Don’t Be Embarrassed About Going to Sex Addiction Counseling
It’s easy to feel shame for an addiction. It’s something that people hide almost inherently; you don’t want to admit that you have a problem. Some people struggle with substance abuse — drug or alcohol problems — while others struggle with gambling. Some people struggle with sex addiction. Being a sex addict is similar to living with any other addiction; you crave sexual activity. You want to be engaged in sex because it makes you feel good, and with any addiction, that’s what you’re chasing. That dopamine high. They want to feel something all the time, and they’re trying to fill an emptiness inside themselves. When you’re a sex addict, there’s an element of shame that can potentially be associated with the addiction.
Sex is taboo
Sex is taboo in our society. Despite the rampant over-sexualization of the human body in our culture — constant media images that sexualize naked women, and so on — talking about sex openly is taboo. Many people don’t discuss it at all, not even with close friends, and keep their sex lives private, so a sex addiction can be hard to disclose to your loved ones or admit to struggling with so that you can get help. Being a sex addict can make you feel like you’re “less than,” and it’s not something that makes you subhuman. You’re a person struggling with a real problem and admitting you have this issue is brave.
What to expect in sex addiction counseling
Just like any other form of counseling, sex addiction is a place to talk about your feelings. You’ll discuss the addiction. You’ll be talking about what makes it difficult for you to stop chasing the addiction — the thing about addiction is that you never get what you’re looking for, you’re always chasing the next high, and it’s precisely the same for sex addiction. You want to reach that high or fill a void, and in sex addiction counseling, you’ll figure out why. What’s the underlying issue? Why do you feel empty inside? It’s not something you’ll get to in the first session, and in fact, it might take many sessions. It could be that you came from a background of trauma where you were sexually abused. Maybe you grew up in a household where sex was shunned, and you’re acting out against the idea that sex is “bad.” It could also be that you have an addictive personality, and this happens to be the addiction that chose you. Perhaps you have a mental illness or condition that leads to hypersexuality. Whatever the underlying cause is, you’ll be able to discuss it with your counselor and learn ways to curb your addiction in exchange for healthy patterns.
Addiction isn’t something you need to be ashamed of, but it’s understandable if you have shame associated with your sex addiction because it’s something that society shuns. Both addiction in general and sexuality, in general, are things that Western culture likes to, for whatever reason, keep under the radar. If you think you might have a sex addiction or any other addiction for that matter, it’s more than OK to seek help; it’s admirable.
Signs of a sex addiction
Many people enjoy having sex and actively seek out sexual partners, but when you find yourself consumed entirely by sex and can’t think about anything else, you might have a sex addiction. Signs of sex addiction include:
- Long periods of being promiscuous with many partners
- Excessive use of pornography
- Masturbating excessively
- Using prostitutes or engaging in prostitution
- Infidelity or cheating on a partner
- Frequent unprotected sex
- Exhibitionism and voyeurism
Many people believe that only men have sex addiction. However, it can affect anyone. Five percent of men have a sex addiction, and 2% of women do; it’s not as slanted in terms of gender. Many people who struggle with this addiction have a history of abuse. Seventy-two percent were physically abused, 81% are sexually abused, and 97% are emotionally abused. Many people with a sex addiction have a comorbid mental health diagnosis such as bipolar disorder, depression, anxiety, ADHD, or other addictions, like substance abuse, gambling, and compulsive shopping.
If you’re struggling with sex addiction, you can get help. It’s important to seek it out rather than ignore the problem and hide it. An excellent place to discuss sex addiction is online counseling. In sex addiction counseling, you’ll talk about sensitive things, and you’ll want to feel like you have privacy. You want to feel safe and comfortable, which is why online counseling is a great fit. You can find an online counselor who understands sex addiction, and they will help you get through this. You may feel like it’s hopeless, but with the right help, you can overcome sex addiction.
Getty photo by YakobchukOlena