Sex addiction is a misunderstood issue that incites fear and derision among the general population. It is sometimes seen as an excuse celebrities use for their moral failings or an indication that someone is a danger to others. These misunderstandings and misperceptions are what get in the way of someone seeking help. Sex addiction is a health issue, not a moral issue.
The advent of brain scanning has allowed addiction to be studied in a way that was impossible before. The findings have shown that sex/porn addiction has the same effect on the brain as illegal drugs (and sex and desire happen in the brain rather than the genitals). A 2014 study by Cambridge University researchers has shown that the brain reacts to images of porn in the same way as drug cues (see study here). Sex and porn can become addictive in some people and cravings are about want not like.
As long as society fails to take this issue seriously many people live a life of secret shame, unaware that help is available. Behaviours that arise from the addiction can have devastating effects – STI’s, relationship breakdown, job losses and even suicide. The effects aren’t limited to the person with the addiction either, partners and families can find themselves caught up in the shame and living with the consequences.
How do I know if my behaviour is a problem?
If you are questioning your behaviour or noticing adverse consequences please read my post (here) for more information.
Help is available. Education, group work (e.g. Sex Addicts Anonymous – saa-recovery.org.uk) and therapy with a trained professional to explore what led to the addiction and learn recovery strategies can all be helpful. Shame is often a barrier to getting help but the first step can offer hope that life can become manageable and enjoyable again.