Frequently Asked Questions
- What is addiction?
- What kinds of addictions are there?
- What is addiction like?
- What is recovery?
- What is sex addiction?
- What are the characteristics of a sex addict?
- How do sex addicts feel about themselves?
- What kinds of sexual behaviors do sex addicts do?
- What is Cybersex?
- What is codependency?
- What are the symptoms of codependency?
Addiction: self-induced changes in neurotransmission that result in behavior problems. Addiction is the use of a substance or activity for the purpose of lessening pain or augmenting pleasure, by a person who has lost control over the rate, frequency, or duration of its use, and whose life has become progressively unmanageable as a result.
There are 4 major categories of addictions based on what happens in the person’s brain.
First, there are the arousal addictions or “uppers”, one’s that are chosen because the person feels more stimulated. These are the stimulant drugs such as cocaine and meth, gambling, sex, spending, computer use, TV, and high-risk activities.
Second, are the satiation addictions or the “downers”, chosen because the person wants to feel calmer or soothed. These are alcohol, depressant drugs, food, sex, hoarding, TV, and computer games.
Third, are the fantasy or the mystical/artistic drugs and activities. These are chosen because the person wants to check out into another world or “space”. Some examples are hallucinogenic drugs, marijuana, religion, sex, TV, computer games and/or relationships.
Last, are the deprivation – the avoidance of chemicals and/or behaviors from fear of use. Such as food anorexic, sexual anorexia, under-earning, spiritual anorexia, and under-spending.
The root of addiction is a pervasive, deeply felt sense of detachment and alienation. The core beliefs of the addict are based on an impaired capacity to trust. Addiction is not only a brain disorder, the result of learning and culture, an impaired childhood, but it is primarily an attempt to self-repair. Addiction is an attempt to relieve suffering, an attempt to cope. Addiction is primarily an attempt to self-medicate, not pleasure seeking.
People in recovery need a safe haven or a secure base where they can learn from others how to stop what ever is destroying their lives and their relationships. They need emotional refueling and support. They all must recognize that their brains must heal for recovery. They need to develop the capacity for honesty and for self-discovery, self-regard, self-re spect, and self-care. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result whereas recovery is learning new healthy practices.
Sex addiction is obsessive/ compulsive sexual behavior, with self or other, which if left untreated will cause severe distress and despair for both the addict and his or her family.
The sex addict is unable to control his or her sexual behavior and lives with constant pain, alienation and fear of discovery. The addiction progresses until sexual behavior becomes more important than family, friends or work. The addict is trapped in a bondage of compulsive sexual behavior over which he or she has no power to control, change or stop.
It is a neurochemical problem – addiction takes place in the brain – leading to an out-of-control pattern in their lives, doing the unintended, it is a persistent pursuit of self-destructive behavior. Sex addiction is not about sex, but is the use of sex to regulate emotional life and to gain sense of power and self-worth. Addiction becomes the organizing principle of the addict’s life with secrecy, due to shame, it is a Jekyll and Hyde existence. There can be risky exploitive behavior. Addicts are lonely and angry, depressed and can be suicidal. The presence of other addictions, such as alcohol, cocaine and methamphetamine is common. There is an extreme disruption of family and other significant consequences.
Core beliefs of a sex addict are:
Self-image: I am a flawed and unworthy person
Relationships: If people knew me, they wouldn’t love me
Needs: They will never be met if I have to count on others
Sexuality: Sex is my most important need
Fantasy Sex: 18%
Sexually charged fantasies, relationships and situations
Chronic and compulsive masturbation
Seductive Role Sex: 21%
Seduction of partners
Voyeuristic Sex: 18%
Use of videos, photographs, strip/peep shows, watching people through windows
Exhibitionistic Sex: 15%
Attracting attention to body or sexual parts of body
Masturbate in public places hoping to attract attention
Paying for sex: 15%
Prostitutes, massage parlors, escort services, lounges, calling porn lines, personal
ads, spending money to get sexual favors
Trading sex: 12%
Arousal from control by using sex as leverage
Receive money, services, drugs, other goods in exchange for sex
Intrusive Sex: 17%
Boundary violation without discovery
Anonymous Sex: 18%
High risk sex with unknown persons
Unsafe or high risk environments: bars, beaches, parks, rest rooms
Pain Exchange Sex: 16%
Arousal from being humiliated or hurt
Arousal from sadistic hurting or degrading another
Exploitive Sex: 13%
Exploitation of the vulnerable
Cybersex is the crack cocaine of the sex addiction. It is without risk of STDs or the distraction of reality. Addicts believe the behavior to be victimless and harmless that it is only safe fantasy. These addicts live inside their heads, in isolation. It is available 24/7/365 with anonymity and very low cost.
Codependence is a pattern of painful dependence on compulsive behaviors and on approval from others in an attempt to find safety, self-worth and identity.
These are some of the possible symptoms: low self-esteem; seek external objects or persons for self-worth and guidance; invest self-esteem in controlling others; difficulty in setting and maintaining boundaries; seek to be involved in every aspect of a person’s life; over-responsible and over-commit themselves or can’t accept individual responsibility and limits; difficulty in living in moderation – seen in how think, feel, behave; appears unable to meet personal needs; complaints; have own addictions; unable to access own feelings.