“It was 3am. I was back in my hotel room after spending hours of making poor choices and drawing deeper into my sexual shame.
I had a business meeting scheduled within a few hours. Still I couldn’t sleep. My mind was filled with sex scenes and the creeping sense of regret that always followed my sexual craving.
First, I started out as usual by looking at porn in my hotel room, an expense that sometimes would show up on my hotel bill. Then, I went to a strip club where I paid for countless pricy drinks and lap dances. Eventually, fully intoxicated, I headed back to my hotel room alone, but first, I went for my shame coup de graçe and paid for sex with a street prostitute.
The house of cards I had built was falling apart and I was falling apart. Why couldn’t I control myself? I kept telling myself over and over that I wouldn’t behave this way again. Yet here I was, engaging in humiliating and risky behaviors that only made me feel awful about myself.
At first I thought that I just shouldn’t drink anymore. If only my problem was alcohol and not sex but, it was becoming clear to me that sex was my drug of choice. I was on my way to losing much more before I came to see that I was addicted to sex and I was out of control. It was only then that I sought help.”
In health, we learn to appreciate the gifts of even difficult feelings, remain connected to our bodies, and find comfort in intimate relationships. Sex addicts, however, live life detached from their feelings, disconnected from their bodies, and isolated from intimate relationships.
For sex addicts, sex is a “fix” for virtually any problem. It is an association, developed in the brain during an extended period of time to bridge the abyss between their ongoing problems of stress, fear, boredom, pain, or shame, and a perceived solution (sex or arousal).
The longer and more frequently they use sex as the solution to a perceived problem, the deeper a neural pathway gets grooved in the brain. A neural pathway is like a rut that starts as a subtle craving in response to stress and becomes a powerful, often subconcious need.
To make matters worse, the sex addict’s brain gets increasingly over-sensitized to stress problems and requires more and more intensity and arousal to satisfy more frequent needs. Their brain literally misperceives even slightly stressful events as significant ones that require a “fix.”
Picture the alcoholic who after a stressful day at the office proclaims, “I really need a drink!” Now, substitute sex for alcohol and you get the picture. What was once a “fix” or an escape from stress begins to control the addict. It’s at this point that the solution of sex has become the problem of sex addiction.
• To “fix” boredom with excitement and intensity?
• To feel alive?
• To get a thrill?
• To “fix” feelings and escape the moment?
• To check out for a while? To “fix” anxiety?
• To relax?
• To help you sleep?
• To calm your nerves?
“It got so that I couldn’t fall asleep unless I masturbated and I couldn’t finish masturbating without porn.
I didn’t think much about it until my wife discovered what I was doing and I saw how much it upset her. I just figured that most guys used porn. What was the big deal?
So I promised to stop. But really, I just tried to cover my tracks until I was caught again and my wife said that she would leave me unless I stopped.
So this time I really tried to stop. I was alright for a while, but soon I was back to hiding secrets. Then, I questioned if I really could stop!”
Sex addicts “act out” with pornography, affairs, sexual massage, anonymous sex, or other behaviors. It’s all about arousal. It’s all about a sex “fix.”
The sex addict’s behavioral choices matter just as little as the alcoholic’s choice whether to drink whiskey or beer. Both get you drunk!
Sex Addicts become like strangers in their own homes. Who is this person?
It’s as if their souls have vanished. Instead, the life that once was in their eyes is replaced by a lonely, carefully hidden craving.
Sex addiction may be undetected by others for long periods of time, yet it takes a tremendous personal toll on the addict and covertly causes great harm to those who care about, or love, the addict.
Only the sex addict knows the secret craving that is consuming their life until the day when their secrets are discovered and their reality can’t be escaped. Eventually, everyone gets caught.
Before I got sober, I spent most of my time in a haze of sexual fantasy. I didn’t care about much else.
I saw how much of life I was missing. Sobriety lifted the fog. Now, I am able to make eye contact and I am able to experience the freedom of having nothing to hide.
Do you feel that your experiences fit these examples?
Some may have read this far and find it easy to identify with sex addiction; perhaps all too easy.. Others may have narrowly focused on the differences between their experiences and the ones described here. They may mistakenly conclude that they do not need to look any further.
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation.” – Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 568.
Don’t stop. Investigate.
Be clear if sex addiction fits your reality. Unless you seek such clarity, you risk getting the wrong help. Worse, you risk reinforcing denial. .
We want to help you to find clarity We urge you to read the section where we set forth the symptoms of sex addiction. After reading this section, we are confident that you will be able to determine if sex addiction fits your reality. Then, you will be well on your way to allowing us to help you find the solution.
Next, review the section where we describe the causes of sex addiction. We want to help you to discover that sex addiction, like any dependency, is a symptom of older wounds and core issues. We believe that frequently sex addiction begins as a coping skill, which then develops into a life-damaging problem.
Now, you will be ready to look at our counseling services page. Here, we outline the qualities you need to identify when you are looking for qualified and experienced help. It is essential for you to determine if you need help and then to look for the right source to provide help. If you are located in the Phoenix area, then consider contacting us so that we may describe to you how our counseling services can help you to recover.
Acknowledging that you want recovery from sexual addiction is critical and life-altering. Deciding that you will do whatever you need to do to become and to remain sexually sober is your first step to change and improve your life – everyday!