When does sex become an addiction? Has sex ceased to be fun?
The internet is now the leading source of pornographic materials worldwide. It provides unprecedented anonymous virtually unlimited access to inexpensive or cost free sexually explicit text, still and moving images, and audio. More than half of all spending on the internet is related to sexual activity. Fourteen percent of searches on the internet worldwide and four percent of websites are devoted to sex.
Addiction is when someone is unable to stop doing something that is bad for them. The addict does not see all the bad things that are happening, because he is taking this action. The key factor is that the sexual addict is unable to control or stop the sexual behavior even though there are negative results that continue to get worse. The behavior may include compulsive masturbation, compulsive use of pornography, anonymous or public sexual encounters, and cybersex or phone sex.
Orgasm is the last thing an addict wants. He creates a bubble of fantasy. Sex addicts are addicted to drugs inside their own bodies: dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline. These neurochemicals suppress anxiety, anger, resentment, and shame. “Rarely does the average person get to experience, for example, love without fear, or pure joy much less ecstasy. But these higher states are so powerful that once experienced, they are never forgotten and are sought ever after,” writes psychiatrist, David Hawkins.
The bubble of sexual fantasy allows him to maintain a false set of beliefs about his own power. Addiction is like a greedy little god inside you, writes Robert Moore. Your ego is so inflated that you act as if you think you are God. Grandiosity tends to destroy you if you do not look at it honestly and accept that you have needs and limits.
Addiction is at its core a thought disorder. The underlying belief of the addict is – “I am a damaged and worthless person.” The addicts also believes if others really knew who he is, they will not love him. He does not trust that others can be trusted to help take care of his needs. The sex addict also believes that sex is his most important need.
Sexual addiction, like all addictions, is biological, psychological, social, and spiritual disease. One can see the differences when looking at the scan of a brain of a sex addict. A sex addict frequently experiences with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse during his childhood. After he grows up, the sex addict often has relationships with other addicts or someone who reduces the consequences of his unhealthy sexual behavior – a co-addict. His wife and children are affected by his addiction; addiction is a family disease.
Healing is possible from sexual addiction. Mary O’Malley writes in The Gift of Our Compulsions that “compulsions are our guides back into (being grounded in our body that connects us to wisdom, our heart, and our life.) This is the connection we knew so well when we were young (as a child); it has been waiting for us to grow up enough so we can know and live it again on an even deeper level.”
Bill Wilson said something similar about addiction – there is no full recovery from addiction, until we have actually achieved emotional sobriety. Healing our sexuality begins with accepting the reality of our sexual urges. Our healing continues as we see sex as a way to spontaneously and playfully build connection and belonging with another. In this video, Manuel Costa, MFT, author of “A Path to Life’s Fullness: A New Perspective on the Teachings of Jesus,” discusses sexual addiction, perhaps, the most shamed addiction of all.