and staying sober from addiction. Sex addiction counselors that are in personal recovery have exceptional insight into when a client is trying to avoid recovery or hiding certain behaviors.

In most addictions it doesn’t matter. However, when dealing with sex addiction, we have found that gender-specific treatment is best. It can be said that men know men and women know women. With something as personal as sex addiction, gender or orientation-specific treatment provides an extra measure of accountability, as well as limits on the possibility of intrigue and fantasy.

Unfortunately, in most cases, the answer is no. Sexual Addiction is not currently recognized as a mental health diagnosis in the most recent version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). This means that full-pay insurance will not cover the treatment needed. While it’s always worth checking with your individual carrier and plan, Begin Again Institute cannot help you obtain pre-authorization or help you resolve insurance issues.

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