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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is addiction?
  2. What kinds of addictions are there?
  3. What is addiction like?
  4. What is recovery?
  5. What is sex addiction?
  6. What are the characteristics of a sex addict?
  7. How do sex addicts feel about themselves?
  8. What kinds of sexual behaviors do sex addicts do?
  9. What is Cybersex?
  10. What is codependency and what are the symptoms of codependency?


1. What is addiction?

Addiction: self-induced changes in neurotransmission that result in behavior problems. Addiction is the use of a substance and/or an 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.


2. What kinds of addictions are there?

There are four major categories of addictions based on what happens in the person’s brain:

Arousal Addictions (“uppers”)

Arousal addictions (or “uppers”) are chosen because the person feels more stimulated. Stimulation can come from drugs (such as cocaine and meth), gambling, sex, spending, computer use, TV, and high-risk activities.

Satiation Addictions (“downers”)

Satiation addictions (or “downers”) are chosen because the person wants to feel calmer or soothed. Examples include alcohol, depressant drugs, food, sex, hoarding, TV, and computer games.

Fantasy or Mystical/Artistic Drugs and Activities

These are chosen because the person wants to feel more. Some examples are hallucinogenic drugs, marijuana, religion, sex, TV, computer games and/or relationships.


Deprivation involves the avoidance of chemicals and/or behaviors from fear of use. Examples include food anorexia, sexual anorexia, under-earning, spiritual anorexia, and under-spending.


3. What is addiction like?

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 can arise from a brain disorder, be the result of learning and culture or an impaired childhood, but it is primarily an attempt to self medicate. Addictive behavior is an attempt to relieve suffering, an attempt to cope. It is not about pleasure seeking.


4. What is necessary for recovery?

People in recovery need a safe haven or a secure base where they can learn from others how to stop whatever is destroying their lives and their relationships. They need emotional refueling and support. The addict must recognize that their brains must heal for recovery. They need to develop the capacity for honesty and for self-discovery, self-regard, self-respect and self-care. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result; recovery is learning new healthy practices.


5. What is sex addiction?

Sex addiction is obsessive/ compulsive sexual behavior, with oneself or others, which, if left untreated, will cause severe distress and despair for both the addict and his/her family. The sex addict is unable to control his/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 without outside help.


6. What are the characteristics of a sex addict?

Sexual addiction is a neurochemical problem. Addiction takes place in the brain, leading to an out-of-control pattern in the life of the addict. Doing the unintended, it is a persistent pursuit of self-destructive behavior.

Sex addiction is not about sex, but rather 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 to sexual addiction.


7. How do sex addicts feel about themselves?
  • I am a flawed and unworthy person
  • If people knew me, they wouldn’t love me
  • My needs will never be met if I have to count on others
  • Sex is my most important need


8. What kinds of sexual behaviors do sex addicts do?
  • Fantasy sex
  • Sexually charged fantasies, relationships and situations
  • Chronic and compulsive masturbation
  • Seductive role sex
  • Seduction of partners
  • Affairs
  • Voyeuristic sex
  • Visual arousal
  • Use of videos; photographs; strip/peep shows; watching people through windows
  • Exhibitionistic sex
  • Attracting attention to body or sexual parts of body
  • Masturbation in public places hoping to attract attention
  • Paying for prostitutes, massage parlors, escort services, lounges, calling porn lines, personal ads, spending money to get sexual favors
  • Trading sex
  • Arousal from control by using sex as leverage
  • Receiving money, services, drugs or other goods in exchange for sex
  • Intrusive sex
  • Boundary violation without discovery
  • Sexual harassment
  • Anonymous sex
  • High-risk sex with unknown persons
  • Sex in unsafe or high-risk environments: bars, beaches, parks, rest rooms
  • Pain exchange sex
  • Arousal from being humiliated or hurt
  • Arousal from sadistic hurting or degrading another
  • Exploitive Sex
  • Exploitation of the vulnerable
  • Sex offending


9. What is Cybersex?

Cybersex is sexual activity or arousal via computer. 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. Cybersex addicts live inside their heads in isolation. Cybersex is available all the time, with anonymity and at very low cost.


10. What is codependency and what are the symptoms of codependency?

Codependency is a pattern of painful dependence on compulsive behaviors and on approval from others in an attempt to find safety, self-worth and identity.

Symptoms include: low self-esteem; seeking external objects or persons for self-worth and guidance; investing of self-esteem in controlling others; difficulty in setting and maintaining boundaries; seeking to be involved in every aspect of a person’s life. Codependents may be over-responsible and over-commit themselves, or can’t accept individual responsibility and limits. Codependents have difficulty living in moderation, (observed in how they think, feel or behave). Codependents may appear unable to meet their personal needs; they complain, have their own addictions and are unable to access their own feelings.